Plaid Cymru raises concerns over low baby birth weights

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Antenatal drive needed to support expectant mothers

Plaid Cymru has called on the Welsh Government to improve support given to expectant mothers as figures show that one in twenty babies born in Wales have a low birth weight.

The ONS figures show that the number of babies born in Wales with a low birth weight is persistently high, at more than 5%. The 2016 level is 5.4%. Comparatively, the number of babies in Scotland born “small for gestational age” has been reduced by half to 2.5% over the last decade.

Evidence shows a correlation between low birth weights and social circumstance, and is associated with poorer health outcomes throughout the child’s life, including a higher risk of long term conditions such as diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care Rhun ap Iorwerth called on the Welsh Government to improve health services given to women from socially complex, high risk groups who are most at risk of carrying a baby of low birth weight.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“Plaid Cymru wants to give every child in Wales the very best start, but the figures show that a persistently high proportion of babies are born with a low birth weight.

“Research tells us that there is a correlation between maternal health and social factors such as poverty and deprivation, and is associated with long term health conditions for the child. This suggests that there are deep-rooted problems that the Welsh Government is failing to deal with.

“Scotland has made headway on this matter by implementing a range of NHS services, including the promotion of health, screening and prevention, to clinical treatment and care. As a result the number of small for gestational age babies born has fallen to 2.5%, half of the Welsh figure.

“The Welsh Government needs to follow suit. Wales has some of the most deprived areas in Europe so it’s no surprise that we face the challenges associated to deprivation, and unless the Welsh Government redoubles its efforts to break the link between deprivation and poor life prospects, then our communities will continue to suffer. An antenatal care drive to improve the health of expectant mothers is an important step in addressing the problem of persistently low birth rates, but any progress must be coupled with a push to challenge the economic factors that are at the root of this problem.”

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