Fetal Death Registration
The Vital Events Registry is a statewide data system responsible for collecting information on all fetal deaths that occur in Pennsylvania. The Vital Events Registry is part of the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program (VSCP) administered by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Through this program, the CDC provides funding for states, such as Pennsylvania, to ensure the fetal death data is as complete, timely and accurate as possible.
Fetal death is the expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of conception after sixteen weeks gestation, which shows no life after such expulsion or extraction. All fetal deaths occurring in Pennsylvania are required to be reported to the Department of Health by the Vital Statistics Law of 1953. Deaths and fetal deaths must be reported within 96 hours of the event. Every year, nearly 1,500 fetal deaths occur in Pennsylvania.
The registration of fetal deaths encompasses the Division of Vital Records, Division of Statistical Registries, Division of Statistical Support, local registrars, funeral homes, hospitals, and physicians. The filing of the fetal death record is the responsibility of the funeral director or person acting as such, however others share the responsibility for the completion of the fetal death record. If the fetal death occurred at a hospital, staff at the facility work with the physician along with the funeral director to complete the certificate of fetal death.
The type of data collected includes demographics (age, gender, where they live, etc.) and medical information about the mother and fetus. The Department also collects fetal death data through data exchange with other states when Pennsylvania residents die in other states.