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Sharp rise in babies at risk of serious health issues as 1 in 5 miss vital checks

ONE in five babies missed out on timely health and development checks last year, figures show.

Official data reveals that only 82 per cent of newborns received vital check ups from a health visitor within the first two weeks, in 2021.

Almost one in five newborns miss vital health checks last year, figures show
Newborn parents should expect a health visitor to visit their home within 14 days of their child’s birth

While a staggering 21 per cent of infants missed their check up within the last quarter of the year (between October and December 2021).

This is the lowest proportion of timely newborn health check ups recorded in recent years, according to the Office for Health Improvements and Disparities.

According to the NHS website, all newborn parents should expect a health visitor to visit their home and do a new baby review within ten to 14 days of the birth. 

The expert provides advice on safe sleeping, vaccinations, feeding your baby, adjusting to life as a new parent and your baby’s development.

Georgina Mayes of the Institute of Health Visiting told the Health Service Journal (HSJ): “It’s very worrying to see that the uptake of the new birth contact by 14 days has seen such a steep decline over the last year, particularly when the first month of life is the most vulnerable period for a baby.” 

However, it’s not the case that health visitors are failing to visit newborns at all.

The number of families receiving a new birth visit after 14 days has risen from nine per cent in 2020-21 to 14 per cent in 2021-22, suggesting health visitors are making contact later than in previous years.

The slump in timely reviews comes as the number of health visitors begins to fall.

Data from NHS Digital reveals there were 5,870 health visitors in July 2022, a drop of 43 per cent from its peak of 10,309 in October 2015.

Kate Holmes, of charity The Lullaby Trust, told HSJ: “Safer sleep saves babies’ lives and all families should be given advice on how to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome for their baby.

“The new birth visit is a key opportunity for health visitors to talk to families about safer sleep and to provide them with information and support that takes their individual and family circumstances into account.”

This comes as cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) which infects the lungs, have surged recently among infants.

In the week ending October 23, all cases of RSV increased by 8.3 per cent, according to the Health Service Journal (HSJ).

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