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Hundreds of babies could be saved from stillbirth

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A report has recently revealed worrying statistics on the prevalence of stillbirths in the UK. More than 1000 babies without any congenital abnormality die before labour begins every year, one of the highest rates in Europe.

The report, commissioned by the NHS Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership, investigated the stillbirths of 85 babies and found that there were failures in care in half of cases. These include the failure to investigate when a woman had said that she was worried that the baby was no longer moving and the failure to respond correctly to the monitoring of the baby’s heart rate.

The results of the study are particularly disappointing as it appears that there has been little progress since a similar report 15 year ago. The charity, Sands, has pointed out that hundreds of deaths could have been prevented in this time if clinicians adhere to existing antenatal guidelines. 

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, has pledged to halve the number of stillbirths by 2030. Better antenatal care with help achieve this, but also improvements in the health of pregnant women as smoking during pregnancy and obesity are both factors which increase the likelihood of stillbirth.