MBRRACE-UK has published the findings of the UK Perinatal Mortality Surveillance for 2013. The document is freely available online in its entirety and summaries and infographics are also available.
Sadly, some members of the UK press have seen this report as another opportunity to attack normal birth and midwifery rather than address some of the key factors that are associated with stillbirth and neonatal deaths, which include social deprivation and ethnicity.
MBRRACE-UK themselves make the following statement about the report:
“The findings are generally heartening with an overall improvement in the rates of stillbirths and neonatal deaths continuing the trend from 2003 onwards. These findings are very welcome especially against the background of the increasing medical complexity of the maternity population. However, the overall findings mask the wide variation in rates seen across the UK. This variation remains despite the fact that the new analytical methods introduced by MBRRACE-UK take into account aspects of case-mix to enable ‘fairer’ comparisons in mortality outcomes between services which provide care for high risk and low risk pregnancies and also adjust for the random variation in rates which occur due to the small number of births in some areas.” Manktelow et al (2015: i)
Clearly, there is lots that can be learned from this kind of exercise. But it is complex, and needs careful consideration. Wouldn’t it be great if the findings of mortality surveillance and other studies could be discussed, analysed and learned from within a context of seeking to genuinely improve care for women, babies and families rather than inaccurately spun into sensationalistic news stories?
Manktelow BN, Smith LK, Evans TA et al on behalf of the MBRRACE-UK collaboration (2015). Perinatal Mortality Surveillance Report: UK Perinatal Deaths for births from January to December 2013. MBRRACE-UK: Leicester.