Stillbirth statistics

Around 2.6 million stillbirths (the death of a baby at 24 weeks' gestation or more) occur globally each year. In the UK, that equates to 9 stillborn babies a day and untold heartbreak for their families.

Stillbirth statistics

How often does stillbirth occur?

  • Around 2.6 million stillbirths occur globally each year - 98% of these deaths take place in low-income and middle-income countries.
  • For every 1,000 babies born in Britain, 2.9 are stillborn (based on at least 28 weeks of gestation) – more than twice the rate of 1.4 in Iceland.
  • Approximately 9 babies were stillborn every day in 2015.
  • Of 782,720 births in 2015, 3,032 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.
  • Around 1 in every 227 births ends in a stillbirth in the 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?

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.

How are the rates of stillbirth changing?

Worldwide, the number of stillbirths has declined by 19.4% between 2000 and 2015, from 4.2 per 1,000 births in 2013 to 3.87 in 2015. An estimated 4.2 million women are living with depression associated with previous stillbirth.

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

Sources

Lawn JE, Blencowe H, Waiswa P, et al. Stillbirths: rates, risk factors, and acceleration towards 2030. Lancet 2016;S0140–6736(15)00837-5. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00837–5. http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(15)00837-5.pdf

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.

 

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Read more about our work

  • 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 antenatal 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, and how to prevent it.

  • 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 research is necessary