A special Panorama programme will be aired on BBC1 which will look at the shockingly high level of stillbirths in the UK and what could be done to prevent some of them. Panorama’s reporter Paul Kenyon will meet the clinicians who say they could save hundreds of babies’ lives a year, with cheap and simple interventions that the medical establishment appears slow to accept.
Every year in the UK four thousand babies are stillborn, and we have one of the worst rates in the developed world. Stillbirth rates in the UK are around the same today as they were in the late 1990’s with one in every 200 births ending in stillbirth, and one in every 300 babies dying within the first 4 weeks of life.
A common misconception is that these deaths are unavoidable tragedies where something is irreversibly wrong with the baby. In fact, over 90% of babies who are stillborn have no congenital abnormality and around a third of stillbirths are unexplained and are perfectly formed, normal-sized babies. A further third are also perfectly formed but growth restricted. Unfortunately, in some cases, babies are stillborn due to negligence by hospital staff; many maternity units are so overstretched that they do not have enough midwives to cover the amount of births taking place on a daily basis. One in three stillbirths happens at or near term when babies could survive if they were delivered.
Ally Taft, Senior Associate at The Medical Accident Group said: “Stillbirth is one of the most horrendous things that parents will ever have to go through and it is shocking that the UK still has the worst rate of stillbirth in the developed world. Sadly, there are many cases caused as a result of substandard care during pregnancy or delivery. We understand the sensitive and emotional trauma that parents have gone through when they have had a stillborn baby, and that the focus is often on seeking answers and preventing other people going through the same. Many of these deaths could be prevented and may therefore give rise to potential clinical negligence claims.”
“Born Asleep”, a Panorama Special, will be broadcast on Monday 29th September 2014 at 8.30pm on BBC1.