Drop in West Midlands' stillbirth rates

Image caption,
The largest fall in stillbirths in the region was in Birmingham and Solihull

Experts have said they have seen a "significant" drop in stillbirth rates in the West Midlands in the past year.

The West Midlands Stillbirth Report said there were 5.02 stillbirths per 1,000 births in the region in 2011, compared to 5.27 in 2010.

It said it was the first time the West Midlands had fallen below the national average for stillbirth numbers.

Experts said the fall was because medical staff were getting better at spotting babies potentially at risk.

The report said the drop between 2010 and 2011 equated to more than 50 extra babies being born alive and healthy.

Professor Jason Gardosi, director of the West Midlands Perinatal Institute, said research carried out there had shown problems with the placenta often caused babies to under develop and in many cases lead to stillbirths.

He said the institute had developed special growth charts to predict the ideal growth of a baby, and identify those who were falling behind.

He said: "Midwives and doctors across the region have become better at identifying and investigating babies at risk.

"As a result babies in affected pregnancies can be delivered in better condition and few die as a result of complications due to foetal growth restriction."

The largest fall in stillbirths in the region was in Birmingham and Solihull, where the rate dropped by 38% from 2009 to 2011.

Across England and Wales, the number of babies being born stillborn rose from 5.11 per 1,000 births in 2010 to 5.24 in 2011.