Weinberg & Vitale Bill Requiring DOH to Improve Fetal Death Reporting Goes to Governor

Senator Weinberg

Also Would Require Compliance With ‘Autumn Joy Stillbirth Research and Dignity Act’

 TRENTON – The Assembly today approved legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senate Health Chairman Joseph F. Vitale to require the state to bring its reporting of fetal death in line with federal standards, which were last revised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than a decade ago. The bill also requires the state to comply with the reporting requirements contained in the Autumn Joy Stillbirth Research and Dignity Act, enacted in 2013. The bill now goes to the governor’s desk.

“More than a decade ago, the CDC began asking for more detailed information related to fetal deaths, including complications of the mother during pregnancy, illnesses, history of smoking, among others,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “It is long overdue that New Jersey updated its reporting standards related to this issue. This will ensure more consistent, complete data collection across the states and improved opportunities for research about the causes of fetal death.”

The bill (S-2059) would require the Department of Health (DOH) to take appropriate action to ensure that the rules and regulations related to fetal death certification and fetal death evaluation and reporting are consistent with current federal standards, last revised by the CDC in 2003. The legislation would require parental consent regarding still births evaluations, and establish required consent by parents for alternative, limited autopsies and other more limited examinations consistent with the scope provided by the parental consent. It would also require the state to adhere to the reporting requirements under the 2013 Autumn Joy Stillbirth Research and Dignity Act. The law would take effect 180 days after enactment.

“This will better ensure that information provided by New Jersey on fetal deaths is consistent with other states, and in doing so help to provide an accurate and more comprehensive picture of what is happening across the country,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “The latest standards call for more detailed information that could help in determining the cause of fetal deaths. Adopting the reporting standards followed by most states across the nation will improve data collection and, in turn, research in this area.”

The U.S. fetal death rate for 2013 was 5.96 fetal deaths at 20 weeks of gestation or more per 1,000 live births and fetal deaths.

The 2003 revised certificate requests more details regarding  any diseases or illnesses of the mother, complications during pregnancy or birth, method of delivery, maternal morbidity, causes/conditions contributing to the fetal death, and any congenital anomalies of the fetus. It also requests information on the number of live births and losses, as well as the mother’s smoking history before and during pregnancy.

The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 39-0. The Assembly approved it 75-0. It now heads to the governor’s desk.