Twin stillbirths are increasing, according to latest MBRRACE-UK report

on 18 October 2021

Twin stillbirths have increased according to the MBRRACE-UK Perinatal Mortality Surveillance Report for Births 2019.

The report states that in 2019 there were 6.68 twin stillbirths per 1,000 births, an increase from 6.07 reported in 2018. This means that women expecting twins were 2.2 times more likely to experience stillbirth than women expecting singletons.

Neonatal deaths in twins have slightly decreased, but have increased for triplets or more. In 2019, multiples were 4.1 times more likely to experience neonatal death than in singletons.

The report shows that the twin stillbirth rate is one of the highest rates in all groups identified in the report, except for Black families where the rate is 7.23.

From the finding, MBRRACE-UK have recommended the enhancement of existing programmes to accelerate the reduction of stillbirths and neonatal deaths to meet national targets. The report also emphasises on reducing rates of preterm birth, particularly in the most extreme preterm group which multiple births are a part of.

In response to the report, The Twins Trust said that the Twins Trust Maternity and Engagement quality improvement project (T-MEP) could make a difference in saving babies’ lives if implemented across the UK.

In 24 months 30 maternity units in England saw a 23% reduction in neonatal admissions, 18% decline in neonatal deaths, a 7% reduction in stillbirths and 6% reduction in emergency caesarean sections where T-MEP guidance was implemented.

CEO of the Twins Trust, Shauna Leven, said: “It is critical that maternity unit adhere to NICE multiple birth guidance and our T-MEP quality improvement project can help them do this – and save lives.

“If we could expand our programme, it would contribute considerably to improving maternity safety as well as contributing 5-7% towards the national ambition.

“Although the initial target in England to reduce mortality rates by 20% by 2020 has been met for stillbirths, the smaller reduction in neonatal mortality rates suggests that this target will not be met for neonatal deaths.

“Nevertheless, even for stillbirths there is still much work to be done to achieve the English Department of Health’s revised target of a 50% reduction in mortality rates by 2025 which would result in more favourable comparisons with other similar high-income countries.”

The MBRRACE-UK report can be found here.