How often does it happen?

Six babies die neonatally every day in the UK (1).

In 2011, 1,821 babies died within the first hours or days of their lives, and another 561 died at between 1 and 4 weeks (1).

The number of babies who die in the neonatal period – within the first 28 days of birth – has fallen by 20% over the last decade, largely due to progress in caring for premature infants. However, it still remains the case that one in 300 babies dies in the first 4 weeks of life and around a quarter of these babies are born at term (2).

(1) Office for National Statistics 2013. Child mortality statistics: childhood, infant and perinatal, 2011

(2) Perinatal Mortality Report 2009, Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries 2011

Many babies who die within the first 4 weeks of life have a congenital disorder or were born prematurely.  In the remainder of cases the cause is unknown or due to potentially avoidable issues that have originated in pregnancy and during labour.

Around 500 babies die every year because of a trauma or event during birth that was not anticipated or well managed. Some are stillborn and some die neonatally. These deaths, when they occur at term, should never happen and almost always could be avoided with better care.

One crucial omission in global health research and policy has been the health of newborns. While the infant and the mother have been at the centre of efforts to protect early childhood, the newborn period has been relatively neglected. This marginalisation is difficult to square with the bare numbers: 8 million children are either stillborn or die each year within the first month of life.