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Death before BirthFetal Health and Mortality in Historical Perspective$
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Robert Woods

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199542758

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542758.001.0001

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Definitions, Measurement, Influences

Definitions, Measurement, Influences

(p.14) 2 Definitions, Measurement, Influences
Death before Birth

Robert Woods (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The definition of live birth is problematic. Clinical, statistical, and cultural conventions compete and are, in any case, fluid. This chapter considers how fetal death has been defined; the terms used by specialists and in common speech (reckoning, quickening, miscarriage, abortion, stillbirth, deadborn); the distinction between miscarriage and induced abortion; and how such deaths have been recorded, and by whom (hospital records, certification, state registration; midwives, clerics, physicians). It discusses the various devices employed to measure fetal and early-age mortality, such as the stillbirth and perinatal mortality rates, neonatal and endogenous mortality. Finally, it reviews a number of alternative explanatory approaches to fetal mortality. Those emphasizing the biological and physiological are contrasted with more socially and culturally nuanced accounts.

Keywords:   perinatal, neonatal, certification, deadborn, maternal age, parity

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