Although the stillbirth and neonatal deaths rates overall are decreasing over time, the reduction in these rates between 2013 and 2016 is only around 6.5%.
The report was carried out by Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK (MBRRACE-UK), a collaboration led from the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford.
The analysis focused on rates of stillbirth and neonatal death across the UK for all babies born at 24 weeks of gestation or more. In 2016, there were 780,043 births, 3,065 stillbirths and 1,337 neonatal deaths.
The stillbirth rate was 3.93 per 1,000 total births, a fall from 4.20 per 1,000 total births in 2013. Over the same period, the rate of reduction in the neonatal death rate is similar to stillbirths at 6.5%: from 1.84 to 1.72 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Commenting on the findings, Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
“It is very reassuring that between 2014 and 2016 the stillbirth rate associated with twin pregnancy was reduced by 44% and rates of neonatal deaths related to twin pregnancy were reduced by just less than a third.
“While there has been a slow, but steady fall in the overall number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths over the last four years, rates are still higher in the UK than many other high-income countries. It is also disappointing that there has been little change in this rate over 2016 and that there continues to be a wide variation across the UK.
“The death of any baby is a tragedy and this latest report highlights that there is still so much more to be done to ensure the safest possible care for women and their babies. We welcome the recommendations made by this report. In collaboration with the Royal College of Midwives and other partners, the RCOG remains deeply committed to improving the quality of maternity care.”
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Each Baby Counts is the RCOG’s national quality improvement programme to reduce the number of babies who die or are left severely disabled as a result of incidents occurring during term labour. In the UK, each year over 1000 babies die or are left with severe brain injury – not because they are born too soon or too small, or have a congenital abnormality, but because something goes wrong during labour. The RCOG does not accept that all of these are unavoidable tragedies, and with the Each Baby Counts project we are committed to reducing this unnecessary suffering and loss of life by 50% by 2020. For more information, please visit the website.
The National Maternity and Perinatal Audit is a national clinical quality improvement programme that aims to improve maternity and neonatal services in Britain. The RCOG and RCM are joint collaborators, along with other leading organisations. For more information, visit the website.
About the RCOG
The RCOG is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision. Visit our website www.rcog.org.uk and follow us on Twitter @RCObsGyn.