Maternity units could prevent 600 stillbirths a year if new national guidance is adopted, says NHS England

Around 600 stillbirths a year could be prevented if maternity units across the country followed national best practice, NHS England has said.

The lives of more than 160 babies have been saved across 19 maternity units between 2016 to 2018.

In maternity units where the national guidance – known as the Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle – was implemented stillbirths fell by a fifth, a guidance evaluation by the University of Manchester due to be published on Monday said.

Should these findings be replicated across England as the guidance is rolled out nationally, it has the potential to prevent an estimated 600 stillbirths, NHS England said.

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The health service said reducing smoking in pregnancy, better monitoring of a baby’s growth and movement in pregnancy, and subsequently during labour, had contributed to the improved figures.

Dr Matthew Jolly, national clinical director for maternity and women’s health at NHS England, said the findings show “significant progress” in attempts to cut the number of stillbirths.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We still have more to do but these results demonstrate really positive progress towards our ambition to halve the rates of stillbirth, neonatal death and maternal death by 2025.”

The latest figures from NHS England show that of the 696,271 births in 2016 in England and Wales, 3,112 resulted in stillbirth.

Press Association

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