Researchers from St. George’s Hospital Medical School in London recently published a study in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology focused on the possibility that Doppler ultrasound may be an effective means of predicting stillbirth risk.

Ultrasound technicians performed a Doppler ultrasound between 19 and 23 weeks gestation. The ultrasound focuses on the uterine artery. About 15,800 women participated in the study. Nearly 145 stillbirths were recorded. When uterine artery indices measured in excess of the 90th percentile, women were seven times more likely to suffer stillbirth compared to the control group. Traditional risk factors for stillbirth, like BMI and ethnicity, did not impact the results.

Conclusion: When Doppler indices are elevated in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy women are at higher risk of stillbirth. There is no mention of how doctors should proceed if patient Doppler ultrasound shows elevated indices. There is a list of risk factors that contribute to uteroplacental dysfunction. In theory, eliminating these risk factors could reduce the risk of stillbirth.

Singh T, Leslie K, Bhide A, D'Antonio F, Thilaganathan B. Role of second-trimester uterine artery Doppler in assessing stillbirth risk. Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Feb;119(2 Pt 1):256-61. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e318242ad81.