Skip to main content


Review: Reduced fetal movements

Reduced fetal movements in pregnancy is common, creates anxiety for both women and clinicians, and while it can be a sign of problems in the pregnancy or have no cause, it has an association with stillbirth.


Julia Unterscheider, Keelin O'Donoghue

Journal Name
The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
Journal Article
Full Citation

Unterscheider J, Horgan R, O'Donoghue K, Greene R. Reduced fetal movements. The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist. 2009;11:245-251.

Link to Publication


A reduction of fetal movements causes concern and anxiety, both for the mother and obstetrician, and is a common reason for referral to hospital. Decreased fetal movements affect up to 15% of pregnancies and this review examines the evidence around underlying causes, assessment and management. The perception of reduced movements is highly subjective to the mother but it has clinical significance as a predictor of adverse pregnancy outcome - therefore any concerns should be taken seriously by clinicians and assessed appropriately. There are various tests to provide reassurance on the baby’s wellbeing but this can lead to over investigation of healthy pregnancies. When a woman presents with this problem, it is important consider which babies might be at higher risk of stillbirth. Assessment of the pregnant woman and the mother and baby should be standardised within the maternity hospital/unit.

Pregnancy Loss Research Group

Pregnancy Loss Research Group, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University College Cork, Fifth Floor, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Wilton, Cork, T12 YE02, Ireland,