Pregnancy danger as 23,000 had no access to scans
Around 23,000 pregnant women did not have access to a 20-week scan last year, the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists revealed yesterday.
The organisation's chairman Dr Peter Boylan and Dr Louise Kenny said the figures are based on their own survey carried out in the last two weeks.
They told the Oireachtas health committee that without nationwide access to these scans pregnant women are receiving "inadequate or inappropriate care".
The committee was told that this impacts on clinical outcomes and can have "devastating consequences".
Dr Boylan said: "For example, babies with undiagnosed structural anomalies such as cardiac defects will be born outside centres of paediatric surgery and will require emergency ex-utero transfer to Dublin immediately after birth.
"For some babies, this will significantly decrease their chance of survival.
"In other cases, an absence of ultrasound means that the opportunity of in-utero fetal therapy will be missed and babies will die of potentially treatable conditions." A lack of ultrasound also has detrimental effects on maternal health.
"Women will continue to have unnecessary caesarean sections and other interventions for infants who cannot survive.
"Families will continue to be deprived of prenatal palliative care, to enable them to prepare for their baby's death.
"Obstetricians will continue to deal with unexpectedly bad outcomes at sometimes extremely complicated deliveries.
"We are expected to explain to parents how a major anomaly was not diagnosed and to assist parents in dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic delivery."