Seven maternal deaths recorded in 2014
Published 17/03/2016 | 02:30
Seven maternal deaths were recorded in maternity hospitals and units in 2014, according to the first HSE national maternity report.
The figures do not include deaths of women after discharge, so the real number is higher.
The report for the first time records activities such as caesarean sections and methods of birth in all 19 units.
It said overall the number of maternal deaths in Ireland remains relatively low by international comparison.
The figures should be treated with "extreme caution", it added. There were 65,987 babies delivered during the year and 1,255 involved multiple births, such as twins and triplets.
Six units had an incidence of multiple births above the national average and five of these had an IVF unit or clinic.
The perinatal death rate - deaths at or around the time of birth - was 6.05 per 1,000 births. This was not adjusted to exclude babies born with life-threatening birth defects.
It found that 62 babies underwent neonatal cooling which reduces the risk of brain damage.
The epidural rate was 40.8pc and 15.48pc of women had an instrumental delivery. Labour was induced in almost a third of women.
The national rate of caesarean section was 29.6pc and, as in other countries, this is increasing.
The report pointed out there were many possible reasons for the increase, including reductions in the risk of caesarean delivery, increasing legal actions and a rise in older women having babies. Fertility treatment also means more twins and triplets needed to be delivered in this way.
It found variations in the transfer of mothers to critical care in intensive care units and high dependency units.
It said some units use their labour ward or theatre recovery areas as a short-stay, higher dependency unit. Some admit patients with pre-eclampsia to their higher dependency unit while others treat pre-eclampsia at ward level.
The three maternity units had the highest rate of pregnant women transfers admitted due to concerns about the unborn baby. These hospitals have neonatal intensive care units and receive transfers from maternity units all around the country.
There were 356 of these "in utero" transfers in all during the year.