A spike in the number of deaths of newborn babies in Scotland is to be investigated.
At least 21 babies under four weeks old died in September, a rate of 4.9 per 1,000 births.
Infant death rates vary widely from month to month, but the increase is larger than expected from chance alone.
Public Health Scotland (PHS) and other agencies will now look into whether the Covid pandemic or other factors could be behind the increase.
The average mortality rate among newborns is just over two per 1,000 births.
PHS is now working with the Scottish National Neonatal Network , the Maternity and Children Quality Improvement Collaborative and the Scottish government to understand possible contributing factors.
Figures for the number of stillborn babies also increased in September but not beyond the upper warning or control limit.
Deaths of newborn babies have fallen steadily in recent decades with the mortality rate per 1,000 births dropping from double figures in the 1970s to 2.1 in 2020.
Vaccine related? The timeline doesn’t lie. The first vaccine was given on December 8, 2020. Nine months later Scotland is investigating baby deaths.