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Infant Mortality

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 58466, tabled on 18 October 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to tackle stillborn and neonatal deaths for babies from (a) minority ethnic and (b) other backgrounds.

Answered on

10 November 2021

To support National Health Service (NHS) maternity services reduce stillbirth and neonatal death rates for babies from minority ethnic and other backgrounds, NHS England and NHS Improvement published ‘Equity and Equality: Guidance for Local Maternity Systems’. This guidance asks Local Maternity Systems (LMS) to produce an equity and equality analysis, covering health outcomes, community assets and staff experience, by 30 November 2021 and to co-produce an equity and equality action plan by 28 February 2022. The guidance can be found at the following link:

LMS are being asked to include four evidence-based interventions that have been demonstrated to reduce the risk of stillbirths and neonatal deaths in their action plans;

  • targeted and enhanced Continuity of Carer with 75% of women from Black, Asian and Mixed ethnic groups receiving Continuity of Carer by 2024 and additional midwifery time to support women from the most deprived areas. Women who receive Continuity of Carer are 16% less likely to lose their baby;
  • smoke-free pregnancy pathways for mothers and their partners, reducing the risk of stillbirth, preterm birth and infant death;
  • strategies to improve breastfeeding rates for women living in the most deprived areas to reduce babies’ risk of infections, diarrhea and vomiting, and sudden infant death syndrome;
  • culturally-sensitive genetics services for consanguineous couples where appropriate to reduce unexpected affected births (congenital abnormality, infant and child mortality, and serious illness).

NHS England and NHS Improvement are providing £6.8m to support LMS to implement their Equity and Equality Action Plans.