June 20, 2005 14:45 ET

SOGC: Impact of Inadequate Prenatal Care on Neonatal Mortality Will Rise in Canada

QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - June 20, 2005) - Canadian women and their unborn babies will be at increased risk should a shortage of primary maternity care not be addressed swiftly, warned doctors at the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada's (SOGC) Annual Clinical Meeting.

"There is a human resource crisis in Canada in the provision of primary maternity care. The number of births is declining but provincial statistics prove the number of physicians performing obstetrics is declining at a faster rate and those that remain are increasingly delivering more and more babies," explains Dr. Andre Lalonde, Executive Vice-President of the SOGC. "More unsettling is a large portion of these doctors are set to retire in the next five years. Many are already winding down their practices."

The number of family physicians involved in maternity care and the delivery of babies is significantly reduced in many parts of Canada. There are also few midwives and many practitioners have limited scopes of practice.

A recent Ottawa University Study featured at the SOGC conference concluded that inadequate prenatal care should be considered as a risk factor for neonatal mortality, especially if the pregnancy has been complicated by anemia, cardiac disease, diabetes, renal disease or pregnancy-induced hypertension. "In our northern and aboriginal communities, diabetes is more prevalent where access is most limited," continues Dr. Lalonde.

"The obstetrician/gynaecologist specialists tend to be located in urban areas and are working beyond capacity. The human resource deficiency in delivery or primary maternity care is most pronounced in rural areas of Canada," warns Dr. Michael Helewa, President of the SOGC.

In May 2004, Health Canada responded to this crisis by funding the Multidisciplinary Collaborative Primary Maternity Care Project, a key initiative for the SOGC president. "We must act and implement collaborative models of maternity care and encourage more health care practitioners to begin or continue to provide obstetrical services."

"The overarching goal of this project is to reduce barriers and facilitate the implementation of a national multidisciplinary collaborative primary maternity care strategy as a means to increase the availability and quality of maternity services for Canadian women," concludes Dr. Helewa.

"Provincial governments must be flexible and allow maternity care providers to work together. Every community needs the flexibility to form teams that meet the needs of their patients," says Michelle Kryzanauskas, a registered midwife and SOGC council member.

"One size does fit all in collaboration," adds Jennifer Medves, a registered nurse with the program.

About the SOGC:

About the SOGC: Founded in 1944, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada is comprised of over 2,700 professional members, including gynaecologists, obstetricians, family physicians, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals. A leading authority on reproductive health care, the SOGC produces national guidelines for both public and medical education on important women's health issues. The Society's mission is to promote optimal women's health through leadership, collaboration, education, research and advocacy in the practice of obstetrics and gynaecology.

Contact Information

  • SOGC
    Kelly Nolan
    Director, Communications and Public Education
    (800) 561-2416 or (613) 730-4192 extension: 330
    (613) 730-4314 (FAX)
    (613) 323-1187 (Mobile)