Key Messages

Sadly, the death of a baby is not a rare event. Around 13 babies die shortly before, during or soon after birth every day in the UK

  • There were 4,870 baby deaths in the UK in 2021, of which 2,866 were stillbirths and 2,004 were neonatal deaths (source: ONS)
  • The mortality rate is the number of deaths per 1,000 births . For the UK in 2021, the stillbirth rate was 4.1 and the neonatal death rate was 2.9, giving a perinatal death rate of 7.0 deaths per 1,000 births (source: ONS
  • The rate of baby deaths over the past decade has been decreasing (from 8.1 in 2010 to 6.6 in 2020), but from 2020 to 2021 it increased to 7.0 (source: ONS).
  • The rates are higher still for babies of Black and South Asian ethnicity and for babies whose families live in the more deprived areas of the UK (source: MBRRACE-UK).
  • The cause of death for one third of stillbirths is unknown, with another third being caused by problems with the placenta (source: MBRRACE-UK).
  • National reports suggest that up to 1 in 5 deaths is potentially avoidable if national and local guidelines around maternity safety were appropriately used for every pregnancy and birth (source: PMRT)
  • There's still much uncertainty around the numbers and rates of pregnancy loss, with evidence suggesting 15 out of every 100 pregnancies end in miscarriage in the UK (source: Sands & Tommy's Joint Policy Unit).
  • The UK's baby death rate is average compared to other European countries, but some other countries consistently perform better e.g. Sweden, showing lower rates are possible (source: Europeristat).

More information is available in the 2021 data reports from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and MBRRACE-UK.


We have put together a guide to help you understand the statistics and explain what the numbers mean, who the different organisations involved are and how this information is used to improve care and save babies' lives.

Find more detail about each of the key messages above and more in the sections below.

Changes in rates over time

The rate of baby deaths has been falling over the past decade. We break down the figures for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This helps inform our local and national work to save babies' lives and improve care for all families.
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Inequalities and baby deaths

Ethnicity and social deprivation are strongly linked with an increased risk of a baby dying. Here we explore statistics around these inequalities, highlighting where more work is needed to address this vital issue.
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Causes of baby death

We explore the most recent information we have on the medical causes of baby death and what these mean. While the cause of a significant proportion of stillbirths is still unknown, information is improving all the time.
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Different types of loss

We show the number of different types of pregnancy loss and baby death, highlighting some of the challenges in collecting up to date information for some types of loss.
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We explore the estimated risks of miscarriage in the UK and explain why it is difficult to know how many women experience pregnancy loss each year.
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International comparisons

We compare the rates of baby deaths in the UK with other European and international countries. We explain why such comparisons are not an exact science but how important these are in order to focus national policy to reduce baby deaths in the UK.
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You can find even more detailed information and analysis in the Sands & Tommy's Joint Policy Unit's Annual Progress report.
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