Stillbirth statistics

1 in every 250 pregnancies ends in a stillbirth in the UK. That’s 8 babies every day.

How common is stillbirth in the UK?  

  • In 2018 1 in every 250 pregnancies ended in a stillbirth
  • 2,943 babies were stillborn in 2018 in the UK
  • For every 1,000 babies born, 4.1 were stillborn 
  • Around 8 babies were stillborn every day
  • Croatia, Poland and Czech Republic all have better stillbirth rates than UK

How common is neonatal death (death in the first 28 days)?

  • In 2018 there were 2,131 neonatal deaths in the UK
  • For every 1,000 babies born 2.8 died within 28 days

Stillbirth risks

  • 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:

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].

Find out more

Read more information and support for parents who have suffered a stillbirth here.

Read about what Tommy's is doing to cut stillbirth rates here

  1. ONS (2018) Vital statistics in the UK: births, deaths and marriages - 2018 update, Office of National Statistics, London, England, https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigrati..
  2. Aune D, Saugstad OD, Henriksen T, Tonstad S. Maternal Body Mass Index and the Risk of Fetal Death, Stillbirth, and Infant DeathA Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA. 2014;311(15):1536–1546. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.2269
  3. Marufu TC, Ahankari A et al (2015) Maternal smoking and the risk of still birth: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health201515:239 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-015-1552-5
  4. Lamont K, Scott NW et al (2015) Risk of recurrent stillbirth: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2015 Jun 24;350:h3080. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h3080
  5. Man J , Hutchinson JC (2016), Stillbirth and intrauterine fetal death: factors affecting determination of cause of death at autopsy. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol, 48: 566-573. doi:10.1002/uog.16016
  6. RCOG (2011) Reduced fetal movements guideline 2011, green-top guideline no. 57, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London, England, https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/gtg_57.pdf
  7. Hogue, Carol J R et al. “The association of stillbirth with depressive symptoms 6-36 months post-delivery” Paediatric and perinatal epidemiology vol. 29,2 (2015): 131-43.
  8. Gold KJ, Leon I, Boggs ME, Sen A.  Depression and Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms After Perinatal Loss in a Population-Based Sample.  J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2015 Aug 10. [Epub ahead of print]