Fetal and Stillborn Deaths

A stillborn fetus weighing over 350 grams or over 20 weeks gestational age requires consent from the next-of-kin for an autopsy and are not to be examined in Surgical Pathology. A foot length of 3.2 cm is the average for a stillborn of 20 weeks according to Potter’s textbook.

A stillborn fetus less than 350 grams in weight or less than 20 weeks gestation with no heartbeat at birth should be sent to Surgical Pathology with a Surgical Pathology requisition form.

Placentas of any fetal demise need to be sent to surgical pathology.

Following the death of a stillborn fetus, the pronouncing physician, nursing service and Autopsy Service complete all required decedent affairs paperwork (Form 5012). The pronouncing physician is responsible for contacting the legal next-of-kin and discussing autopsy with the legal next-of-kin.

UTMB offers an autopsy at no charge.

UTMB Retention

The legal next-of-kin of any stillborn fetus (regardless of weight) can give UTMB full responsibility for the disposition of the body in this case, the body will be disposed in accordance with customary medical practice (complete Section 5 of Form 5012). If the next-of-kin selects hospital disposition, they will not receive the ashes. There is no charge for this service.

Funeral Home Release of Fetuses sent to Surgical Pathology

If the next-of-kin requests a funeral home release on a Surgical Pathology fetus (less than 20 weeks gestation or below 350 grams), complete Section 3C of the Form 5012 (Disposition of the body). Send the FORM 5012 signed by the next-of-kin to surgical pathology, along with the fetus.