Cheadle MP - why do 17 babies die every day in the UK

March 12, 2009 12:39 PM

Mark with the new report from Sands

Cheadle MP, Mark Hunter has supported the national launch of the 'Why 17? Campaign', which asks 'Why do 17 babies die every day in the UK?' fronted by Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death society.

The campaign is to raise awareness of the fact that every hour and a half in the UK a baby is stillborn or dies shortly after birth. Sands' new report, Saving Babies' Lives Report 2009, supported by new research, highlights several problem areas that are contributing to this level of baby loss. These include under-resourced maternity and neonatal services, a serious shortage of funding for research to understand and prevent stillbirths, a lack of understanding and awareness among both prospective parents and healthcare professionals of the extent and risk of stillbirth and neonatal death, and a failure of current antenatal screening techniques to identify 'at-risk' babies. The report also looks at the long-lasting impact of these deaths, and recommends changes that could save babies' lives.

Mr Hunter pledged his support for the Sands campaign, saying; "I was shocked to discover that there are 6,500 stillbirth and neonatal deaths every year in the UK, and that many families will have experienced the tragic loss of a baby in this way. We can no longer ignore this significant problem.

"The new Saving Babies' Lives Report clearly outlines the key issues, problem areas and recommendations for change. Government needs to look closely at this report and come up with a co-ordinated, national strategy to tackle stillbirths and neonatal deaths. We need real action now to make a difference so more lives can be saved in the future."

Sands' recommendations for change:

• Increased awareness of how many stillbirths and neonatal deaths there are in the UK.

• Recognition at the highest levels that these baby deaths are a national problem.

• Collaboration with other interested parties to create a national strategy to reduce the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths in the UK and to specifically look at the following:

o Properly valuing each and every baby's life.

o Changing antenatal care by developing a culture of continual risk assessment within maternity service provision in order to identify higher risk pregnancies.

o Recruiting and training more midwives to ensure the highest levels of care.

o Better overall resourcing of maternity services to provide a truly 24 hour, 7 days a week level of service and care.

o More funding for research. Sands believes that £6 million over the next 5 years could significantly reduce the number of babies dying.

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