The influential think-tank - which launches its Born Unequal report at Number 11 Downing Street on Wednesday (March 28) - says that the scale of inequalities at birth in Britain are ‘a scar on the national conscience’.
The Fabian report challenges Gordon Brown to address low birth weight as a national health priority, calling for mandatory one-to-one care for babies in neonatal intensive care, and increased financial support in pregnancy for women at most risk of having underweight babies.
Research for Born Unequal found that in 1989, 67 of every 1000 babies were born with low birth weight (less than 5lb8oz) but the proportion rose to 76 by 1999 and 78 by 2006.
“Inequalities at birth in Britain are a stark matter of life and death’ says author Louise Bamfield. “If Britain had the same record on low birth weight as the best countries in Europe, 24,000 babies would have much improved life chances. The facts should shock us all. Britain has the worst rate of every country in western Europe, except Greece. And being born very small creates health risks throughout life – and will affect the health of babies they will themselves have years later.”
Harriet Harman, Constitutional Affairs minister, said: “The Born Unequal report is right to argue that the extent to which chances in life are determined by the circumstances of birth is unacceptable – we must show that we have the confidence to go out and win the public argument about why inequality matters and should be reduced if we are to create a fairer Britain.”
Women who give birth over 40 are also more likely to have a smaller baby. The Fabians, who interviewed groups of new mums for the report, found that older mothers are often unaware of the risks of low birth weight.
Bamfield says this increases the importance of employers to reduce the pressures which lead increasing numbers of women to have babies later in life.
The risk of having a low birth weight baby is much higher for some groups than others. Lone parents are nine times as likely to have a stillbirth as other parents. Babies born to working-class mothers are twice as likely to die before their first birthday as those with middle-class parents.
Mothers of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin have a high risk of having low birth-weight babies; their babies are on average 300g lighter than those of white mothers. These mothers also attend fewer antenatal appointments than other ethnic groups.
Health Minister Caroline Flint will respond to the report on Wednesday March 28’s 11 Downing Street seminar with Ed Balls, the Treasury Minister who is also Chair of the Fabian Society.
Earlier Fabian research on this issue influenced Gordon Brown’s decision last year to start paying child benefit to pregnant women. The think-tank says this was an important first step but will need to be developed into a new national strategy when Brown becomes Prime Minister this summer.
Rachael Jolley | alfa
The genes are not to blame
20.07.2018 | Technische Universität München
Targeting headaches and tumors with nano-submarines
20.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences