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Language linked to deaths at childbirth

A LACK of adequate translation services has been cited as an issue in the deaths of 10 non-national women who died giving birth here.

A report says 40pc of deaths linked to pregnancy occurred in women born abroad.

The Confidential Maternal Death Enquiry (MDE) said translation services should be developed to ensure that the care of any patient "is not compromised by lack of communication and misunderstanding".

"These challenges need ongoing review," it said.


The report for 2009-11 showed that there were 25 deaths, 10 involving women born abroad.

For the past four years, MDE Ireland has investigated why some women die during or shortly after pregnancy, and to learn how such tragedies can be avoided in the future.

Health Minister Dr James Reilly said in the Dail recently: "It is important to state that no matter what definitions are used or how case ascertainment is conducted, that Ireland continues to be a very safe country for a woman to give birth in and our safety record compares favourably with other developed countries."

The latest World Health Statistics Annual report showed that Ireland had the 13th-lowest rate of maternal mortality out of 178 countries reporting data.

However, Dr Reilly said: "It is generally recognised internationally that official vital statistics can result in an underestimate of maternal deaths.

"In particular, indirect obstetric deaths resulting from previous existing diseases or diseases which developed during the pregnancy may be missed in the official statistics," he said.

Ireland's MDE system was established for this reason, he explained.

Meanwhile, to improve standardisation and to drive service quality, the HSE's National Clinical Programme in obstetrics and gynaecology has been working on the development of national clinical guidelines.

To date, 20 guidelines have been developed, eight are under review and a further 20 have been commissioned.