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Background: Considering the public health importance of stillbirth, this study quantified the trends in stillbirths over eight decades in England and Wales. Methods: This longitudinal study utilized the publicly available aggregated data from the Office for National Statistics that captured maternity information for babies delivered in England and Wales from 1940 to 2019. We computed the trends in stillbirth with the associated incidence risk difference, incidence risk ratio, and extra lives saved per decade. Results: From 1940-2019, 56 906 273 births were reported. The stillbirth rate declined (85%) drastically up to the early 1980s. In the initial five decades, the estimated number of deaths per decade further decreased by 67 765 (9.49/1000 births) in 1940-1949, 2569 (0.08/1000 births) in 1950-1959, 9121 (3.50/1000 births) in 1960-1969, 15 262 (2.31/1000 births) in 1970-1979, and 10 284 (1.57/1000 births) in 1980-1989. However, the stillbirth rate increased by an additional 3850 (0.58/1000 births) stillbirths in 1990-1999 and 693 (0.11/1000 births) stillbirths in 2000-2009. The stillbirth rate declined again during 2010-2019, with 3714 fewer stillbirths (0.54/1000 births). The incidence of maternal age <20 years reduced over time, but pregnancy among older women (>35 years) increased. Conclusions: The stillbirth rate declined drastically, but the rate of decline slowed in the last three decades. Though teenage pregnancy (<20 years) had reduced, the prevalence of women with a higher risk of stillbirth may have risen due to an increase in advanced maternal age. Improved, more personalised care is required to reduce the stillbirth rate further.

Original publication




Journal article


J glob health

Publication Date





Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Female, Humans, Infant, Longitudinal Studies, Maternal Age, Maternal Health Services, Pregnancy, Stillbirth, Wales, Young Adult