Stillbirth statistics

Around 2.6 million stillbirths (the death of a baby at 24 weeks' gestation or more) occur each year. Although 98% of these deaths take place in low-income and middle-income countries.

Statistics about stillbirth

Britain is now 21 out of 35 of the world's wealthy countries according to the Lancet Stillbirth Series (2016). Croatia, Poland and Czech Republic have better stillbirth rates than the UK.

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.

  • In women with a BMI over 30, the risk rises to 1 in 100.
  • 10 babies are stillborn every day 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.



[1] Flenady V, The Lancet. Ending preventable stillbirths 4 recall to action in high-income countries. London. 2016.

[2] NHS Choices. Overweight and pregnant. Available at: (accessed 2 February 2016).

[3] 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. Available at: (accessed 2 February 2016).

[4] Flenady V, Wojcieszek AM, Middleton P. Stillbirths: recall to action in high-income countries. Ending preventable stillbirths 4. Lancet 2016;387(10019):691–702. Available at: (accessed 16 February 2016).

[5] NHS Choices. Stillbirth. Available at: (accessed 19 February 2016).

[6] Tikkanen M. Placental abruption: epidemiology, risk factors and consequences. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica 2011;90(2):140–9.

[7] Harmon QE, Huang L, Umbach DM, et al. Risk of fetal death with preeclampsia. Obstetrics and Gynecology 2015;125(3):628–35.

[8] Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. Reduced fetal movements. Available at: (accessed 2 February 2016).


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  • 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.

  • Team of researchers

    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.

Why our research is necessary