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UK stillbirth rate falls, but 'still much more to do'

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The government wants the stillbirth rate halved The government wants the stillbirth rate halved by 2030

The stillbirth rate in the UK fell by almost 8% from 2013 to 2015, according to a report from MBRRACE-UK.

MBRRACE-UK (Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK) was commissioned in 2012 to help the government achieve its ambition to halve the rates of stillbirth and neonatal death in England by 2030.

Mandy Forrester, head of quality and standards at the Royal College of Midwives, said: ‘This is a welcome reduction and things are moving in the right direction but there is still much more to do if we are going to match the lower stillbirth rates of other European countries.’

The report showed that some parts of the country have poorer results than others, something Ms Forrester attributed to the socio-economic wellbeing of communities.

‘We know inequality is linked to higher stillbirth rates and poorer outcomes for the baby. It may also be in the quality of local services and this needs investigation,’ she said.

The RCM highlighted other areas in need of support if further reductions in stillbirths are to be achieved. These included ultrasound scanning as needed, glucose tolerance tests and parental education.

‘There is also a pressing need for greater efforts around support for smoking cessation for the woman and others in the household who smoke,’ Ms Forrester said. ‘Tackling and reducing smoking in pregnancy will be critical in any efforts to reduce stillbirths. Cuts to public health budgets are making it increasingly difficult for women to access these type of services.’

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