Infant Mortality: Research

Health written question – answered on 16th June 2011.

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Photo of Zac Goldsmith Zac Goldsmith Conservative, Richmond Park

To ask the Secretary of State for Health

(1) what proportion of the funding allocated by his Department for health research was allocated to research on (a) maternal and (b) foetal health in each of the last five years; [This section has been corrected on 6 July 2011, column 15MC — read correction]

(2) what proportion of the funding allocated by his Department for (a) maternal and (b) foetal health research was allocated to research into stillbirth prevention;

(3) how much his Department has spent on research into (a) the causes and prevention of stillbirth, (b) sudden infant death syndrome and (c) preventing neonatal deaths in the last 10 years for which figures are available.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns The Minister of State, Department of Health

The Department funds research through both the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Policy Research Programme (PRP).

Estimated spend by the NIHR and PRP relating to maternal and foetal health is as follows.

Estimated spend on maternal and foetal health research (£ million) Estimated spend on maternal and foetal health research as a proportion of total NIHR revenue and PRP spend (percentage)
2006-07 4.4 0.6
2007-08 4.7 0.6
2008-09 9.0 1.1
2009-10 10.9 1.2
2010-11 12.7 1.3

The Department does not hold specific figures for the proportion of funding allocated to research into stillbirth prevention, preventing neonatal deaths or sudden infant death syndrome.

The Government fund a range of research of relevance to maternal and foetal health, including stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome.

For example, the Department's Policy Research Programme has funded a Policy Research Unit in Maternal Health and Care at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU), University of Oxford. Research themes include pregnancy loss, perinatal morbidity, maternal morbidity and maternal mortality.

The Department also funds research relevant to stillbirth. For example, through an NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Research, the Department is funding a study entitled “Improving Pregnancy Outcomes in Obese Women”. Running from 2008 to 2012, this study aims to develop an individually tailored “life style” programme for obese women.

Furthermore, the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre has an ongoing programme of research on women's health. A major focus of this research is understanding the determinants of stillbirth risk and using this understanding to improve clinical care of pregnant women.

In addition, the Government currently fund the Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries (CMACE), which publishes an annual report into perinatal mortality. CMACE monitors changes in perinatal mortality rates, and identifies causes and risk factors. In addition to providing a national overview, CMACE also provides localised information to enable maternity units to review and monitor their own rates so that action can be taken to improve services.

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