Three Thousand Babies Die Every Year In The UK.......and parents of so called 'bed blockers' want to know why
6 April 2006
Parents told that their tiny babies are ‘bed blockers’ are demanding to know why their babies are being born with potentially life-threatening conditions.
Charity Action Medical Research says that the answer lies in the lack of money going into research to stop babies being born before their bodies are ready to cope with the outside world.
An online petition launched by the charity, www.standupfortinylives.org, has revealed that, for some parents, all that they can do is to wait and hope.
This is small consolation for the three thousand families devastated by the death of a baby every year. Over half of these deaths are as a result of premature birth.
Andrew Proctor of Action Medical Research said, “The focus on ‘bed-blocking’ is clouding the issue – these babies shouldn’t be in incubators they should still be in the womb.
“Yet each year we hear that the number of babies needing special care is rising.
“It’s a desperate situation, research to find ways to stop early birth and pregnancy complications is incredibly underfunded and relies heavily on charity support.
“We are one of the major funders in this area, looking to raise over £3m with our Touching Tiny Lives campaign.
“However, it is an area that must also have greater investment from Government; which is what our petition is calling for.
“The UK’s Special Care Baby Units are amazing, however I think most people can understand that if there’s any possible way to prevent babies from needing painful and invasive treatment then it should definitely be looked at.
“This is why research is so important.”
Professor Nicholas Fisk, Professor of Obstetrics and Fetal Medicine at Imperial College London said, “Pregnancy complications have a devastating effect not only on the mother and child but on the whole family.
“This is one of the most challenging but rewarding areas of research, yet progress against the big three diseases of pre-eclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, and preterm labour has been severely hampered by the lack of drug company funding.
“This imbalance compared to other specialties cannot be made up by the, albeit exemplary, effort of charities alone.”
Petition signatory, Claire Shearer, knows only too well the cost of this lack of research funding. She lost her son Cameron when he was less than six months old as a result of complications brought about by his premature birth.
She said, “Cameron arrived 16 weeks early and weighed just 1lb 12 oz. I must admit that up until that point I was a bit clueless about premature babies. I just thought they all went into an incubator for a while and that they were fine after that."
At first, Cameron seemed determined to confirm Claire's beliefs, gradually building his strength and even coming off the ventilator and starting to breathe for himself.
Sadly though, Cameron was diagnosed with a condition called necrotising entercolitis when only three weeks old. This happens to very early babies because their gut hasn't had a chance to develop properly and can be fatal.
He had seven major operations in his short life, each one more devastating than the one before. At the same time Claire also had Cameron’s sisters Chloe and Holly, aged 3 and 2, to look after – who were fortunately able to visit their little brother and drew him lots of pictures.
Claire said, “The girls were there on the day he died, and I got them in to say ‘cheerio’ as usual before they left and my Dad took them home.
“But I waited a couple of days to tell them that Cameron had died. They were absolutely devastated.
“We’re fine now, we still miss him of course – we will always miss him – this is something we will never get over.”
Andrew Proctor added, “The petition has highlighted many tragic stories like Claire’s.
“The common theme through all of these messages, though, is a desperation for more to be done.
“We’re doing all we can as a charity to raise money – all we are asking is that the Government does the same for this forgotten area of research.”
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