The Office for National Statistics has today published annual statistics on stillbirths, infant deaths and childhood deaths occurring annually in England and Wales, which includes a summary of the figures for the UK:

Neal Long, Chief Executive of Sands, said:

“The final 2013 data for stillbirths and neonatal deaths, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows the UK stillbirth rate has continued its downward trend since 2011, with 4.6 stillbirths in every 1000 births. This is the lowest recorded since 1992. This is after over a decade of stagnation in the UK stillbirth rate which is historically one of the worst in the developed world.

“The rate of neonatal deaths also fell slightly in 2013 to 2.7 per 1000 live births.

“While Sands welcomes the beginnings of a downward trend in recent years, we know much more can be done to bring rates down. We want to see the UK rate fall further, to 2–3 stillbirths per 1,000 births, as has been achieved in other countries.

“Sands has worked tirelessly since 2009 to raise awareness of the UK’s unacceptably high stillbirth rate.  Reducing neonatal mortality and stillbirths are now priority areas for the NHS in England¹. In recent years, programmes to improve antenatal detection of fetal growth restriction - a leading associated condition of stillbirth – have been rolled out in many units.

“Initiatives in stillbirth reduction in Scotland, following directly on from Sands’ first report in 2009 ‘Saving Babies’ Lives’, have resulted in the most consistent fall in the stillbirth rate among the four UK countries. In 2013, Scotland’s rate was 4.2 per 1,000.

“The downward trend in the stillbirth rate is not yet reflected in all parts of the UK. While the smaller populations in the devolved nations mean greater fluctuations in the mortality rates are to be expected, Scotland has demonstrated that a sustained fall is possible. 

“2013 also saw the largest drop in 40 years in the number of babies being born, from 816,908 births in 2012 to 782,431. As a result, there was a significant fall in the overall number of babies who died in the UK, from 6,198 in 2012 to 5,712 in 2013. With fewer births and therefore fewer deaths, it’s now no longer the case that 17 babies a day die before, during and shortly after the time of birth  – that  figure is now between 15 and 16.”


Notes to editors:

  2. The full statistics can be found here:
  3. For further information please contact the Sands press office on 020 3598 1959 or email
  4. Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, was established by bereaved parents in 1978 and obtained charity status in 1981. Sands’ core aims are to support anyone affected by the death of a baby; to work in partnership with health professionals to improve the quality of care and services offered to bereaved families; and to promote research and changes in practice that could help to reduce the loss of babies’ lives. Sands is a national organisation, with over 100 regional support groups across the UK.

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