National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Stillbirths and Infant Deaths

Stillbirths and Infant Deaths

This page provides information which is specifically about the National Records of Scotland (NRS) statistics of Stillbirths and Infant Deaths. 

The arrangements for registering stillbirths are broadly the same as those for registering births - refer to the Births section page on Registration arrangements.


Stillbirths - Section 56(1) of the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1965 defined a stillbirth as a child which had issued forth from its mother after the 28th week of pregnancy and which did not breathe or show any other sign of life. The Still-Birth (Definition) Act 1992, which came into effect on 1 October 1992, amended Section 56(1) of the 1965 Act (and other relevant UK legislation), replacing the reference to the 28th week with a reference to the 24th week.

The tables in Section 4 of the Vital Events Reference Tables show figures for all gestations of 24 weeks or longer but to assist in the interpretation of trends, most time series tables show figures based on both the old and the new definitions.

Perinatal deaths refer to stillbirths and deaths in the first week of life.

Neonatal deaths refer to deaths in the first four weeks of life.

Postneonatal deaths refer to deaths after the first four weeks but before the end of the first year.

Infant deaths refer to all deaths in the first year of life.

Stillbirth rates and perinatal death rates are based on the total of live and still births. Neonatal, postneonatal and infant death rates are based on live births only.

Also relevant is much of the material on topics which are covered in the General Background Information section on Vital Events because it applies to several types of event. For example, pages which are available from the general section provide information about the quality of the Vital Events data (including examples of the fluctuations in, and potential unreliability of, figures for small areas, short periods or sub-groups of the population), much of which is relevant to the statistics about the relatively small number of stillbirths in Scotland. 

All statistical publications