Naomi Long pictured at Wednesday’s event, pledged his support for the Sands campaign, said: “I was shocked to discover the scale of baby deaths in the UK. 17 babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth every day, with stillbirth being the largest contributor to child deaths under the age of five years. These deaths have a devastating impact on parents and their families, and I fully support Sands in their call for urgent action to prevent baby deaths in the future.”
The Report highlights that advances in neonatal medicine have led to small but welcome reductions in the number of newborn babies dying, however, Sands remains extremely concerned by the UK’s persistently high stillbirth rates; stillbirth numbers in the UK are the same today as they were in the late 1990s, with 1 in 200 babies being stillborn. The UK has one of the highest stillbirth rates when compared to similar high income countries, yet Sands strongly believes that with the appropriate commitment and investment in research and improved care, a reduction in these rates is achievable and should be a key focus for all those concerned with maternity services.
Neal Long, Chief Executive of Sands, addressed MPs at the parliamentary reception, “A third of stillborn babies – around 1,200 babies – are perfectly formed and born at gestations when they might safely be delivered. But routine antenatal care is failing to detect far too many babies who need help. These babies’ deaths are those that Sands, researchers and clinicians working in obstetrics, believe are avoidable deaths.
“We want to see real national commitment to tackling this ignored tragedy and preventing all avoidable baby deaths in the future. We want lives saved and families spared the desperate heartbreak of losing their precious baby.”
What are the facts today?
· 17 babies die every day in the UK, 11 are stillborn and another 6 die shortly after birth – this equates to 6,500 babies dying every year
· Stillbirth is not a rare event; 1 in 200 babies are stillborn (die in the womb after 24 weeks gestation) and a third of these deaths happen at full term, (after 37 weeks gestation), at an age when a baby is preparing to start life outside the womb. If these babies can be identified, then early delivery could save many of these babies’ lives
· Babies who die within the first four weeks of life (neonatal deaths) are also not rare, 1 in 300 babies die before they are a month old
· UK rates of stillbirth are the same today as in the late 1990s, in the same period infant mortality rates have fallen to their lowest ever rate
· While there is proper focus and concern about preventing child deaths caused by, for example meningitis (around 50 deaths per year); road deaths (81 in 2009); or cot deaths (400 per year), the 4,000 stillbirths each year are more or less ignored
· The Lancet medical journal’s 2011 Stillbirth Series, showed the UK to be among the poorest performing countries when it comes to tackling stillbirth, placing us 33rd out of 35 similar high income countries.
Sands Preventing Babies’ Deaths Report outlines the key issues contributing to baby deaths in the UK and the action we believe is needed to prevent deaths in the future. Read the full report at www.uk-sands.org