Most baby deaths among twins are preventable, says Leicester professor

Mums giving birth to twins need better medical care to save more lives, according to a Leicester professor.

Elizabeth Draper, professor of perinatal and paediatric epidemiology at the University of Leicester, described losing a child as one of the most “unbearable and painful ordeals a parent can endure” and said deaths of babies in the case of twins were usually preventable.

She and a University of Birmingham professor studied the cases of 50 sets of twins, all born since 2017, which involved the death of either one or both of the twins.

She said five in every six cases had obvious care failings and half of the cases had “major” issues.

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She said: “We identified major sub-optimal issues in antenatal and follow-up care in half of the pregnancies we reviewed and for half of the women in the inquiry.

“Many of these deaths may have been prevented had better care been provided.”

They concluded that improvements in care for the mothers could have made a difference to the eventual outcome in 64 per cent of cases, while better care of the babies could have made a difference in 54 per cent of cases.

The experts examined care provided during pregnancy, labour and birth, as well as care for the babies once they were born and bereavement support following death.

They found issues with the quality and frequency of ultrasound scans and a lack of contact with specialised health professionals, as well as poor bereavement care, especially in cases where one baby survived.

Birmingham professor Jenny Kurinczuk, director of the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit and joint author of the report, said: “In general the care provided to this group of mothers and their babies was poor.”

She called for all twin pregnancies to have access to expert multidisciplinary care with experts in multiple pregnancies.

She said it was also vital that the existing guidance from the medical agency Nice (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) was always followed.

She said: “The single most important action which needs to be taken is for the Nice guidance relating to twins to be followed and specialist multiple pregnancy clinics to be established.”

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