A report published on the 10th June 2015 by MBRRACE-UK – Perinatal Mortality Surveillance Report – shows that the rate and number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths in the UK fell in the 10 years to 2003. However, the UK mortality rate for babies of 7.3 per 1,000 births is high when compared with some of our European neighbours.
5,700 babies died before, during or shortly after birth in 2013. Fifteen families each day of that year were devastated by the death of their baby.
If the UK matched mortality rates achieved in, for instance, Sweden and Norway, the lives of 1,000 babies could be saved every year.
Group B Strep Support welcomes the recommendations that in all those organisations where the mortality rate is higher than the UK average, organisations should review the quality of care mum and baby received to understand whether the death might have been prevented. This will help by improving understanding and prevention of stillbirths and neonatal deaths.
Jane Plumb, the charity’s Chief Executive says,
“This Report is a wake-up call. The number of babies dying in this country is cause for serious concern as we lag woefully behind other countries.
“The Report highlights the urgent need to improve our health systems and equip our health professionals with proven tools to provide better maternity care.”
Jane says that much more can be done to save babies’ lives.
“Too many of these babies are dying from preventable infections. We want to see real national commitment to tackling these tragedies and preventing all avoidable baby deaths in the future. “
There are some simple interventions that can help stem the number of babies dying, in particular from group B Strep infections.
“It is clear that national guidelines on preventing group B Strep infections in newborn babies have failed. We urge the Department of Health to ensure that all pregnant women are informed about group B Strep and offered a group B Strep-specific test to detect group B Strep carriage so that unnecessary tragedies can be prevented. For some families, this would make all the difference in the world – we want lives families spared the desperate heartbreak of losing their precious baby from avoidable infection.”
Future reporting will build on this. By setting a high standard for information to be collected, MBRRACE-UK aims better to understand the causes, risks and inequalities which impact on the health and survival rates of babies, so that organisations can measure whether they are providing the right care.
The ultimate goal of the reporting is to support the NHS in improving the quality of services women and babies receive.
To read the full report, click here.
Jane Plumb, Chief Executive of Group B Strep Support, the UKs dedicated charity to preventing group B Strep infections in newborn babies, was a Writing Group member