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Thursday, July 9, 1998 Published at 06:36 GMT 07:36 UK


Some infant deaths 'preventable'

The report says doctors should have a training review

The BBC's Fergus Walsh on the cot death report
A report into infant mortality claims that the deaths of about 60 babies a year could have been prevented if they had received better care from doctors or parents.

The researchers from Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy (Cesdi) in conjunction with the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths examined 456 infant deaths between 1993 and 1996.

Eighty per cent of the deaths remain unexplained and are called 'cot deaths'. But the remaining 120 deaths were found to stem, usually, from some sort of infection and the report concludes that about half of them could have been avoided.

Review of training

In several incidents, it was found that health professionals had failed to recognise the severity of the baby's illness.

Dr Mary Macintosh, the author of the report, said: "It (infant mortality) was most likely to happen in perhaps the socially disadvantaged parents - often in young mothers who'd had children early and were relatively unsupported.

The report calls for better communication between parents and doctors and recommends that there is a review of the training and continuing medical education of all doctors assuming responsibility for the emergency care of infants.

Cesdi has also published its fifth annual report which shows that in 1996 there were 10,487 stillbirths and infant deaths. The figures include 1,102 legal abortions, 1,659 late foetal deaths, 3,688 stillbirths, 2,785 neonatal deaths and 1,253 postnatal deaths.

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