Hertfordshire stillbirth rate below national average

PUBLISHED: 16:01 19 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:21 19 June 2019

A newborn baby right after delivery.

A newborn baby right after delivery.

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The rate of stillbirths across Hertfordshire is below the national average in the UK, according to national statistics.

The Office for National Statistics released numbers on Monday showing that the rate of stillbirths in Hertfordshire increased by less than 0.1 per cent.

The county moved from 3.5 per cent in 2016 to 3.6 per cent in 2017 per 1,000 live births.

This is line with the national trend in England and Wales that saw 3.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016 move to 3.9 deaths in 2017.

Some of this increase in infant mortality rates, which has been reducing since the 1980s, is "subject to random fluctuations," Vasita Patel, from the Vital Statistics Outputs Branch at ONS, says.

But it should be noted that due to live births and infant deaths, both in real number decreasing, the proportion of rates actually went up in England and Wales in 2017.

Herts still remains with significantly smaller rates than the national average but this does fluctuate between areas like Stevenage with high rates and Welwyn Hatfield with lower rates due to the proximity of maternity hospital care.

NHS East and North Hertfordshire Care Commissioning Group, told this website it wants to raise awareness of stillbirths.

"All stillbirths are devastating and although numbers in our area remain lower than the national average, we want to raise awareness of the things that parents-to-be can do to reduce their risks," a spokesperson for the CCG said.

"We are working with partners across the health system in Hertfordshire and west Essex to reduce the rate of stillbirths.

"This is part of the NHS England five year forward view for maternity care."

"Although it is not possible to prevent every stillbirth, and we don't always know what causes a stillbirth, there are simple things that parents-to-be can do to reduce their risks."

Leading baby loss charities Sands, Tommy's, Bliss, and Tamb are calling for the Government to go further in tackling the issue so the UK can meet its 2025 ambition to halve the rate of stillbirth and babies dying shortly after birth.

"The lack of progress with neonatal deaths in the last two years is particularly concerning," Jane Brewin, Chief Executive at Tommy's said.

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"It is no good reducing stillbirths if more babies are instead dying soon after birth."

The NHS East and North Hertfordshire Care Commissioning Group spokesperson have given this advice to pregnant women:

"No smoking and avoid alcohol and drugs, while keeping up with antenatal appointments.

"Get used to the amount of movements you feel.

"From 16 to 24 weeks you should feel your baby move more and more up until 32 weeks, then stay at that rate until you give birth.

"Report any tummy pain or a reduction in your baby's movements to your midwife straight away."

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust has advised patients to keep in contact with their care services:

"Women who have experienced baby loss from 12 weeks' pregnancy onwards receive continuous care and support from our dedicated bereavement midwife.

"The midwife keeps in close contact, referring women to counselling support services in the trust, helping the family to make memories, and providing follow up support.

"This support is for the whole family unit, including help for fathers and siblings, and is tailored to suit each patient's specific needs.

"We also work closely with two charities - Sands and 4Louis - who can offer further support to families."

SANDS (stillbirth and neonatal death charity) runs an awareness month, during June, to highlight that around 15 babies die before, during or soon after a birth every day in the UK.

Support meetings take place regularly in North Herts, East Herts and West Herts and more advice locally can be found by checking out their websites.

There is also a helpline available free by phone and email: 0808 164 3332 / helpline@sands.org.uk.

For more on the causes of stillbirths and miscarriage, please see the NHS website: nhs.uk/conditions/stillbirth/causes/

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