How common is stillbirth in the UK?
- In 2018 1 in every 250 pregnancies ended in a stillbirth
- 2,763 babies were stillborn in 2019 in the UK
- For every 1,000 babies born, 3.9 were stillborn (ONS – England and Wales)
- Around 8 babies were stillborn every day
- CroatiaPoland and Czech Republic all have better stillbirth rates than UK
How common is neonatal death (death in the first 28 days)?
- In 2019 there were 2,131 neonatal deaths in the UK
- For every 1,000 babies born 2.8 died within 28 days
- In women with a high BMI (over 26) the risk of stillbirth increases by around 20% with every 5 extra BMI points on the scale
- In women who smoke during pregnancy, the risk of stillbirth goes up depending on how much is smoked:
- the risk of stillbirth is 52% higher in pregnant women who smoked 10 or more
- the risk of stillbirth was 9% higher for those smoking 1 to 9 cigarettes a day.
- In women with a previous stillbirth, the risk of another increases 4 times, from 1% to 2.5%
Why do stillbirths happen?
- According to one study of 1064 pregnancies, around 60% of stillbirths are unexplained. Doctors cannot tell parents why their baby died.
- The same study ranked the following reasons for the stillbirths that could be explained:
Reduced fetal movement and stillbirth
When a baby is getting less oxygen or nutrients in the womb, they will move less to conserve energy, therefore reduced baby movements can be a sign that something is wrong (and should be reported immediately).
- 50% of mothers who had a stillbirth noticed slowing down of baby movements beforehand
Stillbirth and mental health
Women who have suffered stillbirth or neonatal death are more likely to have anxiety and depression afterwards.
- One study in the US of 800 women showed that women who had a stillbirth were twice as likely to have depression compared to those how had live births. This effect had actually increased when they were studied again 2 years later, showing that stillbirth has a long term effect on mental health
- Another study of 609 women who had experienced a stillbirth or neonatal death, showed that women who had loss:
- were 4 times more likely to have depression
- were 7 times more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder
Media requests about stillbirth
Our clinicians, scientists and researchers are available to speak about stillbirth for press and media. If you are interested in speaking to a clinician from a Tommy's stillbirth research centre, please contact Tommy's press office on 0207 398 3436 or email [email protected].