A team of obstetricians, midwives and sonographers at MYHT in Wakefield and Dewsbury have recently launched a project to ensure early detection of foetal growth restriction (FGR) - which is an important risk factor for stillbirth - for women and their babies receiving care at their hospitals.
Detection of FGR during pregnancy is vital and has been shown to reduce stillbirth risk significantly, allowing medical professionals and expectant parents the option to consider timely delivery of babies at risk.
Before this project was introduced, clinicians would rely on a patient’s history alone to try to identify pregnancies at risk of FGR.
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Len Richards, chief executive of the MYHT, said: “The driving force behind this project was to reduce the risk of stillbirth and provide the best care for expectant mothers.
“MYHT employees are compassionate, hard-working and committed to offering expert care.
“The success of the project was down to multi-disciplinary collaboration, adherence to governance processes, effective communications and engagement between departments, and the willingness of all involved to devote their time and energy into upping their skills.
“I am proud to work with such dedicated colleagues.”
Following training, development and additional recruitment, the team has introduced an additional scan at approximately 22-23 weeks for women who were considered as having a high-risk pregnancy, to look at blood flow to the placenta using a uterine artery - a blood vessel that supplies blood to the uterus - doppler measurement.
This scan helps the team assign urgent care to women with abnormal blood flow results and allows the service to offer additional growth scans later in the woman’s pregnancy at 28, 32, 36 and 40 weeks.
The scan also identifies women at a higher risk of developing pre-eclampsia during pregnancy.
Women with normal blood flow results following the additional scan will still receive further scans at 32, 36 and 40 weeks.
The additional foetal growth scanning better identifies the women who have later onset FGR, who previously may have been missed.
This new way of working allows women with low risk pregnancies to receive shared care within their community, while identifying pregnancies at the very highest risk who may need intervention; such as induction of labour or early caesarean section.
The process also minimises the need for intervention for women and babies who do not need it.