Tommy’s news, 17/06/2019
Leading baby loss charities Tommy's, Bliss, SANDS and Twins Trust are jointly calling on the Government to redouble efforts to meet their ambition to halve the rate of stillbirth and babies dying shortly after birth by 2025.
Figures for England published today highlight that while the rate of stillbirths is reducing, there is still a long way to go to meet the Government’s ambition to reduce this by 50% by 2025. The rate of babies dying shortly after birth has plateaued.
Tommy's Chief Executive, Jane Brewin, commented:
'The fall in the number of stillbirths in recent years is welcome but we need renewed momentum and new prevention strategies to bring rates down considerably further, if we are to stay on track to meet the government’s ambition to halve these deaths by 2025. The lack of progress with neonatal deaths in the last two years is particularly concerning. It is no good reducing stillbirths if more babies are instead dying soon after birth.'
Keith Reed, CEO of Twins Trust, said:
'Although these figures do not break down specifically for multiples, the small fall in stillbirth of 0.02% means it remains unclear as to whether the Government will meet its target of halving stillbirths by 50% by 2025. The neonatal death rate has gone up very slightly, but this is a worrying trend and taken together the results show a mixed picture which creates uncertainty. Through our Maternity Unit Engagement Project we remain committed to improving maternity care, reducing neonatal admission and lowering stillbirths for families with twins, triplets or more.'
How Tommy's is changing this
Tommy’s is the largest UK charity funding research to prevent stillbirth. We carry out vital research to find out why stillbirths happen, and how we can prevent them. Rates of stillbirth are falling – but not fast enough. Our research is helping us understand the causes of stillbirth, so we can find the babies at risk in time to help them.
Our stilbirth research focuses on three main areas:
- Understanding the causes of stillbirth
- Treatment and prevention of stillbirth
- Improving care for women at risk of, and following, a stillbirth
We are already making strides towards our goals.
- In St. Mary’s Hospital, we lowered the average number of stillbirths by 19% from 2012 to 2017. This is equivalent to 12 fewer babies dying every year.
- We have reduced the proportion of unexplained stillbirths in the Greater Manchester area from 28% in 2014 to 16% in 2016.
- In Edinburgh, obese women attending our antenatal clinic were an astounding 8 times less likely to have a stillbirth than women receiving standard care.
- We are rolling out the excellent care that women get in a pregnancy after a stillbirth at our rainbow clinic to 5 new sites.
We don’t know enough how some pregnancy complications can lead to stillbirth. Our researchers are developing new ways to assess the fetal heartbeat to spot babies in distress. This could enable doctors to intervene early and prevent stillbirth.
Our researchers are developing a new way to study the heartbeats of unborn babies. This could help doctors spot babies in distress so they can act early to prevent stillbirth.
Tommy’s has received a grant from the UK Government’s Department for Health and Social Care to support the costs of its PregnancyHub information and support services throughout the summer, due to rising demand in the wake of coronavirus.
Although recruitment to some clinical trials had to be paused when coronavirus hit the UK, scientists at Tommy’s Research Centres across the UK are still hard at work, supporting women and families in our specialist clinics and sharing their latest studies with academic journals.
The day before Mother’s Day, and two days before the UK officially went into coronavirus lockdown, Zara Dawson found out she was having a miscarriage. Her third consecutive miscarriage in less than a year, and fourth consecutive loss, after losing her second son Jesse in 2018 to termination for medical reasons.
As research shows half of UK mums are experiencing mental health problems in coronavirus lockdown, we've joined forces with Elvie on #TheBigSqueeze campaign to help Tommy's midwives continue to provide their vital support virtually during the pandemic.