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Plan To Reduce Stillbirths Announced

Each Baby Counts Aims To Halve The Number Of UK Stillbirths By 2020


Each Baby Counts, a new initiative from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), has been launched today (Thursday October 23rd) in a bid to reduce the number of stillbirths in the UK.

The campaign takes the form of a five-year plan, with its main aim being to halve how many babies die before or during birth by 2020.

Currently, approximately 4,000 stillbirths occur in the UK each year, according to figures from the RCOG. In addition, around 40,000 women are admitted to hospital due to miscarriage complications every year, while 500 babies die due to problems during labour.

These could include the infant being starved of oxygen - which can result in brain damage and conditions such as cerebral palsy if the baby survives - but other factors can also contribute towards a stillbirth. For example, if an expectant mother smokes, her risk of miscarrying can increase significantly.

Data shows that smoking in pregnancy accounts for around 2,200 premature births and 5,000 miscarriages annually in Britain.

To help to significantly lower these figures, the RCOG is intending to collect and analyse data from hospitals throughout the country to see where and how these stillbirths are occurring. This information will then be used to determine where improvements can be made to maternal care, therefore potentially reducing the number of stillbirths.

Co-principal investigator for Each Baby Counts Professor Zarko Alfirevic explained that local investigations into such events are commonplace, but nationwide analysis could help to improve care standards and save the lives of more babies each year.

Vice-president for clinical quality at the RCOG Professor Alan Cameron added: "Stillbirth, neonatal death or the birth of baby at full-term but with brain injuries are life-changing and tragic events, which often affect women and their families for many years.

"At the RCOG, we do not accept that all of these are unavoidable tragedies and have committed to reducing this unnecessary suffering and loss of life by 50 per cent by 2020."

Expert Opinion

The number of stillbirths in the UK is extremely worrying and it is important the reduction of these deaths remains a top priority for the NHS, which means ensuring vulnerable patients, such as pregnant women and their babies, are able to access the best possible care and support.

“Campaigns such as this and further research into new techniques and technologies proposed to improve the treatment pregnant women receive are vital. The widespread collection and analysis of data will help medical professionals gain a better understanding of the issues that can affect pregnant women and their babies and implement steps to prevent these problems having a devastating impact on those involved.

“In our work we have represented a number of devastated families who have lost a baby at birth and it is vital everything possible is done to prevent more parents going through the same experience in the future.”
Julianne Moore, Partner

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