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RCOG response to The Lancet: Ending preventable stillbirths series

News 19 January 2016

The Lancet has published a five-paper series on ending preventable stillbirths. The series reports on the present state of stillbirths, highlights missed opportunities, and identifies actions for accelerated progress to end preventable stillbirths and reach 2030 maternal, neonatal, and child survival targets. 

Dr David Richmond, President of the RCOG, said:

“This comprehensive series of papers presents a ‘wake-up call’ to governments worldwide to make faster progress in reducing the number of stillbirths, which wreak untold damage on families, care givers and communities. In low and middle income countries, most stillbirths could be prevented with straightforward improvements to antenatal care and the care of women and their babies during childbirth, and we support the call for recommendations on preventing stillbirths to be included in every country’s Newborn Action Plan.

“In the UK, there is still much to be done to ensure our rate of progress is as good as the best in Europe. As leaders of the profession, we are committed to understanding more about stillbirths, improving multi-disciplinary training packages and promoting more effective team working to help doctors and midwives pick up potential complications and reduce the number of babies who are stillborn.

“We have also identified that local reviews following stillbirth remain an area in need of clear improvement. Through the RCOG’s Each Baby Counts initiative, we are this year beginning to undertake a structured review of each and every stillbirth that occurs during labour in term pregnancies to help identify common risk factors, learn from what went wrong and apply the lessons in maternity units across the country.

“The series highlights that much is still unknown about the causes of stillbirth and it will be the role of the RCOG to translate any new research or emerging evidence into changes to practice in the UK. Promotion of messages which may help women reduce the risk of stillbirth – such as maintaining a healthy weight prior to conception, stopping smoking and attending antenatal appointments – are all essential components to help end preventable stillbirths worldwide. Additionally, the messages within the recent MBRRACE stillbirth review in the UK – which include recognising risk factors for gestational diabetes and implementation of recommendations for care, measuring and recording of growth as well as fetal movements – are just as relevant globally as they are here in the UK.”

Notes to editors:

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologistsis 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.

The RCOG’s Each Baby Counts national quality improvement programme was launched in October 2014 and is a major five-year project to reduce the number of stillbirths, neonatal deaths and brain injuries occurring as a result of incidents during term labour by 50% by 2020.

MBRRACE-UK confidential enquiry into perinatal mortality: term, singleton, normally-formed, antepartum stillbirths (published on 19 November, 2015).

For further information, please contact the RCOG Media and PR team on +44 20 7772 6300 or email