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UKs stillbirth rate fell last year

Thursday 19th October 2017
The UKs stillbirth rate for 2016 fell to 4.4 in every 1,000 births, according to new ONS data. Image: AnnaElizabethPhotography via iStock
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    Last year, the UK's stillbirth rate fell to its lowest level in 24 years, new figures show.

    Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the UK's stillbirth rate stood at 4.4 in every 1,000 births in 2016, the lowest it has been since 1992 when it came in at 4.3 in 1,000 births.

    Meanwhile, the number of babies being born with a low birth weight has remained unchanged since 2011, accounting for seven per cent of all live births.

    This may suggest that specialist nurses and midwives need to work together to try to find a way to lower this percentage to ensure more babies are born at a healthy weight.

    A total of 696,271 babies were born over the course of the year, which means some 48,490 were born weighing less than 2.5 kilograms.

    Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, commented: "The reduction in stillbirths is very welcome and shows that we are making progress. However, we need to do even better.

    "Reducing smoking in pregnancy and levels of obesity, among other things, will contribute towards reducing stillbirths, so more investment is needed in these areas."

    These are both issues that nurses and midwives can help to support new and expectant mothers with, advising them on how to stop smoking and how to adopt healthier lifestyle habits to bring their weight down in a safe and healthy manner.

    Ms Silverton also called for greater support for women who want to give birth in their own homes. The proportion of women having home births came in at 2.1 per cent last year, down from 2.3 per cent in 2015.

    She said that it was "not good enough" that resource and staff shortages often prevented women from having this choice.

    "We need to ensure that those women who choose a home birth get the birth that they want," Ms Silverton stated.

    Written by James Puckle

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