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‘Big baby’ study hopes to predict need for C-section


There is confusion surrounding maternity benefit

There is confusion surrounding maternity benefit

There is confusion surrounding maternity benefit

AN innovative study that hopes to predict the risk of new mothers needing a caesarean section is seeking first-time mums for a nationwide trial.

The Genesis study will look at the head size of unborn babies to assess the chances of new mums needing C-sections.

Lead researcher Naomi Burke said the use of foetal head circumference (FHC) could prove vital in identifying women who might need an unplanned caesarean section.

The study will measure the foetal head size using ultrasound late in the third trimester. It will look at whether foetal head circumference alone or in combination with other factors can identify women who might need an unplanned C-section.

Dr Burke added that preliminary data pointed to a significant correlation between foetal head size and the need for caesareans.

“The results so far are pretty good. We’re collecting a lot of other data, including the weight of the baby and mother, and ideally we want to make up a mathematical model which can predict the need for caesareans,” she explained.


The study is focusing on first-time mums at the end of their pregnancy, in the 39th or 40th week of gestation, and attending their last assessment.

“It’s difficult to predict at the moment who will require an emergency caesarean section with the data we currently look at - the weight of the baby prior to delivery can be quite unreliable,” she said.

“Now we are focusing on data that hasn’t been looked at before and we’re hoping the head circumference will be a more reliable measurement.”

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It will also look at maternal factors including weight to see how it can influence the labour and delivery. A total of 1,800 women have already signed up to the nationwide trial, which aims to look at 2,500 mums-to-be at seven different sites across Ireland by November or December.

This study is being carried out by Perinatal Ireland, a consortium whose aim is to improve women’s and children’s health. For more information about participation in the study email perinatalireland@rcsi.ie.


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