Stillbirths falling24th June 2009
The proportion of babies being stillborn has fallen for the first time since the year 2000.
A report from the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (Cemach) show that England, Wales and Northern Ireland are now seeing fewer babies born dead, though in Scotland the figure still remains higher than the rest of the UK.
The findings revealed that older mothers have the highest risk of having a stillborn infant, while the babies of teenagers were the most likely to die in the first few weeks.
In 2000, the stillbirth rate was 5.4 per 1,000 births but that rose to 5.7 before falling to 5.2 in 2007, though still equating to 4,000 babies stillborn every year. The stillbirth rate in multiple births has fallen16.7 per 1,000 births in 2000 to 12.2 in 2007. The neonatal mortality rate has also improved.
Cemach say the reason for the numbers of stillbirths was unclear but links with age and social deprivation have been suggested.
Ethnicity also seems to be an issue with stillbirth rates for women of black and Asian ethnicity 2.7 times and two times higher respectively than that of white women.
It also emerged that while post mortems may have been able to clarify why babies died, more parents were refusing the procedure.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president, Professor Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, said professionals needed to remain vigilant over the common maternal risk factors and identify women who may require extra support.
Health Minister Ann Keen said the government would work with the NHS to reduce rates further.
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