Officials in Scotland are investigating a mystery surge in deaths of newborn babies, the second time the phenomenon has been reported in about six months.
The probe was started after 18 infants died in their first four weeks of life in March, which caused the mortality rate to surpass a set threshold and trigger an investigation, Public Health Scotland (PHS) confirmed to local media outlets. In September 2021, 21 babies died in their first four weeks of life, similarly triggering an investigation.
PHS appeared to rule out COVID-19 as a cause for the mysterious deaths, noting that infections in mothers or infants “[did] not appear to have played a role,” according to The Herald newspaper. In September, the agency also said that COVID-19 infections “did not appear to have played a role” in the deaths at the time.
A spokeswoman for Scotland’s Government confirmed the investigations as well in statements to The Herald.
“We are working with PHS, the Scottish National Neonatal Network, and the Maternity and Children Quality Improvement Collaborative to understand any possible contributing factors to ensure we continue to improve the care of the smallest and sickest babies in Scotland,” the spokesperson said.
There will be individual investigations into each day as part of the agency’s policies, which are intended to “improve approaches to the review of adverse events, such as these, in maternity and neonatal settings,” the statement added.
“Each of the losses reflected in the information reported is a tragedy for those involved,” the statement said “The review processes to identify and mitigate any contributing factors are being led by the responsible agencies, and are ongoing. Public Health Scotland will continue to monitor data on neonatal health outcomes to inform and support this work.”
Dr. Sarah Stock, an expert in maternal and fetal medicine at Edinburgh University who led a study regarding COVID-19 and pregnancies in her country, told the news outlet that “the numbers are really troubling,” noting that officials don’t know the cause yet.
“What we do know is that it’s not neonatal COVID … the rates of COVID-19 infection in babies are very low and deaths from COVID are thankfully very, very small, so this isn’t COVID affecting babies,” Stock commented.
But, she added, “we can’t forget that it might be other causes altogether, so it’s really important that we investigate.”
The agency did not make any references to COVID-19 vaccinations in either the March or September spate of infant deaths. Scotland has vaccinated 91.8 percent of its population over 18, according to public health data. The Epoch Times has contacted PHS for comment.