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Neonatal Mortality

Volume 486: debated on Monday 19 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent research he has (a) commissioned and (b) assisted into unexplained neonatal mortality. (248216)

The Department funds national health service research and development through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Three of the NIHR's biomedical research centres are undertaking research into cot and infant death.

In addition, the NIHR clinical research network is supporting a number of potentially relevant studies. Details are available on the network's portfolio database at:

www.ukcrn.org.uk/index/clinical/portfolio_new.html.

The Department's Policy Research Programme (PRP) funds the National Epidemiology Unit and the British Paediatric Unit. A significant part of the work of these units is concerned with aspects of neonatal and infant mortality. The PRP is also funding research into the relationship between outdoor air pollution and infant mortality.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans the Confidential Inquiry into Maternal and Child Health has further to review how it determines the (a) number of babies who are stillborn and (b) levels of neonatal mortality. (248218)

Confidential Inquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) produces an annual national report covering perinatal mortality, which includes stillbirths and neonatal deaths to 28 days of life and feedback reports for every strategic health authority and provider trust with a maternity unit.

A major development in respect of stillbirth reporting has been a new system for classifying cause of death and the associated data collection form, introduced earlier this year. The first national reports using this new data will be available from April 2010.

In addition, for neonatal mortality, the annual national report for 2007, which CEMACH expects to publish in May 2009, will contain a focus section on neonatal mortality. This will provide new quantitative data on:

variations in neonatal mortality stratified by the level of neonatal care provided;

neonatal transfers and mortality;

neonatal mortality and place of birth; and

neonatal mortality and time of first booking for antenatal care and the UK position on international comparisons on neonatal mortality.

CEMACH is also developing comparative analysis on neonatal mortality for 2007 for each of the new local safeguarding children boards.