Research shows higher rates of stillbirth and neonatal death for those living in deprived areas, minority ethnic groups and twin pregnancies
People living in the UK’s most deprived areas, minority ethnic groups and those with twin pregnancies all continue to experience higher rates of stillbirth and neonatal death according to new research from the MBRRACE-UK team at the University of Leicester.
A report published today (Thursday 13 October 2022) shows that the stillbirth rate in the UK has reduced by 21% over the period 2013 to 2020 to 3.33 per 1,000 total births. Over the same period the neonatal mortality rate has reduced by 17% to 1.53 per 1,000 births. However despite these improvements wide inequalities still persist, with those living in the most deprived areas, minority ethnic groups and twin pregnancies all experiencing higher rates of still birth.
Professor Elizabeth Draper, Professor of Perinatal and Paediatric Epidemiology at the University of Leicester, said: “In this report we have carried out a deeper dive into the impact of deprivation and ethnicity on stillbirth and neonatal death rates. For the first time, we report on outcomes for babies of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean and Black African rather than reporting on broader Asian and black ethnic groups, who have diverse backgrounds, culture and experiences. This additional information will help in the targeting of intervention and support programmes to try and reduce stillbirth and neonatal death.
“We have also carried out a detailed analysis of the stillbirth and neonatal death rates and trends over time for twin pregnancies to complement our previous confidential enquiry that looked at the quality of care provision for twin pregnancies affected by stillbirth and neonatal death.”
The main findings from this surveillance report for the period 2016 to 2020 included:
• The lowest stillbirth rates were for babies of White ethnicity from the least deprived areas, at 2.78 per 1,000 total births.
• The highest stillbirth rates were for babies of Black African and Black Caribbean ethnicity from the most deprived areas, at around eight per 1,000 total births.
• The neonatal death rate for babies of White ethnicity from the least deprived areas was 1.26 per 1,000 total births.
• The highest neonatal death rates were for babies of Pakistani and Black African ethnicity from the most deprived areas, at over three per 1,000 live births.
• Compared with other ethnicities, babies of Black African, Black Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnicity are nearly twice as likely to be from deprived areas. They are much more affected by the higher rates of stillbirth and neonatal death associated with deprivation
• There was a 19% increase in the twin stillbirth rate and a 16% increase in the twin neonatal death rate
• Over the past five years the gap between singleton and twin death rates has become wider
• Compared to singletons the risk of stillbirth is over twice as high in twins and the risk of neonatal death is over three times higher
The Maternal, Newborn and Infant Clinical Outcome Review Programme is run by MBRRACE-UK, a collaboration led from the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit in Oxford with members from the University of Leicester, who lead the perinatal aspects of the work, and the University of Birmingham, The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, and Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity.