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Raising awareness on stillbirth | Baby loss awareness week 2023

Baby Loss Awareness Week will be taking place from 9 to 15 October 2023 (#BLAW2023) to commemorate the lives of babies who died during pregnancy, at or soon after birth and in early childhood.

The annual event involves 60 charities, and the aim is not only to reflect on the lives lost but also to support the parents who have lost children, raise awareness of the subject, and work with professionals and services to reduce preventable deaths and improve bereavement care in this area.

The loss of a baby is thankfully relatively rare these days, discovering that it may have been avoidable can only exacerbate the unimaginable sense of grief. Parents need honest answers. Here at Clarke Willmott, we are often contacted by parents who have suffered the loss of a baby who are seeking advice. In these claims the parents not only have to deal with the devastating loss of their child, but also the fact that this could have been prevented with proper care.

This year, Baby Loss Awareness Week has a general theme of ‘stepping stones’. After pregnancy loss, life can take a path that was never expected. The week will touch on the steps of that journey.

What is stillbirth?

Stillbirth is defined as a baby born who has died after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy. Read more about how we can support you here.

How common is stillbirth?

In the UK, 1 in every 225 births is a stillbirth which equates to an average of 9 babies stillborn each day.

What causes stillbirth?

Unfortunately, around 60% of stillbirths are unexplained which means that the doctors cannot provide an explanation to the parents about the cause of the death. Often not knowing why something has happened can make things worse for the parents.

For those 40% of cases where the cause of the stillbirth could be explained, one of the most common cause of problems can be due to complications with the placenta. With increased research into these problems, it is hoped that placental causes can be better understood and therefore better detection of such problems can occur. Other problems which can cause stillbirth include:

  • Infection
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Congenital abnormality
  • Fetal growth restriction or
  • Complications with twins

What leads parents to contact lawyers after stillbirth?

A national review of stillbirths has previously identified that improvements in care may have made a difference to the outcome in about 80% of the cases reviewed. This is obviously a hugely significant figure and a large number of stillbirths which could potentially be avoided.

We represent many parents who have lost babies during late pregnancy and shortly after birth. Clients will often approach us because they are looking for answers – usually they suspect something has gone wrong with their treatment and they want to find out why their baby has died. Often their first point of call will be the hospital in question, but the hospitals are often not forthcoming with answers to their questions or an explanation of what happened.

What is the role of a lawyer in cases of stillbirth?

Each case we take on is different, and clients often want different things from a clinical negligence claim. Our job is to investigate the claim and establish the medical cause of the baby’s death, so that we can establish whether it was preventable or not with proper care. We have a team of dedicated and highly experienced medical negligence lawyers who will provide empathy, sensitivity and compassion throughout the process.

When the death has been due to substandard care, we can obtain compensation for the parents. We can also look at claiming compensation for any psychiatric injuries that the mother has sustained as a result of her experiences.

Where can I find out more about Baby Loss Awareness week?

Baby loss awareness.org includes links to a number of relevant charities who can also provide support to those in need. There will be events taking place throughout the week both locally and nationally to support this cause. In addition, we will be producing blogs throughout the week on associated relevant topics. You can also contact our clinical negligence team who will be happy to assist on 0800 316 8892 or contact us online.

You can follow us on twitter (@PI_MedNegCW) and Facebook (@ClarkeWillmottPersonalInjury)

Posted:

Your key contacts

Kerry Fifield

Partner and Clinical Negligence Team Manager

Bristol
Kerry’s primary focus is the needs of the client and their family when pursuing a claim, taking into account that each client is an individual with specific requirements who needs to be supported in addition to the legal investigation.
View profile for Kerry Fifield >

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