Late pregnancy scans could lessen risks and save NHS money

As reported by the Shropshire Star, scanning pregnant women at 36 weeks could help identify breech babies early and cut down risks – as well as cutting costs

According to a new study, giving pregnant women an additional, routine scan at 36 weeks could actually save money as well as reducing risk.

Scanning women in late pregnancy could avoid thousands of unplanned caesarean sections, the research shows.

This is according to a study published in PLOS Medicine, which goes on to say that the 36-week scan could detect babies that are incorrectly positioned.

Normally, midwives simply check by feeling the abdomen. However, the additional scan could end up further reducing complications and saving NHS money.

The study’s team, made up of researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of East Anglia (UEA), performed ultrasounds at 36 weeks in 3,879 women in England having their first child.

They discovered breech positions in 179 women (4.6%).

In more than half of these cases (55%), a breech presentation had not previously been suspected.

Dr Ed Wilson, from UEA’s health economics group, said: “We estimate that UK-wide routine scanning could prevent around 15,000 undiagnosed breech presentations, more than 4,000 emergency caesarean sections and between seven and eight baby deaths per year.

“We also looked into the costs of additional scans and found that, if scans could be done for less than £12.90 each, it could be cost-saving to the NHS.

“If ultrasound screening could be provided at such a low cost, for example by making it a part of a standard midwife appointment, routinely offering ultrasound scans could well represent a good use of NHS resources.”

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