Research published today shows that the stillbirth rate in the UK has reduced by almost 8% over the period 2013 to 2015. A current Government ambition is to halve the rates of stillbirth and neonatal death in England by 2030. These findings indicate that things are moving in the right direction.
The MBRRACE-UK report focuses on rates of stillbirth and neonatal death across the UK for babies born at 24 weeks of gestation or more. The report found that in 2015 the stillbirth rate was 3.87 per 1,000 total births, a fall from 4.20 per 1,000 total births in 2013. Despite this reduction. UK stillbirth rates remain high compared with many similar European countries and there remains significant variation across the UK that is not solely explained by some of the important factors that influence the rate of death such as poverty, mother’s age, multiple birth and ethnicity.
“Whilst the overall findings are good news, as two thirds of all stillbirths are born preterm we need to identify the extent to which preterm stillbirths are avoidable to enable the development of practices and policies to prevent these stillbirths and to reduce any variation in the quality of care across the UK.”
Over the same period the neonatal death rate has remained fairly static with a fall between 2013 and 2015 from 1.84 to 1.74 deaths per 1,000 live births, indicating that more work is required to prevent these deaths in the future. Data for the Neonatal Networks shows that neonatal mortality rates vary between 1.15 and 3.21 deaths per 1,000 live births. Much of this variation is accounted for by differences in the proportion of babies dying from a major congenital anomaly.
“The fall in the rate of stillbirths and neonatal deaths in the UK is hugely welcome, and is clearly a move in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go before we come close to matching the much lower rates in comparable countries.
The report shows that infection was the cause of death for 213 stillbirths and neonatal deaths for births in 2015. It does not report what proportion of these were caused by group B Strep, but we know that better prevention of these infections is needed if the Government ambition of reducing stillbirth, neonatal death and brain injury around birth by 50% by 2030.”
If you would like to download the report, click here.