Black and Asian babies have highest rates of stillbirths and infant mortality, landmark analysis shows

ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan reports on the landmark analysis

Black and Asian babies have higher stillbirth and infant mortality rates than their white counterparts, new data has shown.

The disparities have been revealed after the Office of National Statistics (ONS) broke stillbirth and infant mortality data down by ethnicity for the first time.

The analysis shows that between 2007 and 2019, black babies suffered the worst outcomes, while Asian babies consistently had the second highest rates.

What are the stillbirth rates among black, asian and white babies and how do they compare?

The analysis shows that in 2019, black babies suffered the worst outcomes, while Asian babies consistently had the second highest rates. Credit: ITV News Graphics

In 2019, the stillbirth rate for black babies births was 7.1 per 1,000 births, while the infant mortality rate was 6.4 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Meanwhile, the stillbirth rate for Asian babies was 5.1 per 1,000 births. The infant mortality rate was 5.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.White babies had the lowest infant mortality and stillbirth rates across all twelve years studied except for 2019, when the "mixed or multiple ethnic groups" category had the lowest stillbirth rate.

'It dents your identity, it dents your DNA': Eva describes what it feels like to have experienced the loss of five babies

Eva Ssanyu Nabunya has had three stillborns and two miscarriages - babies which she calls her angels.

She told Health Editor Emily Morgan: "They give you the words, 'I'm sorry to say this, there's no heartbeat', that feeling is numbing."

"Doing it five times, and still not being successful - it really dents you. It dents your identity, it dents your DNA."

The breakdown of figures also shows that stillbirth rate and infant mortality rate for each ethnic group fluctuated but generally decreased from 2007 to 2019.

According to the ONS, deprivation is a known factor for stillbirths and infant mortality.

A higher proportion of live births within Asian and black ethnic groups (and groups categorised as "other") were in the most deprived areas.

Credit: AP

The statistics also show that for most ethnic groups, immaturity-related conditions are the main cause of infant mortality. However, for Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic groups, the main cause of death is congenital anomalies.

"One known risk factor for both stillbirths and infant mortality is deprivation. Babies from Asian, Black and Any Other ethnic group were more likely to live in more deprived areas compared with their white counterparts which could explain higher rates in those ethnic groups,” said Thomas Maddox, of the Office for National Statistics.

Who can I or someone else contact for support?

  • Stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands' free Helpline is available on 0808 164 3332 10am to 3pm Monday to Friday and 6-9pm Tuesday and Thursday evenings. You can also email for support.

  • Petals provides a similar service - 0300 688 008

  • Action on Pre-eclampsia offers help to those whose stillbirth has been caused by pre-eclampsia - 01386 761848

  • ICP Support is available to support those who've suffered a loss due to intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy - 0121 323 4316