Stillbirth – what’s the cost? was a project that brought together all the costs around stillbirth for a paper that was published in the second Lancet Stillbirth Series ‘Ending Preventable Deaths’. Visit www.thelancet.com/series/ending-preventable-stillbirths for the full set of papers and comments (you will need to create an account to download the documents, but there is no cost to do this. All articles are free of charge).
 

Why was the project needed?

In today’s world, decisions about healthcare take into account the effectiveness of medicines, surgical procedures or screening programmes and their value for money. The gap in knowledge about the costs of a stillbirth, and who pays, means that decisions and recommendations to improve maternity care too often ignore stillbirth. This project was the first to try to pull together all the costs.
 

What was involved?

The research team found, analysed and reported information on the costs around stillbirth. They tried to included the costs of:

  • providing medical care
  • welfare payments
  • absence from work
  • the missing contribution to society that the person would have made
  • more monitoring and appointments for pregnancies after a stillbirth
  • the impact of a baby’s death on the parents and other family members.

The research team found that some of the information needed for this analysis was not available as it simply hadn’t been collected. This highlights the need for better data collection about stillbirths and the effects on all those whose lives are touched by the death of the baby. The information that the team was able to analyse suggested that the economic effects of stillbirths are substantial but the total impact is greatly underappreciated.
 

Research team

Dr Alexander Heazell, Clinical Director of the Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre, Manchester University, and Dr Dimitrios Siassakos from the University of Bristol led the study.
 

Timescale

The second Lancet Stillbirth Series was published in early 2016.
 

Funding

The project was awarded £20,000.
 

What are the Lancet Stillbirth Series?

The Lancet is a well-known international journal for doctors, healthcare staff and researchers that covers a wide range of topics. In 2011, the journal published an edition dedicated to stillbirth – this was the first Lancet Stillbirth Series. It generated huge interest worldwide and focused global attention on stillbirth. Its chapters (papers) made recommendations for reducing the risk in both rich and poor countries, and talked about the impact of a stillbirth on parents. The Lancet editors working on the first Series commented that “these papers, like no other Lancet Series before, have triggered a remarkable response not just from academia and organisations, but also from the public”.

The second Lancet Stillbirth Series followed on from the success of the first, aiming to help countries such as the UK meet the goal set by the Lancet Stillbirth Series authors and the International Stillbirth Alliance to eliminate all preventable stillbirths by 2030.
 

More information

For papers and media coverage from the first Lancet Stillbirth Series, go to www.thelancet.com/series/stillbirth.