Leicester leads report into stillbirth and neonatal death rates in the UK

A research team led from the University of Leicester has identified large differences across the UK in the numbers and rates of babies who die, even after taking account of known factors that influence the rate of death such as poverty, mother’s age and ethnicity.

A new report by MBRRACE-UK, a team of academics, clinicians and charity representatives (commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership as part of the Maternal, Newborn and Infant Clinical Outcome Review Programme), has looked behind these figures to try and identify how the situation might be improved. This work adopts a new approach to the analysis of data concerning stillbirths and neonatal deaths for the UK in 2013 including the reporting of extended perinatal mortality rates (stillbirths + neonatal deaths= extended perinatal mortality).

Key findings from the report show significant variation across the UK with the extended perinatal mortality rate ranging from 5.4 to 7.1 per 1,000 total births for organisations responsible for commissioning care and similarly for organisations responsible for organising the delivery of care, even after allowing for factors such as poverty, mother’s age and ethnicity.

Professor Elizabeth Draper, Professor of Perinatal and Paediatric Epidemiology in our Department of Health Sciences, said:  “This report confirms that the UK performs poorly compared to other European countries of similar economic status particularly Sweden and Norway. We recommend that NHS organisations across the UK and the relevant Royal Colleges establish national aspirational targets for stillbirth, neonatal deaths and extended perinatal deaths. This will enable all services to be assessed against this benchmark in the future in order to work towards achieving similar rates to those of the current best performing countries in Europe.”