Giving pregnant women a third routine scan could cut the number of dangerous breech births by 70 per cent, research shows
- Experts say it’d significantly reduce labour complications for mother and baby
- Pregnant women are currently given routine scans at 12 and 20 weeks
Pregnant women should be offered a routine scan at the end of pregnancy to reduce breech births and save lives, according to research.
Adding a third routine scan at 36 to 37 weeks would bring down the number of babies born breech – feet or bottom first – by 70 per cent.
Experts say it would significantly reduce complications for mother and baby during labour as well as the number of women needing emergency caesareans.
They are calling on health watchdog NICE to change its guidelines so all pregnant women are offered a scan in their third trimester.
Women are given routine scans at 12 and 20 weeks, with only those at high risk due to health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure offered further screening.
Pregnant women should be offered a routine scan at the end of pregnancy to reduce breech births and save lives, according to research. Pictured: Stock image of pregnant woman
But around 4 per cent of babies are unexpectedly in a breech position at the end of pregnancy, putting them at increased risk of brain injury or death due to a lack of oxygen.
Doctors compared the rate of unexpected breech births and the health of the newborn baby after different third trimester scan policies were introduced at St George’s University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (SGUH) and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH).
Both types of third trimester ultrasound scan dramatically reduced the rate of unexpected breech births by 71 and 69 per cent at SGUH and NNUH respectively.
Babies of women who had the third ultrasound were 16 per cent less likely to be admitted to the neonatal unit for closer monitoring, according to the findings published in Plos Medicine.
They were also 40-77 per cent less likely to have a low Apgar score at five minutes after being born, which assesses appearance and the baby’s wellbeing.
Professor Asma Khalil, of St George’s, University of London, who led the study, said: ‘Our research comes at a time when there’s a spotlight on the safety of maternity services and provides the NHS with a clear solution to help enable maternity units better prepare for safer, healthier births.’
The bonus of just six weeks breastfeeding:
Newborns who are breastfed for the first six weeks of life are a fifth less likely to have special educational needs or behavioural problems, a study reveals.
And those given a mixture of formula and breast milk were found to have a 10 per cent lower chance of developing special educational needs than babies given only formula.
For the study, University of Glasgow scientists analysed the data of 191,745 children born in Scotland from 2004.
Dr Michael Fleming, whose research was published in the journal Plos Medicine, said many women struggle to exclusively breastfeed for the six months recommended by the World Health Organisation. He said his research provides evidence that a shorter duration ‘could nonetheless be beneficial’.