Updated February 2014
Around 2.6 million stillbirths (the death of a baby at 28 weeks' gestation or more) occur each year. Although 98% of these deaths take place in low-income and middle-income countries. Stillbirths also continue to affect wealthier nations, with around 1 in every 300 babies stillborn in high-income countries like the UK . In 2013, the UK still had one of the highest rates of stillbirth in Europe (4.7 per 1,000 total births in 2013). France (10.4) and Bulgaria (8) had the highest stillbirth rates in Europe, whereas Spain and Slovenia (2.3) and Finland (1.9) had the lowest .
England and Wales
- In 2013, the stillbirth rate fell to 4.7 per 1,000 total births, making this the lowest stillbirth rate since the early 1990s (4.9 in 2012). The number of stillbirths fell to 3,284 in 2013 from 3,558 in 2012 (a fall of 7.7%). The South West had the lowest stillbirth rate (3.6 per 1,000 total births) and London had the highest (5.3 per 1,000 total births) .
- In 2013, the stillbirth rate in Wales was 4.5 per 1,000 births .
- The majority of stillbirths in 2012 (74%) were caused by congenital anomalies or immaturity-related conditions .
- In the fourth quarter of 2013, the stillbirth rate in Scotland was 4.3 per 1,000 births, a drop from 4.7 in 2012 and from 5.1 per 1,000 births in 2011 .
- The stillbirth rate in Scotland peaked in the late 1940s at 29.2 per 1,000 births .
- Half of stillbirths were caused by developmental problems in the baby .
- 22% of stillbirths were caused by complications in placenta and cord development .
- In 2012 there were 4.2 stillbirths per 1,000 births, a substantial reduction from 20.5 stillbirths per 1,000 births in the early 1960s. However, the rate in 2011 was of 3.6 per 1,000 .
- 48% of stillbirths in 2012 were caused by ‘other conditions and disorders originating in the perinatal period’ .
- 21% of stillbirths were caused by problems in placental and cord development .
- 17% of stillbirths were caused by chromosomal abnormalities and congenital malformations in the baby .
 The Lancet. Stillbirths. Available at: http://www.thelancet.com/series/stillbirth (2014, accessed 9 December 2014).
 General Register Office for Scotland. Vital events reference tables. Edinburgh: GROS, 2013. Available at: http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/vital-events/general/ref-tables/2013/section-1-summary.html (accessed 9 December 2014).
 Office for National Statistics. Characteristics of birth 1, England and Wales, 2013. London: ONS, 2014. Available at: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/characteristics-of-birth-1--england-and-wales/2013/index.html (accessed 9 December 2014).
 Office for National Statistics. Death Registrations Summary Tables, England and Wales, 2012. London: ONS, 2014. Available from: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-314473 (accessed 9 December 2014).
 Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Registrar General Northern Ireland: annual report 2012. Belfast: NISRA, 2013. Available at: http://www.nisra.gov.uk/archive/demography/publications/annual_reports/2012/RG2012.pdf (accessed 9 December 2014).
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Premature birth statistics