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Action urged over pregnancy deaths

Leading doctors are calling for action over the "worrying" number of women in the UK dying in pregnancy and shortly after delivery.

A rise in the number of "high risk" pregnancies, including older and obese mothers, means women can suffer a complex mix of health problems, they said.

Nevertheless, most deaths are now caused by preventable or treatable medical conditions and doctors, including GPs, need to be on their guard, they added.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Catherine Nelson-Piercy, professor of obstetric medicine at King's College London, and colleagues called for an increase in the number of obstetric physicians and better training for GPs.

While the overall number of deaths has decreased since the 1950s, there has been a rise in the number dying from conditions not directly caused by pregnancy - which represents a "worrying trend".

The leading cause of maternal death is heart disease while the second is neurological disease.

Most of these deaths are associated with substandard care and "in one third of cases this is classified as major substandard care, where different care might have prevented death of the mother", they added.

"These failings require urgent attention," they said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "We are committed to ensuring that every woman gets safe and quality maternity services. Over the last decade we have seen a 46.6% increase in the number of doctors in obstetrics and gynaecology and a 64.4% increase in consultants.

"The obstetrician training curriculum is developed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and approved by the General Medical Council. Doctors completing training are assessed against all elements in the curriculum so that they can deliver care to a high standard in both normal and complicated pregnancies."


From Belfast Telegraph