Fetal death, more commonly known as stillbirth, is when a fetus over 20 weeks is considered medically deceased before it is delivered. Deaths of fetuses under 20 weeks are usually referred to as miscarriages.
Nearly all states require reports of the deaths of any fetuses over 20 weeks or 350 grams. However, New York City requires every known fetal death to be reported. All states report fetal deaths through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program, which sends the reports electronically to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
When a fetal death is reported, a fetal death certificate is issued. This is a permanent legal record of the death and may be used in a court of law. The mother of the deceased may also receive a copy of the fetal death certificate.