MBRRACE reports continued reduction in stillbirth and neonatal death

Published on: 15/10/2021

This week the latest MBRRACE-UK perinatal mortality surveillance report was published, reviewing the data for the deaths of babies in 2019. Whilst a tragic number of babies died, the continuing reductions in stillbirth and neonatal death rates are positive developments.

In 2019, 2399 babies were stillborn and 1158 babies died in the neonatal period, the equivalent of around 10 babies every day. This is a 20% reduction in the stillbirth rate and a 12% reduction in the neonatal death rate since 2013. Comparing the 2013 rates to those in subsequent years up to 2019, this equates to around 2910 babies’ lives saved since 2013.

MBRRACE-UK Perinatal Surveillance Report 2019 infographic

The reduction in stillbirth rates is due in large part to a significant drop in stillbirths at term (above 37 weeks’ gestation), down 19% between 2015 and 2019. The speed of this reduction is increasing, particularly since 2017, which is testament to many fantastic initiatives being implemented across the country, such as the Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle.

The data does continue to show the significant impact of ethnicity and social deprivation on stillbirth and neonatal death rates. Women and birthing people from ethnic minorities and from the most socially deprived areas have significantly higher stillbirth and neonatal death (also known as perinatal mortality) rates.

There is still a long way to go to meet the government’s target of a 50% reduction in stillbirth and neonatal death rates by 2025, but the progress is heartening to see.

Heidi Eldridge, MAMA Academy’s CEO, said: “Here at MAMA Academy, the very cornerstone of our purpose is to reduce perinatal death and help more babies arrive safely, so this data is absolutely vital to us. Once again, we see another strong reduction in both stillbirth and neonatal death rates, which is very encouraging. We must however all redouble our efforts to end preventable stillbirth, and not rest on the laurels these numbers provide. It is evident that there is much work still to be done to reduce inequality in outcomes, and continuing focus needs to be given to work to support the most vulnerable groups in our society, both during pregnancy and preconception, as it is clear that they are disproportionately impacted by baby loss.

Collecting this data is so important to help us develop a clear picture of the maternity landscape, and we commend the work being done by the MBRRACE team and staff in trusts nationwide to make sure that, even in the most tragic situations, we are gathering the information that allows us to learn, because we do the best we can do until we know better, and when we know better, we can do better.

 At a time where maternity and perinatal services are under unprecedented strain, we are so grateful to the efforts of midwives, doctors, neonatal nurses and associated staff all over the country continuing to reduce the baby death rates and supporting families through both happy and sad experiences under the most trying circumstances.”

Read a summary of the MBRRACE report here.