17 babies die every day in the UK from stillbirth or neonatal death.
Sands, stillbirth and neonatal death charity, today launches a national awareness and fundraising Campaign - Why 17?
Today 17 babies will die, the tragic victims of stillbirth or neonatal death, a statistic that is repeated every day across the UK.
'Nothing can prepare you for the shock of your baby dying - great expectation turned to despair within such a short period of time.'
This shocking figure, the loss of 6,500 babies every year, is something the public is not generally aware of. Most people think stillbirths don't happen in the 21st century. Yet stillbirth in the UK is 10 times more common than cot death.
Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, feels that this level of baby loss is totally unacceptable and is today launching its Why 17? Campaign to raise awareness of this devastating loss and to ask the question; 'Why are 17 babies a day dying and what can be done to halt this national tragedy?'
'I just want to raise awareness of stillbirth. I had no idea that this could happen to me. I can't believe people's ignorance and the isolation I've felt since my daughter died.'
Recently bereaved Mum.
So what are the facts as they stand now?
1 in 200 babies are stillborn in the UK
Stillbirths are 10 times the level of cot deaths in the UK
Rates of stillbirth have not fallen in the last 10 years, and even rose slightly in 2002/3
In this time rates of cot death have fallen dramatically
In half of all stillbirths the cause remains unexplained, although in more than half of these pregnancies the baby is smaller than it should be.
Many of these babies are born perfectly formed, with no clear reason why they died. We need to understand what is causing these deaths and take action to prevent avoidable losses.
The majority of unexplained stillbirths are in pregnancies that were previously considered low risk.
Neal Long, Director, Sands: 'For too long stillbirth and neonatal death has been treated as just one of those things but the numbers of babies dying has remained too high and unchanged for too long. Something can and must be done now.
'Through the Why 17? Campaign we hope to raise awareness of the issues surrounding baby loss and to initiate a public debate about stillbirth. We will be urging all those interested parties to join with us to develop a national strategy to reduce the rates of stillbirth.'
What Sands would like to see:
Increased public awareness of how many stillbirths there are in the UK.
Recognition that stillbirth is a national problem and is not just one of those things.
A national strategy to reduce the number of stillbirths in the UK
Funding for more research to improve understanding of why stillbirths happen and to identify high risk pregnancies and develop effective interventions.
The Why 17? Campaign, which will run for 17 months aims to raise £1.7 million to develop and support projects that will lead to changes in practice that could save babies lives and fund research into the causes and prevention of stillbirths and neonatal deaths.
Sands will also continue to facilitate the sharing of information about the latest research into stillbirth prevention. We work closely with leading research bodies in the UK and internationally, such as the Perinatal Institute in Birmingham and the International Stillbirth Alliance.
The number 17 will form the basis of the theme for the campaign and will feature in the many ways our supporters can get involved. Fundraising ideas range from simply setting up a regular £17 monthly donation to swimming 17 lengths, from holding a coffee morning on the 17th day of the month to running 17 miles.
Sands would like as many people as possible to support the Why 17? Campaign. To pledge your support please go to www.why17.org where you can pledge your support, donate online to help Sands reach the £1.7 million total, and find out how you can get involved.
Sands Patron, Matt Allwright, star of BBC's Rogue Traders is a key supporter of the Why 17? Campaign: 'This campaign is absolutely vital in raising awareness of stillbirth and neonatal death which devastates far too many families in the UK. Sands is urging the public to support their campaign and where they can pledge a donation. Any donations no matter how small will go towards funding research to try and prevent the loss of much loved and longed for babies.'
17 June 2008
Advice for Mums-to-be:
There is some basic advice that all mums-to-be can follow before and during their pregnancy, including:
Eat well and stay healthy.
Stop smoking, preferably before you are pregnant, but stopping at any time helps your baby's wellbeing. Partners should also stop smoking.
Avoid alcohol and drugs.
Avoid infections such as listeria and salmonella: you can get more information on this from your midwife.
Book early and go to all your antenatal appointments - regular monitoring can pick up early signs if your baby is not developing well.
Report any bleeding or abdominal pain immediately.
Be aware of your baby's movements. A reduction in movements can indicate something is not right, so if you notice a change in the pattern of your baby's movements that worries you call your midwife or maternity unit straight away.
Talk to your midwife about the risk factors for stillbirth: if you are at higher risk your pregnancy care should take that into account.
Causes of stillbirth:
For half of all stillbirths there is no clear direct cause. Within this group growth restriction is thought to be a significant factor.
Where a cause is specified the most common are:
Antepartum haemorrhage/placental problems
Pre-existing maternal medical conditions
Key Facts :
Every day in the UK 17 babies are stillborn or die within their first month of life, almost 6,500 babies dying every year.
1 in every 200 babies born in the UK is stillborn.
1 in every 300 babies born in the UK dies in the first four weeks of life.
In 2006, 10 babies were stillborn every day on average.
In 2006, on average every day 7 babies died who were aged less than 28 days.
Stillbirth rates in the UK have remained unchanged for 10 years. The stillbirth rate in 2006 was 5.3 per 1000 live births: the same rate as in 1997. (There was a temporary increase in the stillbirth rate in 2002/3. No clear cause has been identified for this rise.)
Stillbirth is when a baby is born dead after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy.
Neonatal death is when a baby is born alive but dies within the first 28 days of life.
Stillbirths are 10 times more common than cot deaths in the UK.
Read More in Our Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Section
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