About us

Southend Hospital first in region to offer third baby scan as standard in bid to reduce stillbirth

14 December 2015

Health Care

Stillbirth, it’s an emotive and powerful subject that is the cruellest of misfortunes for mums and dads.

The numbers of stillbirths at Southend University Hospital is below the national average and now Southend has pledged to help cut even further the risks of stillbirth by offering mums-to-be an extra scan as standard.

This new move, the first in the East of England and only one of the few in the country, is estimated to cut the number of stillbirths at the hospital in half. Added to the 11-14 weeks first trimester screening and 20 week anomaly scan there will now be an added scan at the 36 week period.

Colleen Begg, head of midwifery & clinical director for women and children at Southend, said: "One stillbirth is one too many, we see about one stillbirth a month here so with this extra screening at 36 weeks as standard we expect to be able to save up to seven lives. We know that about 60% stillbirths after 34 weeks are due to insufficient blood flow to baby and this can be prevented if diagnosis is made by scan earlier.

This extra scan has many advantages: it will help to diagnose any problems with growth restrictions, it will also help to diagnose babies that are in breech position and wouldn't otherwise be diagnosed until late in labour and it will also be able to tell hospital staff where the placenta is lying.

Colleen added: "The figures are compelling and really do speak for themselves. We'll be starting this addition to our service imminently and will be proud to be the very first to offer this life-saving service in our region. It's a no brainer from a medical point of view and from a family point of view.

"The scan at 36 weeks will be performed by our sonographers, so our patients couldn't be in better hands. If any problem with growth of baby is identified then an appointment with a fetal medicine consultant will be arranged"

Colleen was also keen to point out that mums-to-be would automatically get the scan at 36 weeks but that if they required more they would receive as many as were needed to track the progress of mum and baby.

She concluded: "If mother or baby are deemed high risk then they will still get the extra scans they would have had. This will not replace scans offered to women for reassurance due to previous pregnancy loss, those with multiple pregnancy or fetal medicine referrals."

Mr Mandeep Singh, Subspecialist maternal fetal medicine consultant at Southend, said: "The credit of change in strategy goes to the management of the hospital, they have actually expanded services and are attempting to reduce stillbirth.

"There is enough evidence to suggest that this scan will help reduce stillbirth however we know that on average it will take at least 20 years before evidence becomes routine practice. The management of Southend Hospital have taken a bold step of directly attacking the stillbirth rate by introducing this scan."