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Pregnancy: Ethnic Groups

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 159098, tabled on 25 April 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will review whether the NHS's determination of full term gestation appropriately accounts for different ethnic minority gestation periods.

Answered on

28 April 2022

There are no current plans to do so. Gestational age is measured in weeks, from the first day of the woman's last menstrual cycle to the current date. Pregnant women are offered an ultrasound scan at approximately 10 to 14 weeks of pregnancy. One of the purposes of this scan is to confirm the gestational age of the baby and the estimated date of delivery. Most babies are born between 37 weeks and 41 weeks of pregnancy. Those born at 37 to 38 weeks are considered to be ‘early-term’ and those born at 39 to 40 weeks are considered to be ‘full-term’.

Antenatal surveillance of fetal growth is an essential part of good maternity as fetal growth restriction is directly associated with stillbirth and perinatal morbidity. The Saving Babies Lives Care Bundle includes an element on ‘Risk assessment and management of babies at risk of fetal growth restriction’. This stipulates that maternity care providers may choose to use uterine artery Doppler assessment, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Green-Top Guideline 31: The Investigation and Management of the Small for Gestational Age Fetus, or the Growth Assessment Protocol, which uses growth charts customised for constitutional variation such as ethnic origin, maternal size and parity, to monitor standardised fundal height and estimated fetal weight.