Promoting and funding research that could help to reduce stillbirth and neonatal death is one of our three core aims.

We support a range of projects and promote collaboration among researchers to agree priorities and ensure that the limited funds we have are put to best use.

In 2018 we funded: 


For an otherwise healthy baby to die undelivered near term is, with hindsight, an easily avoidable event. Research to make it avoidable in practice is a priority.” Professor Jim Thornton, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Nottingham

Sadly, the death of a baby is not a rare event: around 14 babies die before, during or soon after birth every day in the UK.

In 2018 in the UK:*

  • one in every 250 births was a stillbirth
  • one in every 360 babies died within the first 4 weeks of life

*Data from the Office for National Statistics, 2019

Sometimes people think that babies are stillborn because the baby has not developed properly and so could not live. But this is not the case for most stillbirths. In fact, only one in ten stillborn babies has a congenital abnormality (sometimes called a birth defect) that means he or she couldn’t live.

Research is starting to show that the placenta isn’t working properly in many pregnancies ending in stillbirth. There are many reasons why this might happen, and much more research is needed to find the causes.

And there are other causes of stillbirth and neonatal death, such as infections and genetic disorders, that need studying so we can better understand how to identify babies at risk.

Sands supports research to help answer the questions that surround stillbirth and neonatal death. We fund some research directly and support other studies by helping to recruit participants or acting as co-applicants on funding applications.

Please help us support this vital research by donating to Sands. You can donate specifically to the Sands Research Fund if you wish.

Animals in research

Sands supports the Association of Medical Research Charities’ statement on research involving animals.



Find out more about Research below

Our Studies

We’re dedicated to supporting research into:

  • the causes of stillbirths and neonatal deaths.
  • better ways of identifying and monitoring babies at increased risk of dying.

Sands contributes to the funding of some research studies using money from our research fund.

Read more about the studies we support here

Supporting research

Sands regularly receives requests for help with research into aspects of stillbirth and neonatal death. Requests include assistance in recruiting participants and advising on specific aspects of a proposed study. 

While we welcome research activities in this important area, we have the capacity to support only those projects that aim to:

  • reduce the numbers of babies dying, or
  • improve bereavement care.

Read more about the research we support here

Apply for research funding

Sands aims to reduce the number of babies dying and to improve bereavement care for all parents and families.

To help us meet our aims, we fund research focusing on:

  • understanding the causes of stillbirth and neonatal death
  • identifying pregnancies at risk of perinatal deaths and improving care for those pregnancies 
  • improving bereavement care.

We will consider proposals from UK-based researchers that focus on: 
•    understanding the causes of stillbirth and neonatal death, and/or
•    identifying pregnancies at risk of perinatal death, and/or 
•    improving interventions to manage at-risk pregnancies, or
•    optimising bereavement care

Find out more about how to apply for research funding here

Stillbirth Priority Setting Partnership

The Late Stillbirth Priority Setting Partnership (Stillbirth PSP) brought together the views of bereaved parents, health professionals, researchers and charities on what they think are the most important unanswered questions around late stillbirth.

The 11 priority questions identified by the PSP are below. These will help research groups and the funding organisations make decisions on designing and funding research into this vitally important area. Read the full process overview and results from the Stillbirth PSP.

Read more about the Stillbirth Priority Setting Partnership here

Stillbirth Clinical Studies Group

Sands supports the Stillbirth Clinical Studies Group – a group of clinicians and scientists who meet twice a year to discuss research focusing on stillbirth. The aim is to share expertise and knowledge and help those working in this area to design and carry out good-quality research that provides useful results.

The current Group members are listed below. The Group is chaired by Dr Sarah Stock, University of Edinburgh, and meets at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London.

Read more about the Stillbirth Clinical Studies Group here

amrc, association of medical research charities, sands

AMRC membership

We fund research of the highest quality and are proud members of the Association of Medical Research Charities. The AMRC is the national membership organisation of leading medical and health research charities.