- In 2020, 1 in every 225 pregnancies ended in stillbirth
- 2,638 babies were stillborn in 2020 in the UK
- The stillbirth rate in England and Wales is 3.8 stillbirths per 1,000 total births
- Approximately 7 babies were stillborn every day
- Croatia, Poland and Czech Republic all have better stillbirth rates than UK
Neonatal death Statistics
- In 2020, 1,719 babies who were born after 24 weeks’ gestation died in their first 28 days of life in England and Wales
- 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:
- 17% caused by ascending infection
- 12% caused by placenta factors, including placental abruption and pre-eclampsia
- 5% caused by congenital abnormality
- 2% caused by fetal growth restriction
- 2% caused by complications with twins
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 and stillbirth statistics for press and media. If you are a journalist 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
Stillbirth information and support
ONS. (2021) Births in England and Wales 2020 [Online]. Available on: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/livebirths/bulletins/birthsummarytablesenglandandwales/2020 (Accessed: 02/11/21)
National Records of Scotland (2021) Vital Events Reference Table 2020 [Online]. Available on: Vital Events Reference Tables 2020 | National Records of Scotland (nrscotland.gov.uk) (Accessed: 02/11/21)
NISRA (2021) Registrar General Annual Report 2020 Stillbirths and Infant Deaths [Online]. Available on Registrar General Annual Report 2020 Stillbirths and Infant Deaths | Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (nisra.gov.uk) (Accessed 02/11/21)
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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]
Our research projects
Thanks to supporters like you we are able to carry out more than 2 million pounds worth of ground-breaking research every year in 4 centres across the UK, into the causes of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. Discover our research projects here