Tuesday Oct 09, 2018
Encouraging pregnant women to be aware of reduced fetal movement and to report it promptly to their doctors does not reduce stillbirth risk, new findings show.
“We cannot rely on reduced fetal movement awareness as a strategy to reduce stillbirth,” Dr Jane E. Norman of Queen’s Medical Research Institute in Edinburgh, the study’s first author, told Reuters Health via email.
Stillbirth prevention programs often advise pregnant women to beware of reduced fetal movement, despite the lack of evidence that such monitoring reduces stillbirth risk.
Norman’s team evaluated this approach in a trial at 33 hospitals in the UK and Ireland. The researchers provided an online learning package to doctors on management of reduced fetal movement. They also provided a leaflet about monitoring fetal movements to women who were about 20 weeks pregnant. The pamphlet instructed women to monitor changes in fetal movements starting at 24 weeks, and to seek immediate care if they observe changes after 28 weeks’ gestation.
Between 2014 and 2016, the authors collected data on 157,692 pregnancies from before the introduction of the learning package and 227,860 after the learning package was in use.
For every 1,000 pregnancies, there were roughly four stillbirths at or past 24 weeks, with or without the special advice to monitor fetal movements.
Women who detect reduced fetal movement should still seek advice from their doctor or midwife, Norman told Reuters Health.