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Stillborn deprivation gap 'hasn't changed in eight years'

Babies born by mothers from poorer backgrounds in England are twice as likely to be stillborn, research finds.

The inequality rate has remained the same for eight years.

A study published in BMJ Open analysed all singleton stillbirths in England between 2000 and 2007.

For every 10,000 births during the eight-year period, 44 were stillborn babies.

Women living in the most deprived parts 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 more affluent.

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

More than half of stillbirths (59%) were deaths in the womb of “unknown cause”.

Overall stillborn rates were twice as high among the most deprived areas of England as they were among the least deprived.

Despite improvements in healthcare in developed nations, stillbirth remains relatively common with the UK having one of the highest rates in the world.

“If the stillbirth 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.