Our vision is for a world where fewer babies die.
The Department of Health committed to halving the rate of stillbirths and infant deaths in England by 2025.
To reach this goal, governments in the UK will have to at least double the rate at which they are reducing baby deaths every year between now and then. It is one of Sands’ six strategic commitments to push for the 2020 ambition to be met.
Sands is a member of the MBRRACE-UK (Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audit and Confidential Enquiries) collaboration. MBRRACE-UK is national audit programme and is commissioned by all UK governments to collect information about all stillbirths, neonatal deaths and maternal deaths across the UK. The programme tracks information about where and why babies and mothers die.
Sands works to improve care for families, not only when their baby dies, but to prevent babies dying in the first place. We have been working collaboratively with health professionals, researchers and policy makers, to raise awareness that some baby deaths in the NHS are potentially avoidable. Our one-day Stillbirth Summit in 2012 brought almost 50 experts across the UK together to develop a programme of work, directly linked to the strategy in our Preventing Babies' Deaths report.
Reviewing every baby death
In order to prevent deaths which are potentially avoidable, it is vital that the health service reviews the care mother and baby received when things go wrong.
An enquiry in 2015 (MBRRACE-UK confidential enquiry into babies who died after 37 weeks of pregnancy before birth ‘antepartum term stillbirths’) found that in 60% of stillbirths, the stillbirth might have been prevented if health professionals had followed national guidelines. An enquiry in 2017 found that 80% of babies who died as a result of something going wrong in labour might also have been prevented had babies received different care. Although professional groups recommend that hospitals review what happened when a baby dies unexpectedly, the confidential enquiries routinely find that only one in ten hospitals carry out a review and many of these are not good quality.
Our consultations with parents
We reflect the experiences parents tell us about in our work to reduce baby deaths. Personal stories are powerful in changing attitudes.
We have asked views on:
- The complaints system in England
- Maternity care in Wales
- Minimally Invasive Autopsy as an alternative to traditional post mortem
- Maternity care in England
- Parents’ priorities for research topics
- Parents views about hospital reviews of their and their baby’s care
We've launched a new Safer Pregnancy website which offers straight-talking good advice for pregnant women and mums-to-be.
Advice for a safer pregnancy
Although not all stillbirths can be prevented there are ways of ensuring you are as healthy as is possible in pregnancy.
If you are a mother-to-be, we offer the following advice, but stress that if you have any concerns at all you should immediately talk to your GP or midwife.
Don't ever feel you should not bother them. Don't sleep on it - act on it.