JSNA topic report: children and young people
5. Infant and maternal health
Overall, Buckinghamshire’s birth outcomes are either favourable (with lower rates of preterm birth) or at least equivalent (with similar infant mortality and low birthweight rates) to comparator areas.
The percentage of term births (37+ weeks) where the birth weight was low (less than 2500g) in 2020 was 2.9% (150 births) in Buckinghamshire. This is not significantly different to England (2.9%) or the South-East at 2.6%. There has not been a significant change in the percentage of infants (at term) born at low birthweight in Buckinghamshire over the last 5 years.
The percentage of all births where the birth weight was low (less than 2500g) in 2020 was 6.8% (376 births) in Buckinghamshire. This is not significantly different to England (6.9%) and is higher than the South East at 6.2% and CIPFA neighbours at 6.1%. The recent trend over the last 5 years shows no significant change.
However, there is evidence that outcomes differ in the county according to deprivation, with higher proportions of low birthweight infants in the most deprived compared to least deprived areas.
Within Buckinghamshire, the proportion of term births with a low birth weight was similar in the least deprived (deprivation quintile 1) and most deprived (deprivation quintile 5) quintiles from 2018 to 2020. However, in 2021 the most deprived quintile saw an increase and the proportion of term births with a low birth weight is now significantly higher compared to the other quintiles, suggesting a widening in inequalities locally since 2020.
There are less maternal risk factors for adverse perinatal outcomes identified in Buckinghamshire compared to nationally, for example with lower smoking rates at delivery.
In 2020/21, Buckinghamshire had a significantly lower percentage of women smoking at time of delivery compared with England. This was 6.1% (306 smokers) and 9.6% respectively. It was also lower than the South-East average at 9.0%.
There was a significant reduction in mothers smoking at time of delivery in 2020/21, during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is also reflected in the trends seen nationally.
The percentage of infants being breastfed at 6-8 weeks of age in Buckinghamshire was 58.3% (3,030 infants) in 2020/21. This was significantly higher than England at 47.6%.
In 2017/18 it was estimated in Buckinghamshire that 137 women suffered with severe depressive illness in the perinatal period. Within Buckinghamshire there has also been a doubling of mental health referrals for mothers in pregnancy between 2019 (359) and 2021 (719) potentially indicative of increasing levels of adverse mental health in this population. Anxiety and depression were the most common causes of mental ill-health and low mood had also increased.
The under 18s conception rate for Buckinghamshire in 2020 was 5.8 per 1,000 females aged 15-17 compared to the statistical neighbours at 8.0 per 1,000 and the South East at 10.6 per 1,000. It is significantly lower than England at 13 per 1,000 females. Figure 5 shows a significantly decreasing trend for Buckinghamshire over the last 5 years.
Under 18s conception rate per 1,000 females aged 15 to 17
Source: Office for National Statistics (ONS), Office for Health Improvement & Disparities, Public Health Profiles, 2022.