Our organisations, Bliss, Tamba and Tommy’s, are delighted that the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has announced the Government’s commitment to reducing preterm birth from 8 to 6 per cent by 2025 in his speech today. In the UK, up to 60,000 babies are born prematurely every year. Premature birth can lead to a baby suffering lifelong health and developmental problems, and has a lasting and significant impact on families. Preterm birth not only puts babies at risk of health problems; it is also the leading cause of neonatal death in the UK.
Our organisations work tirelessly to fund research into the causes of preterm birth, reduce the numbers of babies born too soon, and provide support to families going through this often traumatic experience. There are already models of excellent clinical care in the UK for women at high risk of pre-term birth, but much more needs to be done to ensure that every pregnant woman gets a good standard of care by correctly identifying risk factors and ensuring appropriate action is taken when needed. This means referring women for additional screening when necessary and offering the right treatments for any risks identified; we know that if we do this preterm birth can be reduced. We also know that if women giving birth prematurely do so in the right place, with access to excellent neonatal services on site, their babies are much better off in the long term. Reducing preterm birth and giving every premature baby the best start is not only best for babies and families - it will also save the NHS up to a billion pounds a year.
The Government’s commitment is an important step forward, and we look forward to working with them to make this reduction a reality, sparing parents and their babies the trauma, distress and heartbreak that can go hand in hand with preterm birth.
Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive, Bliss
Keith Reed, Chief Executive, Tamba (Twins and Multiple Births Association)
Jane Brewin, Chief Executive, Tommy’s