Better NHS care of women pregnant with twins and triplets ‘will save 100 babies being stillborn a year’
- NHS hospitals’ failure to follow guidelines causes unnecessary C-sections
- The Twins and Multiple Births Association said it was ‘pot luck’ whether hospitals followed the guidelines
- Extra scans, specialised doctors and detailed care plans help mothers of twins
Poor care for women pregnant with twins and triplets is resulting in 100 stillbirths a year, research suggests.
NHS hospitals’ failure to follow official guidelines on multiple births is also responsible for 630 unnecessary C-sections and 1,300 infant admissions to intensive care each year, experts found.
Their research project, funded by the Department of Health, focused on ensuring 30 British maternity units followed official guidelines to the letter over a year. Experts found this vastly improved outcomes for twins, triplets and their mothers.
Poor care for women pregnant with multiple children is resulting in as many as 100 stillbirths a year
Guidelines published by the health watchdog Nice in 2013 laid out clear advice for doctors about how to treat high-risk multiple-birth pregnancies.
They include extra scans, using doctors and midwives who specialise in twin births, drawing up a detailed care plan, and having a point-by-point strategy for how to deal with a premature birth.
Signs of premature labour must be discussed with women by 24 weeks of pregnancy and discussions about delivery should occur by 32 weeks.
But the Twins and Multiple Births Association (Tamba), which ran the project on behalf of the Government, said it was ‘pot luck’ whether NHS hospitals followed the guidance.
They spent three years making sure the rules were being followed –and found it resulted in a 6 per cent reduction in neonatal intensive care admissions and a 3 per cent reduction in emergency C-sections.
Extra scans, using doctors and midwives who specialise in twin births, drawing up a detailed care plan, and having a point-by-point strategy for how to deal with a premature birth are recommended measures
They calculated that if all hospitals followed suit, stillbirths from multiple-birth pregnancies would fall 70 per cent by 2024, saving the lives of 100 babies a year across the UK. It would also save the NHS £8 million a year.
Keith Reed, chief executive of Tamba, said: ‘Following Nice guidance on multiple pregnancies works.
‘We urge the NHS to ensure local maternity teams are aware that this project can make a considerable contribution to meeting the Government’s ambition to reduce stillbirths, neonatal deaths and pre-term births.’
The Department of Health said: ‘As part of the NHS long-term plan, the number of stillbirth and neonatal deaths over the next five years is planned to halve.
‘Tamba’s excellent research demonstrates how many lives can be saved when the NHS follows latest clinical guidelines.’