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I'm only sweeping

02 February 2021
Volume 29 · Issue 2


Can membrane sweeping before 40 weeks be justified in the absence of evidence?

The author has been following, with interest, the debates and discussions around the trend of increasing induction rates across the UK, influenced in part by the drive to reduce stillbirth, neonatal mortality and brain injury by 2025. This trend has been formally recognised by a variety of sources, including progress reviews of ‘Better births’, the second version of ‘Saving babies lives care bundle’ (SBLCB) and the National Maternity and Perinatal Audit (NHS England, 2019; National Maternity and Perinatal Audit, 2019; Maternity Transformation Programme, 2020). Current data indicates that while the most common labour onset mode remains spontaneous (albeit less than half at 49 % in 2019–2020), this has decreased from 68% in the years 2009–2010. A corresponding rise in induction rates from 21%–33% in these years has been observed with an associated steady decline in stillbirth rates since 2013 (Draper et al, 2020; NHS Digital, 2020).

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