Statistics about stillbirth

1 in every 225 births ends in a stillbirth in the UK. That's 9 babies every day.

Stillbirth statistics

How common is stillbirth in the UK? 

  • In 2017 1 in every 225 births ended in a stillbirth.
  • For every 1,000 babies born, 4.2 were stillborn.
  • Around 9 babies were stillborn every day.
  • Of 755,042 births in 2017 in the UK, 3,200 resulted in stillbirth.
  • Croatia, Poland and Czech Republic all have better stillbirth rates than UK.
  • 2017 had the lowest stillbirth rate in the UK since recording began.

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

  • In 2017 there were 2,131 neonatal deaths
  • 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, 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 explained stillbirths:
    • 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 it 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.

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

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, contact Hannah Blake, telephone: 07730 039361 or email [email protected]

Read more about our research into stillbirth

  • The team at the Rainbow Clinic

    The Rainbow Clinic

    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.

  • Diagram of baby and placenta in womb

    The Placenta Clinic

    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.

  • researcher looking through microscope

    Tommy’s Manchester Research Centre

    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.

  • Team of researchers

    Research into stillbirth

    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.

Why our stillbirth research is necessary

  • Story

    The best and worst day of our lives

    Although Will's weight and length were measurably lacking at birth, the size of his heart and spirit were entirely immeasurable.

  • Lewis smiling while running the Royal Parks Half Marathon for Tommy's


    Lewis takes on 24hr run for Tommy's in memory of his son

    "After all, the pain of pushing your body through a run is nothing in comparison to losing a child but it is my personal outlet and way to honour my son’s memory."

  • Story of Miscourage


    Just us two and I miss you

    She said maybe he is turned in a funny position, but we waited a while and still she couldn’t find the heartbeat.

  • Story

    Shane Finney's 12 in 12

    When it comes down to it, I would never have got anywhere near completing my challenge had it not been for Tommy's, the amazing cause and those they have touched.

  • Story

    Why I love October even though I find it hard

    It means so much to me that I have taken the worst time in my life and managed to make a positive out of it. I really believe in the work that Tommy's do, and it is a comfort to me that I am able to help in a small way.

  • Story

    Over a 6-year period I have lost 5 babies

    Looking back now I realise that my experiences have taught me some valuable lessons. That strength does not have to mean silence; being brave can involve tears and that these babies are chapters of my story.

  • don-and-carys-llhm-tommys


    I lay on my bed crying

    "There have been times where I've felt like the only person going through this horrible situation (even though I know I'm not) and felt that people just don't know what to say. The more we talk about it the more we can support each other."

  • pardip-llhm-tommys-straitjacket-world-record


    Pardip's LLHM world record

    "When I crossed the finish line, I was the happiest man on earth. My finish time was 01:43:43; a New Guinness World Record for fastest half marathon in a straitjacket."

  • Story

    Tilly had a huge impact in the short time she was here

    I know this is going to be a journey full of emotions, but I also know this is something I need to do. Not only for myself but my partner, my son and to show Tilly that she had a huge impact on the world in the short time she was here.

  • nikki-and-glenn-llhm-tommys


    Nikki and Glenn

    "Each month that went by provided another disappointment that we had not managed the one thing we hoped for most."

  • Georgia and Dom Bunning before the LLHM 2018


    Georgia's Reason for Running

    Although Bea’s time with us had been so cruelly cut short, we were determined that her legacy would be long-lasting. It was the only way we knew how to parent the child missing from our arms.

  • Story

    Sharon's Reason for Running

    My world had crashed. My baby could not have died. I was still pregnant, they must be wrong. Nobody is available to help me. What will I tell my Mum? What have I done wrong?



  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]


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