MORE babies are surviving in Wigan than in most parts of the country,
Latest figures released by the Office of National Statistics show that between 2008 and 2010, the Wigan borough infant mortality rate is 3.9 per 1,000 live births, which is less than the regional average of 4.9 and the national rate of 4.6.
Up to two-thirds of infant deaths occur in the neonatal period (first four weeks of life), with the mortality rate for Wigan being 2.1 per 1,000 live births.
For the North West, the neonatal mortality rate is 3.3 per 1,000 live births and for England it is 3.1 per 1,000 live births.
Dr Kate Ardern, executive director of public health for the borough of Wigan, said: “Every infant death is a tragedy but Wigan borough has a low infant mortality rate compared to other areas in the North West and England as a whole.
“We recommend that expecting mothers seek early booking for antenatal care because this allows any prior health issues to be managed and the baby to be monitored.
“It also lets us we help at an early stage if there is a problem.
“Stopping smoking during pregnancy and beyond and reducing or eliminating alcohol use during pregnancy and choosing to Breast-feed your baby are all essential actions to help give your baby the best start in life.”
She added that the work of the Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group had helped to reduce infant deaths.
The antenatal care programme signposts women to appropriate groups and the Health Visiting service follows up support after birth and reinforces advice given during antenatal care.
The Wigan Breast-feeding Network Peer Support Service gives pro-active antenatal information and post-natal hospital and home visiting support and encourages women to breast-feed, which is healthier for the baby.
She also offered the following advice:
l Book antenatal care early. This allows any prior health issues to be managed and the baby to be monitored so that if there is a problem it can be managed in a timely manner;
l Stop smoking during pregnancy and beyond;
l Reduce or eliminate alcohol use during pregnancy (no more than one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week);
l Babies should sleep on their backs as this reduces the risk of cot death (Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy);
l Parents should be discouraged from co-sleeping with their babies as occasionally this can result in the suffocation of the baby. This is especially risky in families when people smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs.