RCPCH responds to new report on still birth and neonatal deaths

RCPCH President Russell Viner respond to today's report by MBRRACE-UK, which aims to analyse data and evaluate improvements in healthcare for mothers and babies.

The research found that there were 780,043 births in the United Kingdom in 2016. In this year, there were 3,065 stillbirths and 1,337 neonatal deaths. This shows a reduction in mortality rates from 2013, although there is still regional variation. Survival rates for twins, in particular, has been shown to have improved.

MBRRACE-UK note that post-mortem examination continues to vary between stillbirths and neonatal deaths.

Responding to the MBRRACE-UK report, Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

“Although small, overall there has been a reduction in mortality rates between 2013-16, but as a country which has some of the worst mortality rates in Western Europe, it’s clear that much more has to be done.

"The report authors are right, there is no single solution to reduce the number of babies dying but what we do know is that babies born to families living in areas of high deprivation or to mothers who have poor maternal health, are those most at risk. Stop smoking and substance misuse support must be offered to those high risk groups and so too should services that promote breastfeeding and good nutrition before, during and after pregnancy. Health visitors are essential in delivering this care. But budget cuts have disproportionately affected public health funding for children’s services which means that the health visiting service is stretched to deliver checks to all families, let alone those most in need who require specific support.

"We need Government to show it is serious about protecting maternal and child health by ensuring universal early years public health services are prioritised and supported financially, with targeted help for families experiencing poverty.”