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 currently have no effective treatments to help babies who are growing too slowly in the womb. Our researchers are studying the effects of tiny particles found in fruit and vegetables on the placenta. This could provide a safe treatment to help ensure babies grow normally, preventing stillbirth.
Pre-eclampsia can lead to health problems and sometimes stillbirth, but we don’t know enough about what causes it. Our researchers are studying how the lining of the womb develops during early pregnancy. This could reveal new ways to prevent pre-eclampsia and reduce the risk of stillbirth.
Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy may trigger long-term post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression
The largest ever study into the psychological impact of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy has shown that early-stage pregnancy loss can have a serious on impact mental health. The research was led by Professor Tom Bourne at the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Imperial College London.
A pilot trial led by Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research suggests diabetes drug could be repurposed to target the lining of the womb in women with recurrent miscarriage.
More than a third of maternity doctors admitted they suffer from burnout and exhaustion. This means that they may avoid difficult cases, over-prescribe medications and care less about their patients, increasing the risk of mistakes.
Abdominal stitch is more effective than vaginal stitch for women who experience recurrent preterm births
A clinical trial has shown that an abdominal stitch can save babies’ lives by reducing preterm birth for high-risk women who have had a previous failed vaginal stitch. The trial was led and co-authored by Professor Andrew Shennan, Clinical Director of Tommy’s Preterm Surveillance Clinic.