Researchers estimate the scans at 36 weeks to help detect babies in the breech position would avoid 4,000 emergency caesareans and eight baby deaths a year in England.
Methods for detecting babies in breech position through physical external examination are not always reliable and many breech births are not identified until during labour by which time risks have arisen and management options are more limited.
Whilst there is a cost attached to offering additional routine scans, the research demonstrates significant benefits and those costs are also likely to be offset by reductions in the number of mothers and babies requiring critical care.
Based on my own experience as a clinical negligence solicitor, I also strongly suspect that the risk of a breech births is just one of many complications and difficulties that could be detected and avoided if scans were routinely offered provided to all mothers at 36 weeks.
In addition to detecting babies in the risky breech position, scans at 36 weeks would also help identify a number of other problems in relation to the size and position of the baby, the health of the baby and issues with the placenta. These are factors that may otherwise go undetected, particularly in otherwise low risk pregnancies, but that if and identified and managed appropriately can save lives and avoid life-changing injuries such as brain damage, cerebral palsy and brachial plexus nerve damage.
If you are concerned about maternity care or other treatment which you, you child or a loved one has received, then please contact Catherine Bell on 01865 781140 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, informal discussion about your circumstances and how we may be able to help you.
Catherine is a Senior Associate in the clinical negligence department specialising in birth and obstetric injuries including brain injuries and cerebral palsy.
The Freeths national clinical negligence team is headed by:
Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes) 0186 578 1019 email@example.com
Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke) 0845 272 5677 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester/Nottingham) on 0845 272 5724 email@example.com
"Breech deliveries have some risk, and counselling and decision-making in labour can be challenging. Scans are routinely available now, and minimal skills are required to determine breech presentation. This should be implemented."