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Is your baby at a higher risk of dying if it is born on a weekend?

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Babies born in hospitals in England at the weekends are more at risk of dying than those born on weekdays according to a recent study which has been completed by Imperial College London.

The study, which looked into the association between day of delivery and measures of quality and safety of maternity services, considered data of more than 1.3 million births and found that there was a 7% increase in risk of death for babies delivered at weekends. The study ensured that it took into consideration varying factors, such as the fact that more babies are born on a Thursday.

The study also found that the rate of injury to the baby during birth was slightly higher across those delivered on Saturdays and Sundays and that mums admitted at the weekend had slightly higher rates of infections.

The study provided an evaluation of what is known as the weekend effect, however found no direct link between the rate of deaths and staffing levels

This isn’t the first time that the question of the quality of care being provided by the NHS at the weekend has been called into question. Jeremy Hunt is at the forefront of trying to increase consultant presence at the weekends and to make the NHS a “more human 7 day service”. The study was however clear that it had looked into the link between consultant level and death and complication rates and did not find any association.

The NHS are to commission a wider independent review of NHS maternity services in the hope to asses how best to deal with the increasing birth rate and the results of this study.

By Victoria Jordan, clinical negligence team

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