Stillbirths start to decrease again

Published on: 22/08/2023

Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed that rates of stillbirth in England and Wales decreased from 4.1/1000 births in 2021 to 4.0/1000 in 2022. However, this is still higher than the rate observed before the coronavirus pandemic in 2019 (3.9).

In 2022, there were 2,433 stillbirths, a decrease of 164 (6.3%) from 2,597 in 2021. There were 2,522 stillbirths in 2019.

The data also shows that there continues to be significant variation in stillbirth rates across different parts of England and Wales.

A brief summary…

There were 605,479 live births in England and Wales in 2022, a 3.1% decrease from 624,828 in 2021 and the lowest number since 2002; the number remains in line with the recent trend of decreasing live births observed before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

For Wales the stillbirth rate has remained at 4.4 stillbirths per 1,000 total births since 2020.

In England, the government has an ambition to halve the 2010 stillbirth rate by 2025. To achieve this, the stillbirth rate would need to decrease to 2.6 stillbirths per 1,000 total births. In 2022, the stillbirth rate for England decreased to 3.9 stillbirths per 1,000 total births from 4.1 stillbirths per 1,000 total births in 2021.

The regions in England with the highest stillbirth rates were the North East and West Midlands at 4.3 stillbirths per 1,000 total births in 2022. The South West had the lowest stillbirth rate with 2.9 stillbirths per 1,000 total births.

Heidi Eldridge, CEO of MAMA Academy said: “These sad statistics highlight the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the fact that the government’s ambition of a 50% reduction in stillbirths by 2025 will not be met unless urgent action is taken by the government and NHS England. Maternity services and saving babies lives must be made a priority immediately and put back to the governments agenda. As a safer pregnancy charity, MAMA Academy remains more committed than ever to provide our life saving resources to every NHS Trust to help save more babies lives.

We are calling on the government to invest and rectify the current midwifery shortage and for all NHS Trusts to implement the actions stated in the Ockenden report to improve maternity services for all expectant parents and their babies.

Our thoughts are with all the families and their friends who had to say goodbye to their precious baby last year, all 2,433 of them.”