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10th Aug 2017

Quarter of maternity units don’t offer scans for foetal anomalies

The research was conducted by UCC.

Jade Hayden


One in four Irish maternity units do not offer pregnant women ultrasound scans for foetal abnormalities.

A report published in the Irish Medical Journal has shown that out of 19 obstetric units across the country, just seven of them offer the scan to all women.

Five units did not offer the scan at all.

Researchers say that ultrasound scan services in Ireland have not been expanded upon for almost a decade, despite these tests being the norm for many other countries around the world.

In the report, they said:

“If a foetal anomaly is detected, planned delivery of the infant at the right time and in the correct place can be facilitated (…) which may ultimately reduce neonatal morbidity and mortality.”

The report also stated that finding out about an anomaly earlier can help expectant mothers prepare for a potentially difficult pregnancy.


The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have been overtly in favour of introducing these tests for all women since the year 2000.

However, one-quarter of maternity units still do not offer the service.

Authors of the study have said that there needs to be a “substantial investment” in Ireland’s healthcare system to appropriately look after pregnant women.

“If we are serious about equity of care and access to specialist services for all Irish women, regardless of geographical location or financial means, there must now be substantial investment by healthcare policymakers.”

41,00 pregnant women in Ireland received a foetal abnormality scan in 2016.