Stillbirth – what’s the cost? is a study that will bring together all the costs around stillbirth and publish them in the second Lancet Stillbirth Series (see below).

Why the study is needed

In today’s world, decisions about healthcare take into account the effectiveness of medicines, surgical procedures or screening programmes and their value for money.  The gap in knowledge about the costs of a stillbirth, and who pays, means that decisions and recommendations to improve maternity care too often ignore stillbirth.

What’s involved

A research team will find, bring together and publish information on the costs around stillbirth. These will include the cost of:

  • providing medical care
  • welfare payments
  • absence from work
  • the missing contribution to society that the person would have made
  • more monitoring and appointments for pregnancies after a stillbirth
  • the impact of a baby’s death on the parents and other family members.

When the study is published, health organisations that make recommendations for maternity care (such as NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) can use the information to compare the cost of changing care to reduce the risk of stillbirth with the costs of not changing (the cost of the current number of stillbirths). While cost is not the only consideration in making these decisions, a lack of understanding of the cost of stillbirth does not help.

Research team

Dr Alexander Heazell, Clinical Director of the Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre, Manchester University, and Dr Dimitrios Siassakos from the University of Bristol are leading the study. Other members of the team will have specialist skills in searching for information and working out the costs.

Timescale

The second Lancet Stillbirth Series is scheduled for publication in early 2016.

Funding

The project has been awarded £20,000.

What is the Lancet Stillbirth Series?

The Lancet is a well-known international journal for doctors, healthcare staff and researchers that covers a wide range of topics. In 2011, the journal published an edition dedicated to stillbirth – this was the first Lancet Stillbirth Series. It generated huge interest worldwide and focused global attention on stillbirth. Its chapters (papers) made recommendations for reducing the risk in both rich and poor countries, and talked about the impact of a stillbirth on parents. The Lancet editors working on the first Series commented that “these papers, like no other Lancet Series before, have triggered a remarkable response not just from academia and organisations, but also from the public”.

The second Lancet Stillbirth Series will follow on from the success of the first, aiming to help countries such as the UK meet the goal set by the Lancet Stillbirth Series authors and the International Stillbirth Alliance to eliminate all preventable stillbirths by 2020.

More information

For papers and media coverage from the first Lancet Stillbirth Series, go to www.thelancet.com/series/stillbirth