HC Deb 10 June 2002 vol 386 c1101W
Mr. Mark Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on the certification and registration of still-born babies of between 18 and 24 weeks gestation. [59162]

Ms Blears

The Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953, as amended, provides for the registration of babies born dead after 24 weeks gestation. When a baby is born dead before 24 weeks gestation (the legal age of viability), the law does not require the birth to be certified or registered.

If a baby is born dead before 24 weeks gestation, parents can obtain a certificate from the doctor or midwife who attended the delivery, stating that their baby was born before the legal age of viability and showed no signs of life. This will enable the parents to have their baby buried or cremated. The Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society's Guidelines "Pregnancy loss and the death of a baby. Guidelines for professionals (1995)" recognise that forms and certificates are often greatly valued by parents who otherwise may have little or no evidence or mementoes of their baby's existence. It states that it is good practice to offer all parents a copy to keep, whether or not they need it for practical reasons and that the documents should, where possible, be sensitively and sympathetically worded.