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Page last updated at 07:48 GMT, Thursday, 14 April 2011 08:48 UK

Health service 'ignores stillbirth'

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Rates for stillbirths in the UK are higher than in almost every other high-income country, a series of reports suggest.

The UK had about 4,100 stillbirths in 2009 and, with a rate of 3.5 per 1,000 births, was ranked 33rd in a list of 193 countries - down from 26th in 1995.

Only France and Austria ranked lower among high-income nations.

The research, in the Lancet, also points to wide regional variations - stillbirths were a third more likely in the East Midlands than the South West.

Alice Pullen, who describes herself on her blog as "the mother of one perfect boy who didn't quite make it into our big wide world", told Justin Webb about her experience of stillbirth.

"The reason we don't want to talk about it is we don't want to scare mothers," she said. "The whole health service seems to ignore stillbirth".

Professor Gordon Smith, head of the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Cambridge, said that the medical understanding of stillbirth was still "very basic".

"What we have here is a fundamental absence of knowledge," he said.

If you have been affected by still birth or neonatal death and would like to speak to someone, you can reach a helpline offered by the charity Sands on 020 7436 5881.


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