A structured review and exploration of the healthcare costs associated with stillbirth and a subsequent pregnancy in England and Wales
1 Health Economics Unit, School of Health and Population Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
2 Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, St Mary’s Hospital, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9WL, UK
3 York Health Economics Consortium, University of York, York YO10 5NH, UK
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013, 13:236 doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-236Published: 17 December 2013
In contrast to other pregnancy complications the economic impact of stillbirth is poorly understood. We aimed to carry out a preliminary exploration of the healthcare costs of stillbirth from the time of pregnancy loss and the period afterwards; also to explore and include the impact of a previous stillbirth on the healthcare costs of the next pregnancy.
A structured review of the literature including cost studies and description of costs to health-care providers for care provided at the time of stillbirth and in a subsequent pregnancy. Costs in a subsequent pregnancy were compared in three alternative models of care for multiparous women developed from national guidelines and expert opinion: i) “low risk” women who had a live birth, ii) “high risk” women who had a live birth and iii) women with a previous stillbirth.
The costs to the National Health Service (NHS) for investigation immediately following stillbirth ranged from £1,242 (core recommended investigations) to £1,804 (comprehensive investigation). The costs in the next pregnancy following a stillbirth ranged from £2,147 (low-risk woman with a previous healthy child) to £3,751 (Woman with a previous stillbirth of unknown cause). The cost in the next pregnancy following a stillbirth due to a known recurrent or an unknown cause is almost £500 greater than the pregnancy following a stillbirth due to a known non-recurrent cause.
The study has highlighted the paucity of evidence regarding economic issues surrounding stillbirth. Women who have experienced a previous stillbirth are likely to utilise more health care services in their next pregnancy particularly where no cause is found. Every effort should be made to determine the cause of stillbirth to reduce the overall cost to the NHS. The cost associated with identifying the cause of stillbirth could offset the costs of care in the next pregnancy. Future research should concentrate on robust studies looking into the wider economic impact of stillbirth.