Scottish Stillbirth Rate 'Is among the Highest in World'

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Byline: Alan Roden Scottish Political Reporter

SCOTLAND has one of the highest rates of stillbirth in the developed world, alarming new figures have revealed.

Statistics show there were nearly 300 stillbirths in 2010, the equivalent of one every 30 hours - placing the country behind every EU nation except Bulgaria in a worldwide league table.

The death rate of babies during the latter stages of pregnancy is also on a par with impoverished countries such as Kazakhstan, Albania and Kuwait.

While the data for 2010 shows a slight reduction on previous years, last night there were calls for urgent action to address the number of infant deaths and stillbirths in Scottish hospitals.

Shameful levels of obesity, a record number of older mothers and high levels of smoking during pregnancy are all thought to be partly responsible.

Figures from the General Register Office for Scotland show that 291 stillbirths were recorded in Scotland in 2010 - a rate per 1,000 births of 4.9.

That compares with a rate of 3.5 across the UK, based on 2009 figures, and rates of 3.9 in France, 3.3 in Ireland, 3.0 in the U.S. and 2.0 in Finland.

In a table of stillbirth rates across the world, compiled by medical journal The Lancet, Scotland was placed 47th - behind countries such as Montenegro, South Korea, Lithuania, Romania and Thailand.

The rate in Albania, Mexico, Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Serbia and Kuwait is 5.0.

At the start of devolution, in 1999, the stillbirth rate in Scotland was 5.2 per 1,000 births.

Earlier this year, the SNP Government established an action group to look into the issue.

But Scottish Conservative public health spokesman Mary Scanlon said last night: 'In ten years, enormous progress has been made in drugs, technology and diagnosis and yet we are still looking at a level of stillbirth that is about the same as it was in 2000.

'I am deeply concerned that Scotland is at the top of the league table for stillbirths, not just in the UK but in Europe, too. …