A leading stillbirth charity is calling on Amazon, eBay and Facebook to stop selling fetal heartbeat monitors to expectant mums, amid fears they lead to “life-threatening” delays in pregnant women seeking medical attention.
According to Kicks Count, home doppler kits – which use ultrasound to monitor a baby’s heartbeat in the womb – can lull parents into a “false sense of security” with potentially fatal consequences.
“We hear stories for many mums who have sadly lost their baby after they delayed seeking medical attention because they had been reassured after hearing their baby’s heartbeat,” said the charity’s CEO Elizabeth Hutton.
“Fetal dopplers are complex pieces of medical equipment and should not be available to the general public,” she continued, adding that midwives and doctors undergo years of training to interpret ultrasound results.
“We are calling on these heavyweight organisations to do the right thing,” Hutton said.
Kicks Count has already successfully campaigned for Tesco and Mothercare to stop selling home dopplers, while Mother and Baby magazine has also agreed to stop advertising the devices to readers.
The UK has the third worst stillbirth rate in the developed world, ranking 33 out of 35 for countries with a similar income. According to antenatal charity Tommy’s, nine babies are stillborn in the UK everyday.
In 2015, then-health secretary Jeremy Hunt launched a drive to halve the number of stillbirths and deaths among new babies and mothers, saying the death of “even one new baby or mum is a devastating tragedy”.