Today MBRRACE-UK publish the Perinatal Mortality Surveillance Report, examining the number of perinatal deaths in 2013, as a continuation of the national surveillance programme of perinatal mortality established in the early 1990s.
There were 4,722 extended perinatal deaths (3,286 stillbirths and 1,436 neonatal deaths) occurring in the UK to babies born at 24 weeks gestational age or greater in 2013, this is the equivalent of 6 per 1000 births.
The report also found significant variation of perinatal mortality rates across the UK and particular areas have been identified where more detailed local review of stillbirth and neonatal death rates is required.
Additionally, the report found that pregnancies to women living in socially deprived areas are over 50% more likely to end in stillbirth or neonatal death. Babies of Black or Black British and Asian or Asian British ethnicity have a doubled risk of perinatal mortality.
The reporting of data was also inconsistent and there were systematic differences in how clinicians certify the death of babies born between 22 and up to 24 weeks gestation.
The report makes several recommendations including:
- Local reviews in organisations where perinatal mortality rates are up to 10% and more than 10% higher than the UK average
- Establishment of national aspirational targets of stillbirth, neonatal deaths and extended perinatal deaths
- Offering post-mortems in all cases of stillbirth and neonatal loss in order to improve future pregnancy counselling of parents
- Improved data reporting in NHS Trusts and Health Boards
Commenting on the report, Professor Alan Cameron, RCOG Vice President for Clinical Quality said:
“The findings of the report show an overall improvement in the rates of stillbirth and neonatal deaths in the context of the increasing medical complexity of the maternal population. However, it is clear that we still face a challenge of further reducing the number of perinatal deaths, as well as addressing the existing variation of perinatal mortality rates across the UK.
“We fully support the report’s recommendations, both investment in data provision and monitoring as well as setting national aspirational targets are vital and we will continue to work closely with MBRRACE-UK and other colleagues to make the UK one of the safest places to be born.
“Our Each Baby Counts project is a five-year quality improvement initiative which aims to reduce by 50% the number of stillbirths, early neonatal deaths and brain injuries occurring in the UK as a result of incidents during term labour by 2020. We are currently collecting the data from the results of local investigations to gain a national picture and develop actions to prevent these tragedies from recurring.
“We are deeply committed to ensuring that every mother receives the best quality care available and avoidable deaths are prevented.”
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