New research suggesting that giving women a third scan at the end of their pregnancy has been welcomed by a member of Dutton Gregory Solicitors’ Medical Negligence team, Claire Henderson.
Recommendations in the report suggest that a third scan could dramatically reduce the number of unexpected breech births and the risk of babies being born with severe health problems – cases that Claire is all too familiar with.
“Babies will often turn during pregnancy, but most will move into the head-down position by the time labour begins,” Claire explains. “However, this does not always happen and in some cases the baby may be bottom first, known as the ‘breech’ position.”
“In this position the baby is at increased risk of being admitted to the neonatal unit with a brain injury due to lack of oxygen. Currently around 4% of babies are unexpectedly in a breech position at the end of the pregnancy.”
Routine scans to check the progress of a pregnancy are currently at 12 and 20 weeks in the UK, with only women who are at risk of a complicated pregnancy being offered an extra scan during the third trimester.
The new study led by Prof. Asma Khalil has shown that babies of women who had the third ultrasound scan were 16% less likely to be admitted to the neonatal unit for closer monitoring, and between 40% and 77% less likely to have a low Apgar score (a tool used to measure the wellbeing of the baby).
“For the first time we’ve shown that just one extra scan could save mothers-to-be from trauma, an emergency C-section, and their babies from having severe health complications which could otherwise have been prevented,” Prof. Khalil has said.
“This research comes at a time when there is a spotlight on safety of maternity services and provides the NHS with a clear solution to help enable maternity units better prepare for safer healthier births”.
Whether this suggestion will become common practice remains to be seen but the UK National Screening Committee has received a proposal, is keeping abreast of developments and will review the situation in due course.
“In my experience, the effects of having a child born with a brain injury are far-reaching and have a profound effect, not only for the child but for the whole family,” says Claire. “This is why I am proud to act for families who are affected by children born with injuries as a result of negligence, and also fully support the proposal of a further scan during the third trimester which would likely reduce the number of people who find themselves in this position.”