Dundee stillbirth figures ‘shameful’
City death rate double national perinatal mortality average
Babies born in Dundee are more likely to be stillborn or die within the first seven days of their lives than in any other part of Scotland.
Stark statistics revealed the perinatal mortality rate in Dundee was double the Scottish average, with 12 of every 1,000 children born having died within a week of life.
Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar MSP called the figures “shameful” and said Health Secretary Shona Robison – who represents Dundee East – must do more in her own “backyard”.
NHS Tayside said perinatal mortality rates were exacerbated by pregnant women who smoke.
The Tayside region has more women who smoke while pregnant than anywhere else in the country.
Babies born in Dundee are more likely to be stillborn or die within the first seven days of their lives than anywhere else in Scotland.
Stark figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show Dundee has the highest rate of perinatal mortality in the country and the fourth highest incidence rate in the UK.
Twelve in every 1,000 live births in Dundee were stillborn, or died within the first week of life in Dundee, double the Scottish average.
Doctors cited smoking as a major contributor to infant mortality, along with expectant mothers having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35.
More than one in five women in Tayside booking antenatal appointments with the NHS admitted to smoking while pregnant, again the highest in the country.
A spokesman for the health board said: “NHS Tayside closely monitors and reports on rates of stillbirth, neonatal and infant mortality. NHS Tayside also monitors other pregnancy outcomes including perinatal morbidity, maternal morbidity and maternal mortality.”
He added: “In addition to comprehensive reviews of stillbirths and deaths that occur within the hospital setting, preventative work around stillbirth is embedded into our midwives’ and doctors’ everyday practice.”
The stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands said although the high mortality rate did not necessarily reflect poor standards of care, health boards could not afford to become complacent.
Janet Scott, a research lead for the group, said: “ONS data is not adjusted for factors that influence perinatal mortality such as social deprivation and ethnicity, so a high mortality rate in this table doesn’t necessarily mean poor care in that region.”
Labour MSP Anas Sarwar said: “These are shameful figures that should lead to urgent action from the SNP.
“There are clearly issues to be addressed across the country – but Health Secretary Shona Robison should be taking a greater interest in these issues in her own backyard.”
Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.