§ Dr. Roger Thomas
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will take measures to ameliorate the present maternal mortality and morbidity rates and infant mortality and perinatal mortality rates in the immigrant population;
(2) if he will take measures to reduce neural tube disorders in the infants born to immigrant mothers;
(3) in the light of the high incidence of Caesarian sections in the birth of children to immigrant mothers, particularly Asian mothers, whether he is satisfied with the standards of antenatal care and nutritional advice that these people receive during pregnancy.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg
I am concerned that pregnant women in all sections of the population should seek and receive early antenatal care and should use to the full the screening and advice services that are available to optimise the chances of a healthy pregnancy. I am aware that some mothers may be inhibited by cultural and language difficulties from using these services to the full. Many health authorities are increasingly making efforts to improve communications so as to encourage these mothers, but I am considering what more can be done. The maternity services advisory committee's recent report on antenatal care includes checklists that health authorities may well find useful in reviewing antenatal services, including appropriate provision for ethnic minorities and other special groups.