How common is stillbirth in the UK? 

The latest available figures are from 2016. 

  • In 2016, 1 in every 225 births ended in a stillbirth in the UK.
  • For every 1,000 babies born in England and Wales, 4.4 were stillborn.
  • Around 9 babies were stillborn every day in 2016.
  • Of 696,271 births in 2016 in England and Wales, 3,112 resulted in stillbirth.
  • In 2016, Britain was 24th out of 49 high income countries.
  • Croatia, Poland and Czech Republic all have better stillbirth rates than UK.

In 2013 the number of stillbirths in the UK was 3,284 (0.47% of all births) this was down from the 2011 figure of 3,811 (0.52% of all births) representing an 11% decline in the number of stillbirths. 

A third of stillborn babies are perfectly formed and born at gestations when they could safely be delivered. 

Only around 10% of stillbirths are thought to be caused by a fatal congenital abnormality, meaning there is the potential to save up to 90% of stillborn babies.

Women who present with reduced fetal movement have a four to seven fold higher risk of stillbirth 

A study conducted by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in San Diego found when fetal movement screening was implemented stillbirth rates dropped from 8.7 per 1000 to 2.1 per 1000

Stillbirth is 10 times more common that cot death 

Norway has seen a significant reduction in their stillbirth rate over the last 10 years while the UK’s has remained fairly stagnant. 

Studies from Norway have shown that an inappropriate clinical response to reduced fetal movement was a common contributing factor in stillbirths (Saastad E, Vangen S, Froen JE. Suboptimal care in stillbirths- a retrosepctive audit study. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2007; 86: 444-50) 

In Norway, a compariosn was made between the incidence of stillbirth before and after women were given written information about decreased fetal movements and a standard protocol for the management of reduced fetal movement was introduced. The incidence of stillbirth fell from 3.0 to 2.0 per 1000 during the intervention period. in women perceiving reduced fetal movement this fell from 42 to 24 per 1000 (RCOG Green top guidelines 57, february 2011) 

Research suggests a perception of reduced fetal movement affects up to 15% of pregnancies and one study found that in 55% of cases where reduced fetal movement had been reported a stillbirth occured (Clinical Review, Reduced fetal movements, Ciaran Crowe, 2011) 

Fourteen hospitals in Norway participated in this study which aimed to improve care by providing written information to pregnant women about Decreased Fetal Movement and to provide guidelines on Decreased Fetal Movement to health care providers. There was an overall decrease of stillbirths by 1/3, with no increase of preterm births, or need for neonatal care.