Worrying rise in baby deaths in Lancashire

More babies are dying within a month of being born in Lancashire, with data revealing the neonatal mortality rate is rising.
In Lancashire, 42 babies died within a month of being born in 2017In Lancashire, 42 babies died within a month of being born in 2017
In Lancashire, 42 babies died within a month of being born in 2017

Across England, both the neonatal and infant mortality rates worsened for the third year in a row, after decades of improvement, which baby charity Bliss said was “deeply concerning”.

In Lancashire, 42 babies died within a month of being born in 2017, compared with 36 the year previously, according to the latest Office for National Statistics figures.

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This means the neonatal mortality rate, a key indicator of infant care, increased from 2.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016 to 3.3 in 2017.

The infant mortality rate, measuring babies dying within a year of being born, has decreased.

In Lancashire, in 2017, there were 4.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 4.9 in 2016.

The ONS says the infant and neonatal mortality rates can fluctuate between years in local authorities due to the small number of deaths.

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Caroline Lee-Davey, chief executive of the premature and sick baby charity Bliss, said the national figures were “deeply concerning”, especially after the Government’s commitment to halve the rate of neonatal deaths by 2025.

“Bliss’s own research has shown repeatedly that there are insufficient nursing and medical staff to meet standards of safety and quality across neonatal services, with a clear link in particular between one-to-one nursing care for the smallest and sickest babies and neonatal survival,” she said.

“It is time for the Government to ensure neonatal units have the funding and resources they need in order to give every baby in the country the best chance of survival and quality of life.”

Lancashire has a lower infant and neonatal mortality rate than the North West overall.

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Across the North West, 397 babies died within 12 months of being born last year, of those 287 died within a month.

Ms Lee-Davey explained that “babies born into poorer families have a much higher mortality risk”.

“A number of factors can contribute to this higher risk of baby loss.

“The most important things for any expectant mother to do are to take care of her health while she is pregnant, to attend all her hospital appointments, and seek advice from health care professionals when needed.

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“However, we know that this can be more challenging for those living in the most disadvantaged communities.”

A Department of Health and Social Care Spokesperson said: "Every death of a child is a tragedy and we are committed to halving rates of stillbirths, neonatal deaths and brain injuries after birth by 2025.

"The NHS has made good progress to bring down infant mortality rates over the last decade. These figures show we need to go even further, so we are increasing midwifery training places by 25 per cent, and have invested millions of pounds in training for staff and in new safety equipment to ensure the NHS can provide world-class care for mothers and babies."