Infant Mortality

Areas for focus

The report ‘Why children die’ states that’s since infant mortality rates are the highest of all childhood mortality, the greatest scope for improvement lies in that area. Preventing risk of preterm and low birth weight and promoting good maternal health are promoted as good ways forward v. Reasons for low birth weight are multi-factorial and evidence reviews suggest two key public health interventions to prevent low birth weight: smoking cessation during pregnancy and improved maternal nutrition.  (Maternity and Public Health Commissioners).

The tackling health inequalities in infant and maternal health outcomes report iv noted that health inequalities in infant mortality can not be dealt with by the NHS alone, but required a combined response taking account the wider determinants of health. Locally we should continue work to tackle the causes of infant mortality through:

  • Continued monitoring of smoking in pregnancy rates and improved numbers of referrals to ensure effectiveness of the stop smoking interventions in place to reduce the number of women smoking in pregnancy. The stop smoking service plans to develop a young persons stop smoking service. This will help to reduce the numbers of teenage parent smokers locally.(Public Health Commissioners)
  • Continued monitoring of excess weight in pregnancy and ensure improved numbers of referrals to commissioned programmes to reduce the number of pregnant women who have excess weight. Referrals from midwifery services, particularly from the Luton and Dunstable hospital needs to be strengthened to ensure women who have a BMI of over 30 are accessing the commissioned weight management service.(Maternity and Public Health Commissioners)
  • Continued strengthening and delivery of good quality GP, Maternity and Health Visiting services in partnership with Children’s Centres  to improve maternal and infant health through support, education and screening. (GPs, Maternity, Public Health and Children’s commissioning)
  • Continued implementation of the 0-5 HCP to educate parents on safe sleeping practices and promote breast feeding;  to promote parent and infant attachment to ensure we create engaged responsive parents who keep their child in mind. This will ensure that the reducing smoking, healthy weight and caring for babies appropriately at night messages will be more clearly heard and understood. (Public health and maternity commissioners)
  • Reduction in child poverty through improved promotion of the Healthy Start scheme by health professionals, children’s centre staff and others working with pregnant women to improve the low uptake of vouchers (1).
  • Continued work to prevent teenage pregnancies for example by increasing self esteem and aspirations of young people and providing support to teenage parents through the Central Bedfordshire pathway and the family nurse partnership.(Public Health commissioners)
  • Continued referral into the Aspire and ‘My Life programmes for children at risk of teenage pregnancy.(Public Health )
  • Developing closer working protocols to make the link between health and housing to address the impact of poor housing and overcrowding on infant mortality.(Housing services)
  • Research into mothers not born in the UK and those from black ethnic groups to inform targeted initiatives.

Plans for the CDOP 2014-2015 are to:

  • Continue to raise awareness and dissemination of lessons learned from the Child Death Overview Process through training sessions and newsletters
  • Ensure information on CDOP is contemporary and available on LSCB websites
  • Continue to ensure that CDOP receive feedback that consistent messages on safe sleeping are given to parents by midwives and health visitors
  • Audit work on sudden deaths in infancy  to include safe sleeping messages
  • Work with Public Health to understand measures in place to reduce smoking in pregnancy strategies and to ensure that access to stop smoking services and campaigns to raise awareness of the risk of smoking in pregnancy are in place.
  • Ensure through awareness raising that midwives are aware of the modifiable factors and are working with Public Health to ensure pathways are in place for pregnant women to promote healthier lifestyle choices.



(1) Healthy Start



Last updated Wednesday, 1st November 2017