Stillbirth - the statistics
The term stillbirth refers to death at, or before birth, of any baby who is more than twenty-four weeks*. Data collected in 1999 for England and Wales by the Office For National Statistics found that there were 279 Sudden Infant Deaths (SID**), a decrease of 2% on the previous year. However, the SID rate remained the same as in 1998 at 0.45 per 1,000 live births.
During the period 1995-1999, SID was more prevalent amongst boys than girls. During that time, 60% of all SIDs occurred amongst boys, whilst boys accounted for 51% of all live births. 88% of all SIDs occurred in the postnatal period (i.e. death at 28 days and over).
There were 31% more SID in the three months of January to March than in July to September.
SID rate was highest where children were born to mothers aged under 20 at time of birth.
SID rate was highest amongst babies born into a marriage with a father of social class V, compared to babies of fathers in other social classes.
SID rate was higher for babies weighing 1.500-1.999 grams, which then decreased with increasing birthweight.
SID rate was lowest for babies born within marriage.
Stillbirth is a relatively common, but often random, occurrence. The mean stillbirth rate in the United States is approximately 1 in 115 births, which is roughly 26,000 stillbirths each year, or on an average one every 20 minutes. In Australia, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the rate is approximately 1 in every 200 births, in Scotland 1 in 167. (From The National Statistical Office and other sources.)
It's so hard to read over these horrible statistics. Our losses happen so often. So many, many tiny angels... the scope of this tragedy is horrific.
Just to let you know, I've also received some stats and support from a woman regarding medical terminations due to foetal abnormalities. Everyone's loss is deeply traumatic and one loss can't be "weighed against" another. You know: it's impossible to determine which loss is worse. It's very personal and impossible to quantify.
But.... I think that these parents must suffer a deep double whammy: first to have to make such an agonising choice, and then to feel they have to be all the more silent about it, fearing they'd be judged for their decision. I'm including the stats this woman is giving me too, because I feel strongly that these parents deserve equal support.
Thank you again. You are all very important people in my life.
"Nothing that grieves us can be called little: a child's loss of a doll and a king's loss of a crown are events of the same size"
-- Mark Twain