Rise in stillbirths during pandemic prompts safety review
The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) has begun a national review in England following a rise in stillbirths between April and June, during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, when there were 40 stillbirths recorded after the start of labour, compared with 24 in the same period last year.
Pregnancy and childbirth experts say this may have been due to a delay in women seeking care.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have said the figures are “concerning”, but are waiting for further data after the pandemic to compare stillbirth numbers over a longer timeframe.
Dr Edward Morris, president of the RCOG, said antenatal care was “essential” and urged all women to attend appointments.
In a recent survey of just under half of maternity units, 86% said fewer heavily pregnant women than usual had approached them with emergency issues in April, during lockdown.
Dr Morris said “This may have been due to confusion around whether these appointments are essential, fear of attending a hospital or not wanting to burden the NHS.
“We have consistently advised women who have concerns or worries about their or their baby’s health – including the baby’s movements – should seek medical advice from their midwife or hospital immediately.”
The RCOG is also undertaking a national investigation of the “potential indirect effects of Covid-19 on pregnancy outcomes” before and following childbirth.
In the meantime, it is urging hospitals to avoid redeploying maternity staff during the second wave of the pandemic.
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Posted by Tony May, Partner/head of Clinical Negligence Department, Chadwick Lawrence LLP ([email protected] ), medical negligence lawyers and clinical negligence solicitors in Huddersfield, Leeds, Wakefield and Halifax, West Yorkshire.
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