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Stillbirth more likely with independent midwives, says study

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Scottish researchers have called for an urgent review into the way birth care is delivered in the UK.

The team from the University of Dundee studied 7,214 women who used NHS birth services between 2002 and 2005, and 1,462 who employed the services of a member of the Independent Midwives Association.

The researchers found that IMA mothers were more likely to experience a stillbirth or neonatal death than NHS mothers – 1.7% compared to 0.5%. However, NHS babies were far more likely to be premature and admitted to a neonatal ICU than IMA babies, said the researchers, led by Andrew Symon, senior lecturer at the university’s school of nursing and midwifery.

A full review would provide women with further evidence on which to base decisions about pregnancy care and delivery, they said in the BMJ.

RCM general secretary Cathy Warwick said: ‘Midwives, and women using independent midwives should be informed of the results of this research. It will then be up to the woman to make an informed decision where they give birth and who delivers her care.

‘It is also important to note that currently because of insurance issues, independent midwives are often unable to deliver women who book with them in hospital. It is important that the NHS is supportive where an independent midwife needs to transfer a woman to hospital,’ she added.

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