The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released the latest data showing the number of stillbirths which occured between January and September 2020.
In England and Wales, the stillbirth rate decreased from 4.0 stillbirths per 1,000 total births in 2019 to 3.9 in the first three quarters (Jan to Sept) of 2020, in line with the long-term trend.
There were 1,835 stillbirths in the first three quarters (Jan to Sept) of 2020, 130 fewer than in the first three quarters of 2019.
Commenting on the ONS data, Dr Edward Morris, President of The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
"It’s encouraging to see that the number of stillbirths happening in England and Wales is continuing to fall.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has put huge pressure on all healthcare services. This continued decline in stillbirths is testament to the amazing efforts from maternity staff and NHS leaders to maintain a high standard of care, despite the challenges.
"We understand the pandemic has made many expectant parents very anxious and concerned about what their experience giving birth will be like. We hope this news will reassure them that maternity services are open and staff are working to provide services in a safe way.
"While these figures demonstrate progress in reducing stillbirth rates, the death of any baby is a tragedy. Much more needs to be done to ensure the safest possible maternity care for all women and their babies. Stillbirth rates are still higher in the UK than many other high-income countries and vary widely across the UK. The NHS Long Term plan has set a target of reducing stillbirths by 50% by 2025, and maternity services continue to work towards this goal.
"We continue to advise women who have concerns or worries about their or their baby’s health – including the baby's movements - to seek medical advice from their midwife or hospital as soon as possible."
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About the RCOG
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.