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Infant Mortality

Volume 958: debated on Monday 20 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will publish in the Official Report figures to illustrate his statement, Official Report, 13th November, column 106, during the Second Reading debate on the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Bill, that the perinatal mortality figure is going down very rapidly.

The following table shows the perinatal mortality rate—stillbirths and infant deaths under one week per 1,000 total births—for England and Wales for the years 1947 to 1977.

YearRate
194740·3
194838·5
194938·0
195037·4
195138·2
195237·5
195336·9
195438·1
195537·4
195636·7
195736·2
195835·0
195934·1
196032·8
196132·0
196230·8
196329·3
196428·2
196526·9
196626·3
196725·4
196824·7
196923·4
197023·5
197122·3
197221·7
197321·0
197420·4
197519·3
197617·7
197717·0
The provisional perinatal mortality rate for the first quarter of 1978 is 15·9.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what research is being currently sponsored by his Department into perinatal mortality and infant mortality; what is the cost of each project; and when is each project likely to be completed.

My Department is currently funding the following research relating to perinatal and infant mortality:

Dr. Eve Alberman at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is studying the success of medical care in reducing the mortality and morbidity of babies weighing 2,000 grammes or less at birth. The total cost of this project is estimated at £47,000; and it is due to be completed in September 1979.
A multicentre study of post perinatal deaths is being carried out under the direction of Professor Knowelden at Sheffield University. The objective of the research is to identify the factors contributing to death and the formulation of preventive measures. The total estimated cost of the research is over £300,000; and the pro-gramme is due to be completed by Dec-ember 1980.
Dr. Ian Chalmers at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at the Research Institute, Churchill Hospital, Oxford is conducting epidemiological research in the perinatal field with a view to providing information which can promote effective use of resources in the perinatal health services. The Department's initial support is estimated at £146,000, over a period of five years ending in December 1982.
Professor Hibbard at the Welsh National School of Medicine is carrying out a study of screening for neural tube defects. The total cost is estimated at £106,000 and the project is due to be completed in November 1979.
In addition the Department has just approved a grant of £5,000 to Mrs. J. C. Roberts at Park Hospital for Children, Oxford to study the link between sudden infant death and child abuse. It is expected that this project will commence in May 1979 and last for 12 months.
I understand from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science that the Medical Research Council also supports relevant research in these areas, details of which will be circulated in the

Official Report as soon as possible. Such research is also being undertaken by universities and hospital medical schools, but she regrets that details are not available.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will publish in the Official Report his Department's definition of perinatal mortality, infant mortality and neonatal mortality; on what basis national figures are collected and at what frequency; whether they separate illegitimate births; and

TABLE 1
>NUMBER OF SECURE PLACES IN ALL COMMUNITY HOMES
Regional planning areaPlaces for girlsPlaces for boysPlaces for both sexesTotal
15050
253513
31632250
4127625
533
666
717623
8204060
9
1022
111226240
Total6513473272

whether they separate hospital and home confinements.

The definitions are—

perinatal mortality rate: stillbirths and deaths under one week of age per 1,000 total (live and still) births,
infant mortality rate: deaths under one year of age per 1,000 live births,
neonatal mortality rate: deaths under four weeks of age per 1,000 live births.
Statistical information from birth and death registrations in England and Wales is sent to the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys weekly, and from this it is possible to compile figures about infants by legitimacy and place of confinement. Basic statistics are compiled and published weekly or quarterly, but analyses based on legitimacy or place of confinement are at present only compiled annually.