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RCOG statement on Lancet series on neonatal deaths and stillbirths

News 20 May 2014

A new Lancet series of five papers looks at the progress to date and the challenges in improving newborn survival around the world, and sets targets that must be achieved by 2030 in order to ensure every newborn has a healthy start.

The research has been conducted by a collaboration of more than 54 experts from 28 institutions in 17 countries, and provides the foundation for the forthcoming Every Newborn Action Plan, an evidence-based roadmap towards care for every woman, and a healthy start for every newborn baby, which will be launched in June 2014.

The Every Newborn Series shows that almost all of the 5.5 million newborn and stillborn babies who die every year are not registered or officially recognised. The authors conclude that this lack of registration is a key reason for slower progress in recent decades for newborn deaths compared to maternal and child mortality reduction.

Professor Alan Cameron, Vice President for Clinical Quality at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said:

“The causes of neonatal death and stillbirth globally are multifactorial and also include social factors such as education, sanitation, improved nutrition and political will. However, access to healthcare is of extreme importance and while maternal mortality rates have been improving across the globe, more needs to be done to improve the lives of newborns.

“Better systems are urgently needed to record these deaths and once these are in place, measures can be taken to reduce these high figures.

“In the UK stillbirth rates are still high and as a College we are committed to addressing this. We plan to start a project particularly studying term intrapartum deaths, early neonatal deaths in term infants and we will also examine the circumstances of those babies who subsequently develop long term problems such as cerebral palsy. The aim of this project is to study potential lessons to be learned surrounding the management of labour and delivery of these babies and ultimately aim to reduce these events.

“Any death of a baby is a tragedy and there needs to be more investment and research into preventing these often avoidable deaths.”