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Estimating the Time of death in stillborn fetuses

Grade of Maceration


Duration of Intrauterine Demise


"parboiled" reddened skin < 8 hours


skin slippage and peeling > 8 hours


extensive skin peeling
red serous effusions in chest and abdomen due to hemoglobin staining
2-7 days


liver yellow-brown
turbid effusion
may be mummified
>= 8 days

Additional datings

Bullae in epidermis (leading to peeling): appear at about 24 hours
Hemoglobin staining of internal viscera (loss of normal color): 24-48 hours
Separation of dura from calvarium bone: 5+ days


1. Bain AD. The perinatal autopsy, pages 820-834. IN: Cockburn F, Drillien CM (editors). Neonatal Medicine. Blackwell Scientific Publications. 1974.
2. Langley FA. The perinatal postmortem examination. J Clin Pathol. 1971; 24: 159-169.
3.  Wigglesworth JS. Perinatal Pathology, Second Edition. WB Saunders. 1996. Chapter 6: The macerated stillborn fetus. pages 78-86.

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