Date published: March 1, 2012
Nearly 20 babies a day are stillborn, or die within hours or days of birth each day, but according to the charity Sands, up to 1 200 stillbirths a year could be avoided.
Chief Executive of Sands, Neal Long, who launched a report entitled Preventing Babies Deaths: What Needs to be Done said:
'The scale of babies' deaths in the UK is shocking. A third of stillborn babies - around 1 200 - are born late in pregnancy (post-37 weeks) at gestations when they might be safely delivered. But routine antenatal care is failing to detect far too many babies who need help.'
In 2012, 4 100 babies were stillborn and 1 850 died in the first few days or hours of life. The report shows that urgent action is needed to tackle the high rate, which is one of the worst in the developed world, on a par with Belarus and Estonia.
Common factors that can contribute to stillbirth include maternal medical problems, infections and birth complications, and congenital malformations.
Risk factors for women include being an older mum, being overweight, smoking and drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, multiple pregnancies and social deprivation.
The report also said that possible causes of stillbirth could be to do with the placenta.
The report states: 'Problems with the placenta are poorly understood and require urgent research - until there is a way to test whether a placenta is functioning well, all women and their babies are potentially at risk.
It is thought that a test for checking the function of the placenta could help doctors to decide whether or not to deliver the baby earlier than 37 weeks.
Neal Long added: 'Routine antenatal care is failing to detect far too many babies who need help.