BACKGROUND: Stillbirths need to count. They constitute the majority of the world's perinatal deaths and yet, they are largely invisible. Simply counting stillbirths is only the first step in analysis and prevention. From a public health perspective, there is a need for information on timing and circumstances of death, associated conditions and underlying causes, and availability and quality of
care. This information will guide efforts to prevent stillbirths and improve quality of care. DISCUSSION: In this report, we assess how different definitions and limits in registration affect data capture, and we discuss the specific challenges of stillbirth registration, with emphasis on
implementation. We identify what data need to be captured, we suggest a dataset to cover core needs in registration and analysis of the different categories of stillbirths with causes and quality
indicators, and we illustrate the experience in stillbirth registration from different cultural settings. Finally, we point out gaps that need attention in the International Classification of Diseases and
review the qualities of alternative systems that have been tested in low- and middle-income settings. SUMMARY: Obtaining high-quality data will require consistent definitions for stillbirths, systematic
population-based registration, better tools for surveys and verbal autopsies, capacity building and training in procedures to identify causes of death, locally adapted quality indicators, improved classification systems, and effective registration and reporting systems.