Research Article

Fourth goal of perinatal medicine.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982; 284 doi: (Published 20 March 1982) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982;284:879
  1. C Ounsted,
  2. J C Roberts,
  3. M Gordon,
  4. B Milligan


    Reduction in maternal mortality, infant mortality, and infant morbidity have been successively the goals of perinatal medicine. The fourth is to reduce bonding failure. In July 1978 a preventive service was started in the John Radcliffe Maternity Hospital. A twice-weekly round is made. Midwives refer families who cause them concern. In the first year the referral rate ws 20.5 per 1000 liveborn babies. The referred sample differed from the hospital population in terms of maternal psychiatric history, marital state and babies' admission to special care. The main reasons for referral were: doubt about parenting ability (27%), psychiatric history (15%), disturbed behaviour in hospital (14%), and diffuse social and medical problems (17%). Long-term care was needed for only 14% of families. At their first birthdays, six babies were placed away from their natural parents; the sample had had a slightly higher than expected admission rate to hospital; the distribution of weights did not differ from the expected; doctors and health visitors were still concerned about one-quarter of the families. Seven cases of screening failure were found among those not referred to our service, but only one was seriously abused. No child referred in the first year has been seriously neglected or abused.