How often does stillbirth occur?
- Around 1 in every 224 births ends in a stillbirth in the UK.
- For every 1,000 babies born in England and Wales, 4.4 are stillborn.
- Around 9 babies were stillborn every day in 2016.
- Of 696,271 births in 2016 in England and Wales, 3,112 resulted in stillbirth
- In 2015, Britain was 24th out of 49 high income countries. Croatia, Poland and Czech Republic all have better stillbirth rates than UK.
How does obesity affect the risk of stillbirth?
In women with a BMI over 30, the risk of stillbirth rises to 1 in 100. Approximately 9 babies were stillborn every day in 2015.
Why do stillbirths happen?
In the UK around half of all stillbirths are linked to placental complications. Other causes include bleeding before or during labour, placental abruption, pre-eclampsia, a problem with the umbilical cord, obstetric cholestasis, a genetic physical defect in the baby, pre-existing diabetes, and infection in the mother that also affects the baby. Reduced fetal movement is a good indicator of stillbirth, with slowing down of movement noticed by the mother in around half of stillbirths.
Stillbirth and mental health
An estimated 4.2 million women are living with depression associated with previous stillbirth.
ONS (2016) Births in England and Wales: 2016, Office of National Statistics, London, England
NHS Choices [accessed 2 February 2016] Overweight and pregnant. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/overweight-pregnant.aspx.
MBRACE-UK (2017) Perinatal Mortality Surveillance Report. https://www.npeu.ox.ac.uk/mbrrace-uk/reports
RCOG (2011) Green Top Guideline No 57 Reduced fetal movements. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/gtg_57.pdf
Flenady V, Wojcieszek AM, Middleton P. Stillbirths: recall to action in high-income countries. Ending preventable stillbirths 4. Lancet 2016;387(10019):691–702. http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(15)01020-X.pdf (accessed 16 February 2016).
NHS Choices. Stillbirth. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Stillbirth/Pages/Definition.aspx (accessed 19 February 2016).
Tikkanen M (2011) Placental abruption: epidemiology, risk factors and consequences. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica 2011;90(2):140–9.
Harmon QE, Huang L, Umbach DM, et al (2015) Risk of fetal death with preeclampsia. Obstetrics and Gynecology2015;125(3):628–35.
The Tommy's Rainbow Clinic is part of the Tommy's Stillbirth Research Centre at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester. It provides specialist care for women who have suffered a previous stillbirth or neonatal death.
The Placenta Clinic, run as part of the Tommy's Stillbirth Research Centre at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester, is the largest placenta-focused research group in the world.
Tommy’s research centre at St Mary’s Hospital opened in 2001 and is now home to around 100 clinicians and scientists researching the causes of stillbirth, and how to prevent it.
When a baby dies after 24 weeks of gestation it is called a stillbirth. Around 2.6 million babies are stillborn each year. Tommy’s research is helping to change this.
One mum has helped us compile some tips to help women pregnant again after a loss get through what can be a difficult nine months.
Charnjit lost baby Zara at 27 weeks due to intrauterine growth restriction. Her following pregnancy, which she writes about here, was a time of great anxiety for her and her family.
Shelley's baby Joseph was stillborn at 37 weeks. A post-mortem found that Joseph was suffering from intrauterine growth restriction