A charity has warned that hundreds of twins and triplets are dying or suffering severe disabilities such as cerebral palsy because so many hospitals are ignoring clinical birth guidelines.
The Twins and Multiple Births Association (Tamba) said that “multiples” account for 7.4% of stillbirths and 18.4% of deaths within a baby’s first month of life - despite only making up 3% of all births each year.
The number of twins and triplets born each year is rising, with nearly 11,000 multiple births recorded in 2013 compared with a little over 8,500 20 years ago.
This is believed to be due in part to the increased use of IVF treatment and the rise in the number of women choosing to have children later in life.
Sadly, however, more than 500 babies die shortly before or after a multiple birth each year and such babies are six times more likely to develop cerebral palsy. Multiple births account for one in ten maternity cases handled by the NHS litigation authority.
In 2011, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) introduced new clinical guidelines in an attempt to reduce the risks associated with multiple births.
Under the NICE guidelines, mothers must be attended by a midwife who is experienced in the delivery of multiple babies, sonographers should be trained in scanning for twins or more babies and an obstetrician should be on hand during labor in the event surgery is needed.
Research by Tamba, however, has revealed that less than one in five maternity wards across the UK had introduced the guidelines.
We know that multiple birth pregnancies carry a significantly higher risk of birth injury than normal pregnancies and as such it is extremely alarming that so many hospitals are failing to implement these guidelines.
It is crucial that maternity units adopt these guidelines and step up their monitoring of mothers expecting multiples to ensure they receive the best possible care, as well as access to accurate information about delivery methods and postnatal wellbeing.
Put simply, by failing to implement the latest clinical birth guidance, maternity units across the country are putting the lives of hundreds of twins, triplets and higher multiples at risk.
By employing nationally recognised best practice and a multi- disciplinary approach involving midwives, obstetricians and ultra-sonographers, maternity units can hopefully identify and manage complications early and help reduce the number of families having to endure the unimaginable heartbreak of losing one or more of their babies.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers can provide immediate representation and rehabilitation support anywhere in the UK. If mother or baby were injured during pregnancy or child birth due to clinical or medical negligence, call our Medical Negligence Solicitors for a free consultation on 0808 175 8105 or you can contact us online and we will call you.