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Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health

Improving the health of mothers, babies and children

Overview Maternal and Perinatal Health
Maternal & Perinatal Mortality Surveillance
Saving Mothers' Lives
Obesity in Pregnancy
Neonatal Encephalopathy
Diabetes in Pregnancy
Access to Antenatal Care
CEMACH/UCL Diabetes Project
Local clinical audits

Child Health
Child Death Review
Head Injury in Children

Near term Intrapartum death & Neonatal Encephalopathy


Near term Intrapartum death and neonatal encephalopathy was identified in 2007 as the next perinatal topic for CEMACH to take forward for work in 2008.

What is Neonatal encephalopathy?

Neonatal encephalopathy (NE) is a condition which is defined clinically as abnormal neurological behaviour at birth. It manifests itself “by difficulty with initiating and maintaining respiration, depression of tone and reflexes, subnormal level of consciousness, and often by seizures” (Nelson & Leviton, 1991). Perinatal brain injury (e.g. encephalopathy) led to major litigation claims for NHS Trusts costing between £ 1.5 and £ 4 million per case (DOH 2000). There are approximately over a thousand cases relating to birth every year; it was recommended that negligent harm due to obstetric care should be reduced by 25% in 2005 (D0H 2000). Reducing these negligence cases (and hence the associated financial and social costs) logically involves reducing the number of incidents of NE due to negligent obstetric care. 

CEMACHs Neonatal encephalopathy project 

CEMACH is currently working up a detailed proposal for the NE project, with a business case due in April 2008. The project is likely to involve a survey of organisations, the development of consensus standards with regard to the prevention of NE in the intrapartum period, and a focused clinical audit of intrapartum care based on the consensus standards.

For more information on the project, please contact Shona Golightly on 020 7486 1191

Publications Information

Data Collection Forms and other useful documents