Is the NHS failing to prevent Stillbirths?
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- Few hospitals have plans to cut the stillbirth rate (apparently, amongst the highest in the developed world);
- The use of tape measures to screen most low risk women is felt to be extraordinary in the 21st Century;
- Guidelines on measuring unborn babies routinely ignored even though these could save 800 lives a year;
- No clear guidance given to women about what to look for re baby movements and hospitals unsure what to do when women present with concerns;
- The exact number of deaths since 2009 is unknown due to delays providing data;
- Patchy death investigations mean doctors often think that deaths could not have been prevented.
The report states that many problems are related to the placenta. Babies that do not grow well in the uterus are felt to be ten times more likely to be stillborn. Earlier identification of these babies could save their lives. Simple, consistent measuring at antenatal appointments with clear documentation could identify babies that are falling behind. Plans could then be put in place to monitor regularly or deliver earlier.
I am pleased that the government is taking this matter more seriously. It appears that simple measures can be taken to lower the stillbirth rate and prevent the pain and suffering that many bereaved parents have to go through, without really knowing why their baby died.
Associate - Clinical Negligence team
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