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Low rate of infant deaths welcomed by Midwifery Council

Low rate of infant deaths in birth welcomed by Midwifery Council

23 June 2015

The Midwifery Council, the regulatory body set up to protect the public by making sure midwives are competent and fit to practice, welcomed data released today showing a reduction in the number of infant deaths before and after birth (perinatal mortality).

The Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee (PMMRC) annual report was released today.

It shows the lowest rate of perinatal deaths since data was first collected in 2007.

“This is reassuring, and are similar to rates reported in England and Australia. Positive and measurable changes are occurring in the mortality rate for New Zealand families. It is particularly heartening to note that the rate of stillbirth has dropped significantly,” says Midwifery Council Advisor, Sue Calvert.

However the report shows that there is still work to do, particularly in the area of maternal mortality.

Even though the numbers are very small New Zealand still has a higher rate of deaths due to amniotic fluid embolism when compared to other developed countries. “Worryingly, the most common cause of indirect maternal deaths in New Zealand is suicide. We welcome the PMMRC further investigation into these issues,” Ms Calvert says.

“We’re also concerned to see an increase in the rate of perinatal deaths among the babies of teen Chief Executive of the Midwifery Council, Sharron Cole says the Council sets high standards for the education and conduct of midwives.

“Midwives need to be vigilant in following the guidelines which help them identify when pregnant mothers are at risk and need to be referred to hospital care. We expect midwives to deliver quality care, and we require them to test their professional standards on a yearly basis. If a midwife falls short we can act quickly to bring her up to the required standard, or remove her certificate to practise.

“This report provides a wealth of detailed information. There is always more that can be done to make our system even safer. We will work with professional organisations in maternity care to study the recommendations and identify ways for those professionals to improve outcomes for mothers and babies,” says Ms Cole.


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