Saturday 15 December 2018

Calls in UK to ban 'over the counter' sales of baby heartbeat detectors

Calls for new regulations over the sale and use of fetal dopplers

New bill would ensure medical professionals were the ones responsible for fetal health
New bill would ensure medical professionals were the ones responsible for fetal health Newsdesk Newsdesk

A Tory politician has called for new regulation over the sale and use of fetal dopplers, warning there was evidence they could "falsely reassure" parents about the health of their unborn baby.

Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury) told MPs in the Commons the sale of the over-the-counter devices was "on the rise" despite warnings from medical professionals.

The MP, who broke down in the Commons in 2015 as she spoke about losing her own baby, said the UK was ranked 114 out of 164 countries in terms of progress made in reducing stillbirths, and "serious concerns" had been raised about the use of fetal dopplers.

She said: "However, we are languishing behind other developed countries in our stillbirth rates and that must change. It is in this context that I hope to get the House's support to regulate the sale of home dopplers, devices that allow pregnant mothers to listen to heartbeat of their baby."

The MP said there was evidence that the devices could "falsely reassure" people about the health of their baby, adding: "We must place that responsibility in the hands of medical professionals and encourage mothers to respond to changes in movements of their baby, rather than devices that can be brought over the counter for £30."

She added: "Whilst I can absolutely understand the attraction for parents wanting to hear their baby's heartbeat, the sale of these devices is on the rise despite warnings from medical professionals."

She went on: "The problem with these devices is that anything that moves inside the abdomen, whether it be the baby kicking, whether it's air moving in the mother's intestines or blood flowing in the arteries, is translated into a sound and it requires expert training to be able to detect a baby's heartbeat."

Read more: Baby heartbeat detectors should be banned, says pregnancy charity

The Department of Health in the UK, she argued, needed to look at how regulation could improve the monitoring of babies' health and the sale of such devices.

Her Fetal Dopplers (Regulation) Bill, she said, would introduce a licensing system in England and Wales to ensure medical professionals were the ones responsible for fetal health, adding "with such verification we can remove dopplers from the high street shelves and encourage more responsible practice and use of fetal dopplers".

Her Bill, which has cross-party support, was listed for a second reading on January 19 next year, but is unlikely to become law due to a lack of parliamentary time.

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