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21 breech births not detected at hospital


Twenty-one breech babies went undiagnosed over a two -year period at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

The figures included one case in which a baby died, an internal audit has found.

It has emerged that the audit was prompted by the baby's death in 2013, and two further complaints last year from parents who were unhappy that their baby's breech position went undiagnosed by staff.

Babies born in a breech position are born with the buttocks or feet first, as opposed to the head. Some studies have shown there is a risk to babies born in this position.

Natural breech births are possible, but many are delivered by caesarean section.

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital confirmed that a baby died at birth in 2013 in a case that involved an undiagnosed breech at the time of delivery.

The HSE said in a statement that undiagnosed breeches at the hospital have fallen significantly since the audit's recommendations were put in place.

The hospital instigated a serious incident review following the baby's death in 2013. According to the hospital, the review's recommendations related to the length of time involved in getting emergency cases to surgery.

However, a full-scale audit was triggered after the hospital received two more complaints last year in which parents complained that their baby's breech position was missed.

The hospital's risk management committee conducted a retrospective two-year audit of all births, which identified 21 cases of undiagnosed breeches.


The HSE said the number of undiagnosed breeches has "significantly reduced" since.

The audit involved "visits to the Rotunda Hospital" to review their experience of undiagnosed breeches and recommended improved clinical practices.

The HSE said that there will always be a percentage of women who present with an undiagnosed breech in labour.

"Based on international evidence, a percentage of breech cases will be missed," the HSE stated.