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Why we exist

premature baby

Over 95,000 babies are born premature or sick and in need of neonatal care in the UK each year. That’s 1 in 8 babies, or around 270 babies every day.

The time babies spend on a neonatal unit and the care they receive is vital to determining their chances of survival, long-term outcomes and quality of life.

Why Bliss is needed: facts about premature babies and babies born sick

  • Over 60 per cent of babies in neonatal care are born full term but sick. The five most common conditions are respiratory problems, infection, hypoglycaemia, jaundice, and asphyxia/HIE.
  • 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK each year and most premature births are spontaneous, with no clear cause. Many of these babies will need urgent neonatal care after birth.
  • Premature birth can result in life long conditions such as cerebral palsy, behavioural and long term health problems. Some research has also found that the earlier a baby is born the higher their risk of having special educational needs at school.
  • The UK has one of the highest rates of premature birth in the world, ranking 134 out of 184 countries. This is higher than many countries in Europe and higher than Peru, Chile and Egypt.
  • The emotional and financial burden of having a baby in neonatal care can be huge. Parents are more likely to suffer from post-natal depression and on average they spend an extra £282 per week while their baby is in hospital.
  • Premature birth is the leading cause of death among children under one in the UK, and children under five worldwide.
  • The average length of time a baby spends in neonatal care is eight days but babies born at less than 27 weeks of pregnancy spend an average of 93 days in hospital.
  • The average cost to the NHS of a day of neonatal care is £805, meaning that if every baby spent just one day less in neonatal care a staggering £60 million would be saved each year.
  • Two-thirds of units in England do not have enough medical staff to meet safety standards and 70 per cent of intensive care units look after more babies than is safe.

Read all facts and statistics 

What does Bliss do for premature and sick babies?

Bliss exists to give every baby born premature or sick in the UK the best chance of survival and quality of life. We champion their right to receive the best care by supporting families, campaigning for change and supporting professionals, and enabling life-changing research.

“The nurse looking after Millie kindly gave us a Bliss booklet to read. It had the most overwhelming effect knowing there was this support network available to us. I would sit by her incubator reading the booklet digesting and understanding the journey ahead of us. It made me feel so supported" - Louisa Buck

Read Louisa’s account of her daughter’s fight for survival when she was born at 34 weeks of pregnancy with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

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