The University Maternity Hospital is relocating its counselling service
THE MORTALITY rate of babies in the University Maternity Hospital Limerick is below the national average, with 179 deaths over the past five years, new figures show.
Data obtained by the Limerick Leader show that there were 179 deaths in the Ennis Road hospital between 2011 and 2016, out of a total of 28,448 births within that period, representing a mortality rate of 0.6%.
Of the 179 deaths, 126 were stillbirths, 53 were early neonatal deaths and 70 deaths were due to congenital anomalies.
The perinatal mortality rate – excluding deaths associated with or due to a congenital malformation – ranges from 4.4 per 1,000 births in 2011, to 2 per 1,000 births last year – under the national mortality rate of 4.7 for each consecutive year.
The birth rate in Limerick was highest in 2011 at 5,169 that year, and lowest last year, with 4,474 births.
The HSE said that while the figures for the number of individual women or couples who availed of counselling over the period in question are not available, there were 940 structured counselling sessions at UMHL within this time-frame. This includes women and couples who attended counselling on more than one occasion.
Plans are in place to relocate the counselling department within a new Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit to be developed on the grounds of University Maternity Hospital Limerick.
“This will have a separate entrance to the main hospital and this will mean the women will not have to go into the main part of the hospital to access the counselling department,” said the HSE, in a statement to this newspaper.
It outlined that UMHL was the first maternity unit in the country to appoint a clinical midwifery specialist bereavement counsellor.
Data, compiled by the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre in University College Cork, and reported by the 20 maternity units, shows that there were a total of 504 deaths in 2014 arising from 67,663 births.
Stillbirths, early neonatal and late neonatal deaths accounted for 330 (65.5%), 141 (28.0%) and 33 (6.5%) of the 504 deaths, respectively.
The perinatal mortality rate was seven deaths per 1,000 births; corrected for congenital malformation, the rate was 4.7 per 1,000 births; the stillbirth rate was 4.9 per 1,000 births; and, the early neonatal death rate was 2.1 per 1,000 live births.
The mothers who experienced perinatal loss in 2014 ranged in age from teenage years through to early-forties. Over half of the population (56.1%) who gave birth in 2014 were aged 25-34 years.