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Benefit of a routine scan at 36 weeks

View profile for Saira Walji
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A routine scan at 36 weeks during pregnancy can reduce the number of unexpected breech births

Currently, pregnant women in England undergo routine scans at 12 and 20 weeks, with no routine scan offered in the third (final) trimester.

Only pregnant women considered to be at risk of a complicated pregnancy may undergo further scans and observations.

What is a breech birth?

Babies lying bottom first or feet first in the uterus instead of the usual head down position are called breech babies. Breech position is common in early pregnancy, however by 37 weeks of pregnancy most babies turn naturally into the head down position. Currently, around 4% of births in England are breech births. 

Can the number of breech births be reduced?

At 36 weeks, an ultrasound scan can detect how the baby is positioned for birth. If a breech presentation is detected, non-surgical attempts can be made to turn the baby into a head down position.

As part of a study, 7,351 women received a third trimester scan at 36 weeks at St George’s University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and 4,575 underwent the scan at 36 weeks at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. 

The study showed that having an additional scan at 36 weeks during pregnancy reduced the number of unexpected breech births by around 70%. The researchers hope that these findings will lead to a change in NICE guidelines so that all pregnant women are offered a third trimester scan.

Whether the NICE guidelines implement a third trimester scan for all pregnant women is yet to be seen.

If you or a loved one has suffered a birth injury due to negligence of a medical or healthcare professional, we may be able to help you pursue a claim for compensation. Feel free to get in touch with us for a free no obligation discussion on 0121 355 0011.