THE death of a child at any age is unimaginable for parents, but losing a baby to stillbirth is even more horrific.

Having carried a baby for at least 24 weeks ­— the clinical difference between miscarriage and stillbirth ­— the mother must then go through delivery, knowing that she is giving birth to a child she will never meet.

All the hopes and dreams she and her family had for their new arrival have been snatched away.

And they spend the rest of their lives agonising about what they could have done differently to avoid the tragedy.

It is such a sensitive and important issue that The Royal Bolton Hospital has pulled out all the stops to reduce the stillbirth rate in the town.

The drive has reduced the rate from 12 in 1,000 births to 3.5 and there were no stillbirths at all in January.

The dedicated neo-natal and maternity team at the hospital are doing everything they can to reduce the chances of a stillbirth.

They are helping mums-to-be to stop smoking, as well as advising them about sleeping patterns and what food to avoid during their pregnancy.

They are professionals, but even they cannot help being affected by a stillbirth, making them even more determined to do everything they can to prevent it happening.

The hospital has done a tremendous job in bringing down the stillbirth rate and is providing a first-class service to Bolton and the surrounding area.