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Update on Every Baby Matters action plan
Survival rates for babies across the district are improving, but up to 70 are still dying each year, Bradford Council has revealed.
The figures contained in a new report by the Council’s director of public health, Anita Parkin, and Kath Tunstall, the strategic director of children’s services, show that for the latest recorded period – 2009/2011 – the mortality rate for infants before their first birthday was 7.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.
This continues a downward trend since 2005, and compares to 8.3 deaths per 1,000 live births in the 2005/07 period.
The figures will be presented to the Council’s executive next Tuesday where members will be given an annual update on progress of the Every Baby Matters action plan, instigated in November 2009.
The plan was created to improve maternal and infant health and reduce infant mortality rates even further.
It already shows the improvement in survival rates of babies which, the Council says, has been achieved despite an increase in the number of pregnant women with risk factors such as child poverty, low education levels, poor housing and alcohol and drink problems.
The plan has seen improved access to midwives before 13 weeks of pregnancy, reduction in the teenage conception rate to below the national average, high vaccination rates for infants and ongoing specialist genetic inheritance training available for health and social care staff.
It draws together a number of local activities and programmes into an overall action plant that looks at child poverty, nutrition and breastfeeding, early access to maternity care and smoking, alcohol and substance misuse.
Mrs Parkin said: “Up to 70 babies die each year across the district and every one is a personal tragedy for that family.
“There are ten key areas we are focusing on to improve the survival rates of babies in the district.
“We are working to reduce the risks associated with child poverty, improve education and housing, offer early access to high-quality services from pre-conception, pregnancy through to infancy, and to improve nutrition and breastfeeding for babies.”
Mrs Tunstall said: “Bradford Council, the NHS and other key partners have been working hard to tackle the causes of infant mortality and we need to maintain focus in order to support families.”
The news comes months after the Telegraph & Argus reported that parents who are blood relatives and older mums are the two main causes for Bradford’s birth defect rate being twice the national average.
They found that while 1.7 per cent of babies across England and Wales are born with a birth defect, that figure was three per cent in Bradford.
Last month, Better Start Bradford, a major Lottery application which aims to improve the lives of babies and young children in the district, was given £347,000 to develop a programme to improve child development outcomes.
If the bid is successful, the project will see around £50m from the Big Lottery invested in Bradford over a ten-year period.
The multi-agency application to the Big Lottery Funding Programme, which is being coordinated by Bradford Trident, is looking to improve outcomes in three main areas of child development from pregnancy to three years of age. They are communication and language development, social and emotional development, and nutrition.
Dr Rafaqut Rashid, Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) clinical board lead for children and young people, said: “Tackling infant mortality is a priority for the local CCGs and we continue to work closely with the council and our other partners across the district to improve the health and overall wellbeing of local mothers and their babies, to help reduce the infant mortality gap.”
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