Babies born at night are three times more likely to suffer health problems or death, due to hospital staffing shortages.
A lack of senior consultants and midwives during the night hours puts babies at a high risk, doctors warn.
Children born between 5pm and 9am and at the weekends are a third more likely to die. This is often because the baby is not monitored closely enough for any warning signs, when they're still in the womb.
The staff on call during these hours are often exhausted and inexperienced, so they may miss breathing problems a newborn may be experiencing during labour. A distressed baby may then have to go through a fatal natural labour rather than a Caesarean.
The statistics come from a study of a million births between 2985 and 2004 by the researchers at the University of Cambridge. It found the death rate for babies born in the working week was 4.2 per 10,000 deliveries, which rises to 5.6 for any other time.
The study was carried out in Scotland, but researchers believe the results would be similar in England where we face similar issues with staff shortage.
At the moment many of the highly paid consultants, who earn on average £110,000 a year, are resistant to working unsociable hours, and these shifts are therefore covered by less senior staff.
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Source: Daily Mail