§ Mr. Alton
To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he will issue a circular to health authorities and hospital trusts reviewing the procedures involved in still-birth cases, what information he has on burials being 631W refused to still-born children where certificates of death have been withheld; how many still-births and miscarriages occurred in the United Kingdom in the last 12 months; and what plans he has to introduce legislation to change the definition of still birth and the present gestational upper limits of still-birth definition.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
Detailed guidance on procedures in respect of still-born babies is contained in circulars DS 211/75, HN(76)18 and HN(85)31, copies of which are available in the Library.
Information about burials of still-born children and the number of miscarriages is not collected centrally. A total of 3,688 stillbirths occurred in the United Kingdom in 1989, the latest year for which figures are available.
As soon as a suitable legislative opportunity arises, the Government will seek Parliament's agreement to amend the definition of still-birth to include babies born dead after the 24th week of gestation.