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Baby loss awareness week

Couple being comforted by a doctor
28th September 2016

Whilst infant mortality rates have decreased due to improvements in healthcare, midwifery, and neonatal intensive care, losing a child during or soon after birth is a tragic event that still affects thousands of families in the UK each year.

In order to raise awareness of this highly sensitive issue, Baby Loss Awareness Week takes place from the 9th to the 15th October. It sees a number of charities join forces to provide an opportunity for bereaved parents, families and friends of those affected to share their grief and commemorate the lives of the children that they have lost. 

The death of a loved one can be an extremely difficult time for any family to endure and is one that will affect them for the rest of their lives. However, this suffering can be further compounded when medical negligence has been a factor.  

This post looks at the most common causes of infant mortality, the support available for those affected and options for legal action if the tragic loss of life could have been avoided and those at fault need to be held to account.

Infant mortality in the UK

In April 2016 the Office for National Statistics released figures relating to stillbirths, infant and childhood deaths which occurred in 2014. They show that there were 2,517 infant deaths recorded in England and Wales.

Around 8% of deaths in those aged under one years of age were subject to an inquest - often triggered because the coroner believes that medical negligence may have been a contributing factor.

In 2007 the National Patient Safety Agency study of 'serious critical incidents', revealed that the three most common reasons for injury or loss of life for infants were:

  • Delays following calls for assistance
  • A busy or heavy workload for medical professionals
  • Unavailability of senior staff

 Common issues related to medical negligence include:

  • Antepartum haemorrhage (APH) or bleeding during pregnancy
  • Eclampsia
  • Placenta Previa
  • Placental abruption
  • Uterine rupture
  • Untreated new-born jaundice
  • Kernicterus
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Failure to properly measure the baby's heartbeat during labour

Whatever the cause of your loss, it is important to remember that help is available.

Support exists

No matter what the circumstances or causation may be, charities such as Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) and Tommy’s exist to support those affected by the loss of a baby.

Both charities aim to increase funding for research into improving maternity care practice and develop deeper understanding of how to prevent early deaths in infants.

The charities take part in National Baby Loss Awareness Week (9th to 15th October) which provides an annual opportunity for those who have suffered as a result of the passing of a child to mark the occasion, with this culminating in Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on 15th October.

Additional support also exists, NHS Choices have a page specifically for those suffering a bereavement and counselling services are available.

No compensation can make up for the loss of a loved one, but pursuing legal action can ensure those who have failed in their provision of care are held to account.  

Where medical negligence has occurred, litigation can also help raise awareness of the issue and drive standards across the medical profession to reduce the chances of the error happening

How Your Legal Friend can help

Where loss of an infant has been the result of negligence by healthcare providers, it’s important for families to understand that legal action can be taken.

The highly experienced team at Your Legal Friend has helped many families affected by the unnecessary death of a loved one to seek justice and their professionalism ensures they are equipped to deal with potential claims with sensitivity and discretion.

If you think you’ve been affected by medical negligence, you can speak to them confidentially on: 0808 159 6456