Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors question NICE recommendation to induce labour at 39 weeks in ethnic minority women

BMJ 2021; 374 doi: (Published 06 July 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1711
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

Doctors and campaigners have raised concerns over proposed NICE guidance that recommends that inducing labour should be considered at 39 weeks in women from an ethnic minority family background, even if their pregnancies are considered uncomplicated.1

The draft guidance, under consultation until 6 July, has advised healthcare professionals to consider induction of labour from 39 weeks in “women with otherwise uncomplicated singleton pregnancies who are at a higher risk of complications associated with continued pregnancy . . . for example with a black, Asian, or minority ethnic family background.”

Black women are four times as likely as white women to die in pregnancy or childbirth, and women from Asian ethnic backgrounds have a twofold higher risk. Women living in the UK’s most deprived areas are almost three times as likely to die as those in the richest areas.2

However, …

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