Targets set to cut number of stillbirths by half in five years

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A new five-year project has been launched by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) with the aim to halve the number of stillbirths, brain injuries and early neonatal deaths which occur in the UK due to incidents during term labour.

Approximately 500 babies are left severely disabled or die each year because there is a problem during labour, like not having access to sufficient oxygen.

The RCOG has offered a commitment to halve the number of incidents by 2020. As from January 2015, the ‘Each Baby Counts’ project, part-funded by the Department of Health, will start the collection and analysis of data from all UK units in a bid to identify the lessons learned so that it can be improved upon in future.

The vice president for clinical quality at the RCOG, Professor Alan Cameron, said neonatal death, stillbirth and the birth of a baby at full term, but with brain injuries are tragic, life-changing events which could affect the mother and their families for many years. He said that the RCOG does not accept that all of these events are unavoidable and have made a commitment to reduce the unnecessary loss of life and suffering by 50% by 2020.

He said that their task will be to collect data from all units in the UK in a bid to identify avoidable issues in the relevant cases. They will monitor where the incidents occur and the reason for it. He added that sharing of the sensitive data will offer a unique opportunity to improve the care provided and potentially save many lives.

The co-principal investigator for the Each Baby Counts project, Professor Zarko Alfirevic, said presently the events are investigated on a local level, however the lessons learned from the local reviews are not being shared and this results in the loss of opportunities to improve care nationally.

He said the Each Baby Counts project is one of the most exciting and ambitious projects in women’s health currently being undertaken in the UK. Its goal poses a huge challenge, but the team remain confident that they will succeed.

Image Credit: kristin klein

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