Our Clinical Negligence Team at Freeths are raising awareness and supporting this Baby Loss Awareness Week between 9 – 15 October 2018. Over 60 charities are raising awareness of this campaign and the issues causing and following pregnancy and baby loss in the UK. 

Causes of baby loss 

Miscarriage

Miscarriages can happen due to many reasons, although the cause is not always found. A miscarriage during the first trimester of pregnancy (the first 3 months), is often caused by problems with the foetus and 75% of miscarriages happen during this time. 

A miscarriage after the first trimester of pregnancy can be due to an underlying health condition in the mother. For example, complications with medical conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disease, hormone problems, immune system responses, placental problems, and uterine abnormalities. For more information about the causes of miscarriage see the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage/causes/

Our blog on 8 October 2018 also explained another cause of late miscarriage and baby loss; infection and Group B Strep.

Stillbirth 

In many cases of stillbirth no cause can be found, and the death of these babies can remain unexplained which can be particularly hard for the parents. 

However, there are a number of possible causes including failure or complications with the placenta (which is linked to around half of stillbirths), pre-eclampsia, obstetric cholestasis, pre-existing diabetes, gestational diabetes, genetic defects, haemorrhage, issues with the umbilical cord, and premature birth.

For more information see the Tommy’s website: https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-complications/baby-loss/stillbirth/causes-stillbirth

Neonatal death 

Neonatal deaths can be due to a number of reasons but are often linked to complications following a premature birth, low birthweight, or genetic disorders. For more information about still birth and neonatal death please see the Sands website: https://www.sands.org.uk/

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Some families are affected by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) which is also known as "cot death" and is the sudden and unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby. Most deaths happen within the first 6 months of life and premature babies and those with a low birthweight are at a higher risk. SIDS usually occurs when a baby sleeps, however it can happen while they are awake. Every year in the UK, more than 200 babies die unexpectedly. For more information about SIDS please visit the Lullaby Trust website: https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/

Support after baby loss

The Sands Bereavement Care Audit Report 2016 found that bereavement care training has been mandatory in less than half of NHS Trusts and Health Boards, and one in three Trusts and Health Boards did not have a dedicated bereavement room in each maternity unit they cover. The bereavement support offered and available to parents to date has been inconsistent and depended on their location, stage of the pregnancy or birth that the loss has occurred, and whether individual healthcare professionals are equipped to respond. 

A core group of charities involved with Baby Loss Awareness Week have been calling on all NHS Trusts in the UK to improve the care offered to anyone bereaved by baby loss and pregnancy loss. In response the English government has supported the development National Bereavement Care Pathway. The Scottish government also plans to pilot and implement NBCP across Scotland. The National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly also hope to have pilot sites live during 2019.

The new National Bereavement Care Pathway (NBCP) standards include:

  • All bereaved parents will be given the opportunity to make memories with their babies;
  • A dedicated bereavement room will be available and accessible in every hospital;
  • Bereavement care training will be available for all staff who have contact with grieving parents;
  • Support will be given to healthcare staff dealing with the trauma of baby loss so that they are able to care for bereaved parents.

This week also marks the roll out of this programme which will transform bereavement care available for thousands of families.

In addition to the NBCP standards, there are a number of fantastic charities across the UK offering specialist support and advice to those who have suffered the tragedy of losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy, labour or following birth.

The Foundation for Infant Loss 

The Foundation for Infant Loss provides education in Infant Loss and Bereavement to a number of professionals, and their award winning courses have been accredited world wide.

In April 2018 the Foundation for Infant Loss launched its Nationwide Baby loss helpline. Using their years of knowledge they are supporting families and signposting them to financial assistance, information relating to legal issues and to emotional support. Please see their website for further information about the support available:http://www.foundationforinfantloss.co.uk/ 

Freeths’ Clinical Negligence Solicitors have a national reputation for providing the highest quality legal advice following failures by medical professionals to provide appropriate care during pregnancy, labour, delivery and in the neonatal period. We have specialist expertise in clinical negligence cases surrounding stillbirth and baby loss.

In addition to our existing years of knowledge we are proud to confirm that we have three solicitors in our national clinical negligence team who have received the fantastic training the Foundation for Infant Loss offer, and are now their recommended solicitors for the Buckinghamshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire regions. If you, or someone you know, requires specialist advice please contact:

Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester/Nottingham/Birmingham) on 0845 272 5724 or jane.williams@freeths.co.uk(Foundation for Infant Loss recommended Solicitor for Leicestershire)

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes) on 0186 578 1019 or carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk(Foundation for Infant Loss recommended Solicitor for Buckinghamshire)

Claire Cooper, Solicitor (Derby/Stoke on Trent) on 0845 274 6830 or claire.cooper@freeths.co.uk(Foundation for Infant Loss recommended solicitor for Staffordshire)