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Grieving parents will get 'baby loss certificate' to recognise miscarriages

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PARENTS who lose an unborn baby will be offered official government certificates to record the life of a child lost before 24 weeks of pregnancy.

One in five women suffer miscarriage and tens of thousands more children die in the womb every year.

Couples will have the option to officially record their unborn baby's death

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Couples will have the option to officially record their unborn baby’s deathCredit: Getty

The Department of Health’s scheme will apply from today for free for parents of babies lost before six months of pregnancy.

Mums and dads can choose to put the baby’s death in official government records if they want to but it will not be compulsory.

Under existing rules, babies older than 24 weeks are registered as a stillbirth if they die in the womb, or receive a birth and death certificate if they are born alive but do not survive.

Younger children had no form of official recognition in England until now.

This will make a genuinely positive difference to many who have experienced pregnancy or baby loss

Ruth Bender AtikThe Miscarriage Association

Ruth Bender Atik, of the Miscarriage Association, said: “For many, if not most people, even the earliest of losses can be deeply distressing, both emotionally and physically. 

“It means the loss not only of this pregnancy but also of the hopes, plans and dreams that they had for this new life.  

“Having no formal acknowledgement or marker of their loss can compound people’s grief. 

“The new certification scheme will make a genuinely positive difference to many who have experienced pregnancy or baby loss, offering formal recognition of the tiniest of lives.”

Over 250,000 lost pregnancies per year in UK

Baby loss charity Tommy’s estimates there are 250,000 miscarriages every year in the UK.

There are also around 11,000 hospital admissions for ectopic pregnancy, when the egg tries to grow outside of the womb.

And there are further 19,000 admissions for molar pregnancies, which do not develop properly and fail.

The Department of Health said: “It may not be possible to prevent many pre-24-week pregnancy losses but much more can be done to ensure each grieving parent receives excellent care and compassionate support.”

Parents or surrogates can apply for a certificate for any pregnancy since September 1, 2018,  if they were over 16 and live in England now and at the time they lost their baby.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “Losing a baby can be a hugely traumatic event.

“The introduction of certificates to formally acknowledge the loss of life is a positive step towards better supporting women and parents affected.”

WHAT IS MISCARRAIGE AND WHY DO PREGNANCIES FAIL?

MISCARRIAGE is generally the death of an unborn baby in the first 24 weeks – approximately six months – of pregnancy.

Miscarriages may not be spoken about a lot but they are very common. Baby loss charity Tommy’s estimates there are at least 250,000 per year in the UK and that one in every five pregnancies ends in miscarriage.

It may not be clear why a miscarriage happens but they are rarely caused by anything done by the mother or father. Usually the embryo has a random genetic defect that means it cannot develop properly.

Most women can go on to successfully have healthy babies in the future.

The NHS says most miscarriages cannot be prevented but avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol and taking drugs while pregnant can reduce the risk.

Some of the other most common reasons for a pregnancy to fail in the first 24 weeks are ectopic pregnancy and molar pregnancy.

Ectopic pregnancy is where a fertilised egg implants somewhere outside of the womb, usually in a fallopian tube. It cannot survive and grow there so either dies naturally or must be terminated.

Molar pregnancy is rarer but happens when a fertilised egg and/or placenta do not develop properly at the start of a pregnancy. There is no single reason why it happens and it cannot be prevented, though it may be more common in very young or old mothers.

A baby who dies after 24 weeks is considered a stillbirth.

Source: NHS

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