Birth injury rates in Britain the second highest in Western Europe

Britain now has the second-worst infant mortality rate in Western Europe and lags behind most of Eastern Europe in its provision of maternity care – according to figures disclosed from a study by the University of Leicester. However, behind the figures, there is another story.


Failure to learn from mistakes

One of the significant problems with maternity negligence figures is that the NHS does not routinely collate data on birth traumas; neither does it carry out reviews to establish any pattern as to why the injuries occurred. If a baby is stillborn, the only requirement is an internal investigation in the hospital concerned and there is no duty to share findings with other settings. Consequently, there is a systemic failure to learn from mistakes in antenatal care and in the delivery room.


Birth injury problems down to basic errors in maternity care

 The main findings of the Leicester study show that, in the majority of cases, birth injuries are down to basic errors in maternity care, with the researchers citing two key areas for concern:


  • a lack of proper monitoring of fetal growth during pregnancy
  • failures in monitoring fetal heart rate in the time leading up to birth


With the former, ineffective antenatal care can mean that potential complications are not anticipated early enough. Thus, the mother and baby may not receive the most effective care during or after labour.

With the latter, oxygen deprivation can happen if it is not noticed in time that the baby is in distress and the necessary actions taken to quicken the delivery.


Both of these situations can lead to a variety of birth injuries including brain damage – such as cerebral palsy – which will require lifelong, specialist care. They can also result in stillbirth or early neonatal death or injuries to the mother.


Experts call for the use of safer childbirth checklist

It has been widely known for some time that maternity services are under extreme pressure and the standard of midwife training has come under criticism. However, experts have suggested that standards could be significantly improved by the simple adoption of the World Health Organisation’s Childbirth Safety Checklist, as used in other countries.


“Thankfully, for the majority of mothers-to-be, their pregnancy results in a healthy baby,” says Fran Pollard, specialist medical negligence solicitor at Gadsby Wicks. “However, for those who have suffered a birth injury, their tragedy is compounded by the knowledge that the situation could have been avoided had there been appropriate safeguards in place.”


If your baby has suffered because of a badly handled birth, our specialist medical negligence lawyers may be able to help you make a claim for compensation. Please contact us in confidence and free of charge on 0800 321 3112 or email us here to make an enquiry.


Please see here for case studies involving some of the families we have helped following their experience of birth injury.

Posted 17th June 2015 | Posted in News,Uncategorised