The Mama Academy has a Made to Measure Campaign to help pregnant women and health professionals be more aware of the importance of bump measuring in pregnancy to identify the babies who may be experiencing growth restriction.
In 2012 the number of stillbirths in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber and the North East of England dropped for the first time in 20 years due to the introduction of customised growth charts and growth assessment training by The Perinatal Institute. The Perinatal Institute has estimated that if every NHS Trust adopts their Growth Assessment Protocol Programme (GAP), and a similar stillbirth reduction was achieved across the UK, 1000 stillbirths would be prevented every year.
The Growth Assessment Protocol (GAP) is a programme by The Perinatal Institute which aims to detect growth restricted babies through the use of growthcharts, which are customized to each woman. Between 10-15% of babies born are growth restricted and the majority of these go undetected. By detecting these babies we hugely increase their chance of survival.
The GAP programme includes:
- using customised growth charts and birthweight centiles via specialised software
- training for midwives, obstetricians and ultrasonographers
- data collection tools so that units can monitor and audit their performance and progress.
This extra monitoring costs just 50p per pregnancy, which has got to be worth the investment.
Why are customised growth charts so important?
The Mama Academy sums this up brilliantly: “All babies are made to measure as mums’ bodies are unique. For example, European mums have bigger babies than Asian mums, and taller mums have bigger babies than smaller mums. Because all babies are different it is important that we take this into account when monitoring babies’ growth during pregnancy. However many hospitals do not take into account these variations when monitoring fetal growth.”
The customised growth charts are generated using computer software which takes into account:
- how many babies a woman has had
This produces a bespoke growth chart for each pregnant woman for midwives to use in the antenatal notes.
GAP in The North East
Since 2013, GAP has been adopted in over half of the UK’s maternity units and most of the NHS Trusts across the NE have introduced the GAP programme to monitor the growth of babies:
- City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust
- County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
- North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust
- South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust
- South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have expressed an interest and will hopefullybe introducing the programme in the near future.