Stillbirth statistics

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

Stillbirth statistics  

  • 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
  • Croatia, Poland 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

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 and stillbirth statistics 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,
  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
  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,
  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]