Lack of Routine Pregnancy Scans Highlighted


One in four Irish maternity units do not offer pregnant women a foetal anomaly ultrasound, which is considered a routine part of antenatal care in other countries, a new study has shown. Researchers at University College Cork (UCC) found there has been no expansion of maternity ultrasound services in the past decade, and warned substantial investment in the area was required.


All 19 obstetric units in the country were surveyed as part of the study, which found that a foetal anomaly scan was offered universally to all women in just seven of these. They were offered selectively to some women in another seven of the units, while foetal anomaly scans were not offered at all in the remaining five maternity units.


Last year, around one-third of pregnant women were not offered routine foetal anomaly scans; while three of the units surveyed had no dedicated maternity ultrasound department.


The research paper noted a foetal anomaly ultrasound was part of the “widely accepted minimal schedule” of antenatal scans internationally, and was “a recognised and necessary component of good antenatal care”.


“If a foetal anomaly is detected, planned delivery of the infant at the right time and in the correct place can be facilitated... which may ultimately reduce neonatal morbidity and mortality,” stated the report. “Diagnosis can also provide adequate time to psychologically prepare parents for the challenges of the pregnancy.”


The authors noted their findings were similar to previous studies conducted in 2007 and 2012, demonstrating there has been no expansion in maternity ultrasound services in the past decade.

Irish Independent. August 10.

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