Rugby bucks trend with low baby mortality rates

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There are few babies dying within a year of being born in Rugby, bucking the national trend.

Across England, both the infant and neonatal mortality rates worsened for the third year in a row, after decades of improvement, which baby charity Bliss said was “deeply concerning”.

In Rugby, three infants died within a year a being born in 2017, compared with seven the year previously, according to the latest Office for National Statistics figures.

This means the infant mortality rate, a key indicator of early years care, decreased from 5.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016 to 2.5 in 2017.

There were too few deaths within four weeks of birth in 2017 for the ONS to calculate a neonatal mortality rate in Rugby.

The ONS says the infant and neonatal mortality rates can fluctuate between years in local authorities due to the small number of deaths.

Caroline Lee-Davey, chief executive of the premature and sick baby charity Bliss, said the national figures were “deeply concerning”, especially after the Government’s commitment to halve the rate of neonatal deaths by 2025.

“Bliss’s own research has shown repeatedly that there are insufficient nursing and medical staff to meet standards of safety and quality across neonatal services, with a clear link in particular between one-to-one nursing care for the smallest and sickest babies and neonatal survival,” she said.

“It is time for the Government to ensure neonatal units have the funding and resources they need in order to give every baby in the country the best chance of survival and quality of life.”

Rugby has a lower infant mortality rate than the West Midlands. Across the West Midlands, 380 babies died within 12 months of being born last year.

Ms Lee-Davey said “babies born into poorer families have a much higher mortality risk”.