Stillbirth research projects

In the UK, 1 in every 250 pregnancies end in stillbirth – when a baby dies after 24 weeks gestation. This is equivalent to around 2,950 babies dying every year. Our research is helping to change this. Discover our stillbirth research projects here.

Tommy’s stillbirth research

In the UK, 1 in every 250 pregnancies end in stillbirth – when a baby dies after 24 weeks gestation. in 2021, 2,866 babies were stillborn. The stillbirth rate in England and Wales is 4.1 stillbirths per 1,000 total births, up from 3.8 in 2020.

Read stories from our supporters about their experiences of stillbirth and neonatal death.

We have information and support on stillbirth here.

The stillbirth statistics are shocking

  • 8 babies are stillborn every day in the UK
  • 98% of stillbirths happen in low and middle income countries
  • An estimated 4.2 million women are living with depression linked to stillbirth

Read more stillbirth statistics

We need answers, fast

Often, parents are given no reason for their loss, and are left to cope with little support. 

Tommy’s is the largest UK charity funding research to prevent stillbirth. We carry out vital research to find out why stillbirths happen, and how we can prevent them. Rates of stillbirth are falling – but not fast enough. Our research is helping us understand the causes of stillbirth, so we can find the babies at risk in time to help them.

In many cases when a baby is stillborn no cause can be found. The death of these babies deaths remain ‘unexplained’, which can be particularly hard for grieving parents who want to understand what happened to their baby. 

The placenta, fetal growth and stillbirth

About half of all stillbirths are linked to complications with the placenta.

Our research aims to reduce stillbirth rates by finding the missing links between stillbirth, the placenta and the baby’s growth. Most of our stillbirth research takes place in our Manchester research centre, where we have made great progress in our Rainbow and Placenta Clinics.

Our research focuses on three main areas:

  1. Understanding the causes of stillbirth
  2. Treatment and prevention of stillbirth
  3. Improving care for women at risk of, and following, a stillbirth

We are already making strides towards our goals.

Stillbirth research achievements

  • We have reduced the proportion of unexplained stillbirths in the Greater Manchester area by 32%. This is equivalent to 12 fewer babies dying every year.
  • In Edinburgh, obese women attending our antenatal clinic were an astounding 8 times less likely to have a stillbirth than women receiving standard care.
  • We are rolling out the excellent care that women get in a pregnancy after a stillbirth at our rainbow clinic to 5 new sites.

Finding the reasons for stillbirth

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