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03rd Jul 2019

Introducing a standard 3rd trimester ultrasound could save lives, new study finds

Trine Jensen-Burke


In Ireland, women are offered a scan at the end of the first trimester, when they are 12 gestational weeks pregnant, and then the second scan offered on the public health system is around 20 weeks.

In a normal, healthy pregnancy, no more scans are offered (on the public system).

However, new research out of Cambridge University in the UK is now arguing for an additional scan in the third trimester of pregnancy – to help lower the risk of breech birth.

According to their research, published in the University of Cambridge’s journal PLOS Medicinethis late-term scan would also help lower the number of c-section deliveries because of a breech presentation. 

According to experts, breech births are among the most compromising for women and babies with most presentations requiring complicated birth procedures, including an increased chance of c-section.


And now the researchers in the University of Cambridge study have collected some compelling stats in favour of a third scan.

In fact, they reckon 15,000 breech births could be avoided, 4,000 emergency c-sections and the deaths of up to eight babies a year could be prevented if this routine scan is implemented for pregnant women close to full term.

The proposed ultrasound for women at eight months pregnant would allow doctors to anticipate the likelihood of a breech birth ahead of time, at around 36-weeks gestation, and the Cambridge scientists felt the scan would save the public health system money by allowing doctors and physicians to manoeuvre the baby ahead of arrival, and bypass c-sections.