Stillbirth are more common than you think in the UK more than 3,600 every year, one in every 200 births end in a stillbirth and around 1,200 babies pass away after a full term pregnancy (37 weeks or more).
Its scary to think that 15 babies are born sleeping every day in the UK alone which makes it 15 times more common that cot death.
A stillbirth is a baby born sleeping after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy, If the baby passes away before 24 completed weeks, it’s known as a miscarriage or late foetal loss.
Around a half of all stillbirths are linked to placental complications. This means that for some reason the placenta (the organ that links the baby’s blood supply to the mother’s and nourishes the baby in the womb) isn’t functioning properly.
About 10% of stillborn babies have some kind of birth defect that contributed to their death. A small percentage of stillbirths are caused by problems with the mother’s health, for example pre-eclampsia, or other problems, including cord accidents and infections.
Sands is the stillbirth and neonatal death charity. Who operate throughout the UK, supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby, working to improve the care bereaved parents receive, and promoting research to reduce the loss of babies’ lives.
The facts about baby deaths in 2017
- 15 babies die every day in the UK either before, during or shortly after birth.
- Every day 4 babies die around their due date. Many of these lives could be saved with improvements both to care and to our understanding of why babies die and how to protect them.
- Every year around 900 babies die or have a severe brain injury as a result of something that goes wrong during labour and birth around their due date. The majority of these tragedies could be avoided.
- Families are too often sent home with poor explanations about their baby’s death. If hospitals don’t adequately investigate what happened, how can lessons be learned? Yet research shows that there is no local review of care for three-quarters of stillbirths at the end of pregnancy, and even where reviews had been carried out few follow national guidance or involve parents. How can hospitals fulfil their legal Duty of Candour to be honest and clear about care that should have been better if they have not examined what happened?
- One in 150 births ends in the death of a baby. With better information, women can be empowered to help minimise the risks and make the right choices for them about their pregnancy.
- One in 5 stillbirths is associated with smoking. In some parts of the UK up to one in four women smoke during pregnancy, yet some health care providers can’t afford support services for women to help them stop. The slashing of Public Health budgets is having fatal consequences.
- How can the government fulfil its plans for better and safer maternity care without the capacity to deliver it? Ever-increasing pressure on the maternity workforce is threatening safety: England alone needs 3,500 more midwives.
“Sepsis the hidden killer”
Sepsis is a rare but serious complication of an infection without quick treatment, sepsis can lead to multiple organ failure and death. Anyone can develop sepsis after an injury or minor infection, although some people are more vulnerable.
There are around 123,000 cases of sepsis every year in England and 37,000-44,000 deaths. There is more deaths from this hidden killer than prostate, bowel and breast cancer combined. But why do we know so little about it?
SEPSIS, also known as blood poisoning, is the reaction to an infection in which the body attacks its own organs and tissues
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition arising when the body’ abnormal, or ‘dysregulated’, immune response to an infection causes organs to begin to fail. It can be triggered by any infection, but most commonly occurs in response to bacterial infections of the lungs, urinary tract, abdominal organs or skin and soft tissues.
Caught early, outcomes are excellent. Left unchecked, the patient is likely to spiral to multi-organ failure, septic shock and death.
There is no one sign for sepsis.
Sepsis is a serious condition that can initially look like flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection
The possible signs of SEPSIS
Slurred speech or confusion
Extreme shivering or muscle pain
Passing no urine (in a day)
It feels like you’re going to die
Skin mottled or discoloured
Find out more below:
Group B streptococcus – Group B strep (strep B)
Group B streptococcus (group B strep) is a type of bacteria that causes infection among newborns, pregnant women or women after childbirth, females after gynecologic surgery, and older male and female patients with other serious diseases.
Group B streptococcus (strep) is a common bacterium often carried in your intestines or lower genital tract. Group B strep is usually harmless in adults. In newborns, however, it can cause a serious illness known as group B strep disease.
Group B strep (strep B) usually live harmlessly inside the digestive system and in the vagina.
Strep B can sometimes cause urinary tract infections (UTIs), skin infections, bone infections, blood infections and pneumonia, particularly in vulnerable people, such as the elderly and those with diabetes.
Strep B in pregnancy
It’s estimated around one in every four pregnant women have strep B bacteria in their vagina or digestive system.
Group B Streptococcus is a normal bacterium carried by up to a third of adults, most commonly in the gut, and for up to 25% of women in the vagina, usually with no symptoms or side-effects. It is not a sexually transmitted disease, the disease is also not from bad health or cleanliness.
The bacteria can sometimes be passed on to the baby through the amniotic fluid (a clear liquid that surrounds and protects the unborn baby in the womb) or as the baby passes through the birth canal during labour.
Most babies exposed to strep B will be unaffected, but in around 1 in every 2,000 cases they can become infected.
A strep B infection during pregnancy can also cause miscarriage or stillbirth, but this is rare.
Strep B in newborn babies
As newborn babies have a poorly developed immune system, strep B bacteria can quickly spread through their body, causing serious infections such as meningitis and pneumonia.
The symptoms of a strep B infection in a newborn baby usually develop within the first few hours or days of giving birth, and include:
- being floppy and unresponsive
- poor feeding
- grunting when breathing
- an unusually high or low temperature
- unusually fast or slow breathing
- an unusually fast or slow heart rate
In some cases, a baby can pick up a strep B infection a few weeks or months after birth. It’s not known exactly why this happens, but it’s not related to infection during birth. Symptoms of a late-onset group B strep infection can include a fever, poor feeding, vomiting and reduced consciousness.
You should seek immediate medical advice if you think your baby may have a group B strep infection.
Preventing and treating strep B infections in babies
It’s possible to reduce the chances of a baby becoming infected with strep B by identifying cases where there is a risk of the bacteria being passed from a mother to their child and giving the mother antibiotics directly into a vein (intravenously) during labour.
Known risk factors that may mean you need intravenous antibiotics during labour include:
- you have previously given birth to a baby with a strep B infection
- strep B is found in your urine during tests carried out for other purposes
- strep B is found during vaginal and rectal swabs carried out for other purposes
- you have a fever during labour
- you go into labour prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
If your baby develops symptoms of a strep B infection after they’re born, they will have tests to confirm the diagnosis and will be given intravenous antibiotics as soon as possible.
Most babies who become infected can be treated successfully and will make a full recovery, although there is chance they could die as a result of complications such as meningitis. Some babies who survive are left with permanent problems, such as hearing loss, vision loss, and problems with memory and concentration.
In the UK, all pregnant women are not routinely offered testing for group B Strep
As I have found out In the UK they do not test for Strep B unless you have previously carried the infection or it is picked up during another test i.e. a urine test or swab, why is this I ask?
They do not test for this infection due to the results being inconclusive, the standard ‘non-specific’ NHS tests give a high proportion of falsely-negative results, though a positive result is reliable.
From my experience and the ordeal I’ve been through this should be something that should be tested for or at least try to test for, maybe its something that could be tested for weeks before? that way if it does show the infection is present and something can be prescribed it may help one baby in the world.
I hope reading this brings awareness rather than a ‘negative’ impact, It should be something that every pregnant woman and mother should be aware of. Even if from reading this and being aware helps one person survive or baby in this world.