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600 stillbirths could be prevented in England each year, report says

About 600 stillbirths a year could be prevented if maternity units across the country followed national best practice, NHS England has said.
About 600 stillbirths a year could be prevented if maternity units across the country followed national best practice, NHS England has said.
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About 600 stillbirths a year could be prevented if maternity units across the country followed national best practice, NHS England has said.

The lives of more than 160 babies have been saved across 19 maternity units over a two-year period, according to an evaluation of specific guidance on the issue.

The health service said four practical steps including reducing smoking in pregnancy, better monitoring of a baby's growth and movement in pregnancy, and subsequently during labour, had contributed to the improved figures.

In maternity units where the national guidance - known as the Saving Babies' Lives Care Bundle - was implemented stillbirths fell by a fifth, a guidance evaluation by the University of Manchester due to be published on Monday said.

Should these findings be replicated across England as the guidance is rolled out nationally, it has the potential to prevent an estimated 600 stillbirths, NHS England said.

Dr Matthew Jolly, national clinical director for maternity and women's health at NHS England, said the findings show "significant progress" in attempts to cut the number of stillbirths.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "We still have more to do but these results demonstrate really positive progress towards our ambition to halve the rates of stillbirth, neonatal death and maternal death by 2025."

The latest figures show that of the 696,271 births in 2016 in England and Wales, 3,112 resulted in stillbirth, NHS England said.