Stillbirth rate twice as high among least well off in England

June 26, 2012, British Medical Journal

The rate of stillbirths in England is twice as high among the least well off as it is among the most affluent, shows research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

What is more, this inequality gap is evident across all causes of stillbirth, and has not changed in eight years, the findings show.

The authors assessed the number of occurring in England between 2000 to 2007, inclusive. They looked in particular at the specific causes of stillbirth per 10,000 births, in light of deprivation levels and year of birth.

Deprivation was measured at area level, using the UK index of multiple deprivation, and the most deprived 10ths were compared with the least deprived, to assess the extent of any inequality gap.

For every 10,000 births during the eight year period, 44 were stillborn babies, a rate that remained constant throughout.

Rates were twice as high among the most deprived 10th of England as they were among the least deprived - a disparity that remained constant throughout the study period.

This inequality gap was evident for all specific causes other than mechanical events, such as breech presentation, with the widest gap of all seen for bleeding before birth (antepartum haemorrhage).

Women living in the most deprived 10th of England were three times as likely to give birth to a stillborn baby following a bleed before their due date (antepartum haemorrhage), as those living in the least deprived 10th.

Risk factors for this condition include previous pregnancies, several pregnancies close together, smoking, and being at the extreme ends of the reproductive age spectrum, say the authors.

Similarly, stillbirths attributable to were nearly three times more likely among women from the areas of greatest deprivation.

Over half of stillbirths (59%) were deaths in the womb of unknown cause, and these accounted for around half of the gap in stillbirth rates between the least and most deprived areas, the findings showed.

Despite improvements in healthcare in developed nations, stillbirth remains relatively common, and the UK has one of the highest rates, say the authors, who add that their findings confirm previous trends.

"If the rates seen in the least deprived areas were seen throughout the population, there would be a third fewer stillbirths in England, nearly 900 fewer every year," they conclude.

The evidence from other high income countries, where the rate has fallen, suggests that there are modifiable factors, which can be addressed, they add.

Explore further: 'Back To Sleep' message took longer to reach deprived areas

More information: doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001100

Related Stories

'Back To Sleep' message took longer to reach deprived areas

March 19, 2012
The “Back To Sleep” campaign, which played a crucial role in preventing SIDS in the 1990s, took up to 15 years to work in areas of high socio-economic deprivation, a new study reveals.

Stillbirth risk affected by mother's sleep position

June 16, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- In a new study published in the British Medical Journal, Tomasina Stacey from the University of Auckland’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology revealed that women who do not sleep on their left side ...

Recommended for you

New report calls into question effectiveness of pregnancy anti-nausea drug

January 17, 2018
Previously unpublished information from the clinical trial that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relied on to approve the most commonly prescribed medicine for nausea in pregnancy indicates the drug is not effective, ...

New study finds 'baby brain' is real, but the cause remains mysterious

January 15, 2018
So-called "baby brain" refers to increased forgetfulness, inattention, and mental "fogginess" reported by four out of five pregnant women. These changes in brain function during pregnancy have long been recognised in midwifery ...

Sleep quality improves with help of incontinence drug

January 12, 2018
A drug used to curtail episodes of urinary incontinence in women also improves quality of sleep, a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine reports.

Frozen embryos result in just as many live births in IVF

January 10, 2018
Freezing and subsequent transfer of embryos gives infertile couples just as much of a chance of having a child as using fresh embryos for in vitro fertilization (IVF), research from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Adelaide, ...

Study suggests air pollution breathed in the months before and after conception increases chance of birth defects

January 8, 2018
A team of researchers with the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital has found evidence that indicates that pre-and post-pregnant women living in an area with air pollution are at an increased risk of ...

Taking paracetamol during pregnancy may reduce fertility of daughters

January 5, 2018
Taking paracetamol during pregnancy may impair the future fertility of female offspring, according to a review published in Endocrine Connections. The article reviews three separate rodent studies that all report altered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.