Health authorities in Scotland have launched an investigation after a mystery surge in deaths of newborn babies, the second time the phenomenon has been recorded in the space of six months.
A report by the Herald newspaper highlights the “very unusual” spike in deaths of babies, with the alarm being raised after 18 infants died within four weeks of birth in March.
That same control limit was also breached in September last year when 21 neonatal deaths were reported, the first time this had occurred since records began.
“The neonatal mortality rate was 5.1 per 1,000 live births in September and 4.6 per 1,000 in March, against an average of 1.49 per 1000 in 2019,” reports the newspaper.
Public Health Scotland (PHS) said the deaths could not have been down to chance, while the cause behind the previous spike in September also “remained a mystery.”
The report notes that vaccination uptake has increased in expectant mothers and that COVID infections during pregnancy are associated with a higher chance of premature birth, but found no “direct link” between COVID surges and the deaths.
PHS Scotland says COVID infections “did not appear to have played a role” in the September spate of deaths.
Edinburgh University’s Dr. Sarah Stock said, “The numbers are really troubling,” but admitted she didn’t know the cause of the deaths.