30% rise in ‘last chance’ preg­nan­cies ex­pected

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By WANG XIAODONG wangx­i­aodong@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

The num­ber of preg­nant women older than 35 in China is ex­pected to ex­ceed 3 mil­lion each year be­tween 2017 and 2020, an in­crease of 30 per­cent com­pared with the av­er­age level in the past sev­eral years, a se­nior health of­fi­cial said.

The in­crease, a re­sult of the uni­ver­sal sec­ond-child pol­icy adopted at the be­gin­ning of last year, will im­pose great chal­lenges on the coun­try’s health sys­tem, Ma Xiaowei, vice-min­is­ter of the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, said in Beijing on Thurs­day at a video con- fer­ence on en­sur­ing ma­ter­nal safety.

“For the present and a cer­tain pe­riod in the fu­ture, en­sur­ing the safety of mother and baby is a heavy task that de­serves no op­ti­mism,” Ma said, call­ing for ef­forts to im­prove dis­tri­bu­tion of ob­stet­rics and pe­di­atrics re­sources.

“Sur­veys show many cou­ples born in the 1970s, who were hes­i­tant about hav­ing a sec­ond child dur­ing the ini­tial pe­riod when the uni­ver­sal sec­ond­child pol­icy was adopted, are now hur­ry­ing and pre­par­ing to give birth to a sec­ond child so they will not miss that last chance.”

Al­though the com­mis­sion did not dis­close the num­ber of preg­nant woman over 35 for last year, the num­ber of births at hos­pi­tals last year in China was 18.46 mil­lion, an in­crease of 11.5 per­cent com­pared with 2015.

The num­ber of births at hos­pi­tals be­tween Jan­uary and May reached 7.4 mil­lion, a rise of 7.8 per­cent com­pared with the same pe­riod last year, he said.

Ma urged health au­thor­i­ties at var­i­ous lev­els to give pri­or­ity to ma­ter­nal safety and in­ten­sify mea­sures to en­sure the safety of moth­ers and ba­bies, such as thor­oughly con­duct­ing risk eval­u­a­tions for the preg­nant to elim­i­nate risks and im­prov­ing their ca­pac­i­ties for treat­ment and res­cue of moth­ers and ba­bies in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

Hos­pi­tals across China will add 89,000 ob­stet­rics beds by 2020 to meet in­creas­ing de­mands, and the com­mis­sion will co­op­er­ate with other de­part­ments to pro­vide train­ing to pro­duce 140,000 ad­di­tional ob­ste­tri­cians and mid­wives over the next few years, the com­mis­sion said ear­lier.

China adopted the uni­ver­sal sec­ond-child pol­icy last year, al­low­ing all cou­ples in China to have a sec­ond child. Of all the 90 mil­lion women made el­i­gi­ble to have a sec­ond baby in China with the new pol­icy, 60 per­cent are older than 35, ac­cord­ing to com­mis­sion fig­ures.

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