Research into stillbirth

When a baby dies after 24 weeks of gestation it is called a stillbirth. Incredibly, over 3,500 babies are stillborn every year in the UK and many of these deaths remain unexplained. Tommy’s research is dedicated to improving these shocking statistics.

Team of researchers

The four main causes of stillbirth are fetal abnormality, pre-eclampsia, premature birth and fetal growth restriction (FGR). Our research centre in Manchester is focusing on the main cause of stillbirth: fetal growth restriction due to problems with placental blood flow. We are undertaking a whole series of projects looking at this and you can see the ones most related to stillbirth below. 

The stillbirth research programme focuses 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.

In the London research centre, a research trial called PITCHES, is focusing on two diseases of pregnancy, bstetric cholestasis and diabetes, that are associated with stillbirth.

See how far we've come since 2000, download our stillbirth impact report (pdf).

The Placenta Clinic

This centre set up the Manchester Placenta Clinic in January 2009. The aim of this clinic, the first of its kind in the UK, is to combine specialised antenatal care for women with pregnancies affected by fetal growth restriction with frontline research into why the condition occurs and how it might be treated. By creating such a close link between clinical researchers and patients, we hope to increase the speed at which research advances can be made. 

The Rainbow Clinic

The Rainbow Clinic cares for and treats patients who have suffered a previous stillbirth. As well as providing specialised care for parents at this very anxious time of their lives, it has improved research into the causes of stillbirth. 

Visit our section of information and support on stillbirth.

Read about our clinics for women at risk of 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 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

    Our research centre in St Mary's Hospital, Manchester

    Tommy’s research centre in Manchester is based at St Mary’s Hospital. It was opened in 2001 and now houses 88 clinicians and scientists, researching the causes of stillbirth and finding treatments to prevent it.

Why our work is so important

Individual stillbirth research projects