Bristol Lawyer Calls For Urgent Action To Reduce 'Appalling' Number Of Stillbirths In The UK

Stillbirths and Serious Birth Traumas

11.04.2010

Bristol Lawyer Calls For Urgent Action To Reduce 'Appalling' Number Of Stillbirths In The UK

A Bristol medical law expert is calling on the Government to take urgent action to reduce the number of stillbirths in the UK as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the problems caused by birth trauma.

Julie Lewis, a medical law solicitor with Irwin Mitchell's Bristol office, says more needs to be done to reduce the number of stillbirths and serious birth traumas amongst women in this country.

Every year in the UK nearly 4,000 babies are stillborn and an official enquiry by CESDI, the Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy, concluded that nearly half of all unexplained stillbirths might have been avoided with better antenatal care.

In the South West region latest figures compiled by NHS South West reveal a rate of 4.4 deaths per 1,000 total births compared to a national rate of 5.5 per 1,000. Despite this, the NHS has vowed that stillbirths remain an area for action in the region.

Julie commented: "Although the South West has a lower than average rate of stillbirths in the UK there is certainly no room for complacency.  Compared with many other Western European countries, the UK still has a very poor record of stillbirths.

"These figures are appalling and behind each of these statistics lies a personal tragedy, of grieving parents who have suffered the unimaginable heartache of losing a newborn child. We are calling on the Government to take urgent action and make the reduction of stillbirths a priority."

Julie will be speaking to maternity and obstetric experts at a conference co-hosted by national charity the Birth Trauma Association (BTA), and Irwin Mitchell Solicitors. The sell-out event on Thursday May 13th, has attracted medical and health professional delegates from throughout the UK.

Julie continued: "We are also calling on the Government to conduct urgent research to help reduce stillbirths. Several years ago similar UK research was carried out into the incidence and causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and as a result the number of SIDS cases reduced dramatically.

"We believe similar action should be taken to reduce stillbirths, which remain shamefully high in this country and cause unimaginable heartache for so many couples."

Deborah Linster Ali, who runs one of BTA's regional help-lines, suffered the tragedy of stillbirth with the loss of her son, Jacob, in 2004.

 She explained: "People really don't appreciate the impact that birth trauma can have, not just on the individuals themselves, but also their friends and family. Sometimes the partners or siblings of birth trauma victims may find that they receive less attention as so much time is spent caring for the victim.

"After the birth of Jacob I felt incredibly isolated. Becoming involved with the BTA has really helped me talk through a lot of my feelings. The great thing about the charity is that it is run by parents for other parents who have suffered or witnessed traumatic births, so there is always someone to talk to who knows, first hand, the kind of emotions you are experiencing.

"Now, being directly involved with the work of the BTA, means I can give something back, not only to the charity, but also to other parents who need help and support."

Both Julie Lewis and Deborah Linster Ali will be speaking at the BTA Conference on Thursday 13th April, which has as its theme:  "Reducing Stillbirth and dealing with the Aftermath."