HL Deb 22 February 1994 vol 552 cc47-8WA
Baroness Fisher of Rednal

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are aware of any research being undertaken into high recorded infant mortality rates.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege)

United Kingdom infant mortality rates are at their lowest ever recorded levels. The UK rate for 1992 was 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, down from 12.4 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1979.

Much research is being conducted by academic and health service bodies, both in this country and abroad, to seek a better understanding of infant mortality. An on-going study is being conducted by the National Advisory Body for the Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy (CESDI). This was launched in 1992 and is designed to provide information to enable the incidence of these tragic events to be reduced even further. The first annual report on the work of the enquiry was published on 15 November 1993 and copies are available in the Library.

Although the overall rate for the United Kingdom is at a record low, infant mortality rates remain high in a small number of districts. In addressing this, health authorities have been required, as part of the National Health Service Chief Executive's priorities for 1992–93 and 1993–94, to monitor rates of stillbirths and infant deaths, and to set targets for their reduction.