Around 3,500 babies were stillborn in the UK in 2015. From 2010 to 2016, Tommy’s research on stillbirth has helped decreased the 3 year average stillbirth rate by 24% in St. Mary’s, and 34% in the Manchester region.
But this isn’t enough. Over 3,000 babies are stillborn per year, but less than 10% of stillbirths are due to a pre-determined genetic condition, and therefore unpreventable . That’s why we continue to research how and why stillbirths happen, so that we can save more babies’ lives every year.
We opened the Manchester centre in 2011 with a new Stillbirth Research Programme which focusses on:
• Understanding the causes of stillbirth and developing new diagnostic tools
• Preventing stillbirths by identifying babies at risk
• Developing new national guidelines for health professionals.
The Manchester centre works very closely with the other Tommy’s centres in Edinburgh and London, as well as collaborating with many overseas researchers.
Up to 60% of stillbirths are due to problems in the placenta, with fetal growth restriction one of the leading causes of stillbirth. The Tommy’s Placenta Clinic was therefore opened up in Manchester, as part of our Stillbirth Centre, which combines specialised antenatal care for pregnancies affected by fetal growth restriction with frontline research into why the condition occurs and how it might be treated. Meanwhile, the Rainbow Clinic was opened to care for women pregnant after a previous stillbirth. It started out as a small clinic, but as we started to care for more and more parents we opened a second Rainbow Clinic at Wytheshawe hospital too.
Read more about what we are doing to tackle stillbirth in our Stillbirth Impact Report (pdf).
2016-7 Research Highlights
- Dr Alex Heazell and Dr Edward Johnstone are leading a national evaluation of the NHS England Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle
- We are developing an exciting new way of looking at the placenta while the baby is growing using Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI
- The MAMAs study is looking for ways of helping older mothers to have healthy pregnancies. Researchers found that placentas in older women were under more stress, which may stop them working normally
- Tommy’s researchers have found that when haemoglobin escapes from a baby’s cells, it can make it hard for blood to flow through the placenta
- Scientists think we may be able to use tiny fragments of DNA-like material in mothers’ blood to see if a woman is at risk of stillbirth Individual stillbirth research projects
Read about the different research projects we are currently conducting into stillbirth
Individual stillbirth research projects
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.
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.
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.