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Weekend babies ‘significantly’ higher chance of death

Posted in: Medical Negligence 

In a study published in the British Medical Journal has revealed that babies born in English hospitals at the weekend have a ‘significantly’ higher chance of dying than those born during the week.  The study looked at the rates of stillbirths or deaths within seven days from 2010-12 and comprised more than 1.3 million births. The result showed that around 7.1 deaths per 1000 babies born at weekends was 7% higher than babies born on weekdays. The team from Imperial College London estimated that there would be 770 fewer deaths per year if all days had the same rate as a Tuesday.

The lead researcher from the College, Dr William Palmer, said that the increased death rates at weekends and other problems was ‘concerning’, and that further investigation would have to take place to get to the root of the problem.

Planned caesarean sections on weekdays

Mothers sustaining infections and babies being injured during delivery, including anything from cuts to brain damage, were also higher at weekends. A factor influencing this could be that most planned Caesarean sections, which carry lower risks, are carried out on weekdays.

Researchers have looked into the reasons behind the figures and cannot identify the cause of the higher risks. Staffing levels have been studied with particular emphasis on comparing hospitals complying with guidelines for consultant cover at weekends and those not, but no significant difference was identified. They stressed, however, that much more data would have to be studied before ruling this out as a reason.

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