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NICE Recommends Minority Pregnancies Induced Earlier & Critics Say It's "Racist"

The U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) released new guidelines earlier this month that recommends inducing earlier than Caucasian women. However, the recommendation has received intense backlash from the public and medical experts, with some branding it as .

According to NICE’s clinical guidelines, doctors should consider inducing Black, Asian, and other minority women at 39 weeks if they have had smooth pregnancies but at are a higher risk for complications. The recommendations would apply to England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It doesn’t apply to at the moment.


Pregnant women may be perceived as a higher risk for complications in pregnancy if they are older than 35-years old, have a higher body mass index, or come from an ethnic background, at least according to new research. NICE premised their new recommendations on recent studies that have found minority women to be at higher risk of complications.

For example, an MBRRACE-UK report released earlier this year emphasized that to die of pregnancy complications than their white counterparts.


However, experts emphasize that recommending to their higher rates of complications. There are a variety of complex factors contributing to the higher risk of complications. Minority women already face challenges and biases in accessing quality prenatal care, so singling them out for differential treatment may work to exacerbate this issue.

The , for instance, accused the guideline of singling minority women out, which “itself [should] be considered discriminatory,” they explained.

Additionally, there have also been concerns that NICE’s recommendations will prevent minority women from having control over their pregnancy, delivery, and ultimately their bodies.

During , a pregnant woman is administered a medication like Pitocin in order to stimulate labor (a synthetic form of oxytocin). According to , an induction carries many benefits, including:

  • It can prevent the need for a c-section
  • Can prevent complications associated with high blood pressure, infections, ruptured amniotic sac etc.

At the same time, however, the publication emphasizes that inducing labor also comes with a risk. It’s been linked to infection, rupture or overstimulation of the uterus, lowered fetal heart rate, and fetal distress, or even death. Choosing an induction is not a decision to be taken lightly.

As of now, NICE’s recommendation remains in draft form. It was subjected to a consultation period where feedback was welcomed, though it closed on July 6th. It remains to be seen if NICE will amend the guidelines following the backlash or will continue to back up its controversial recommendation.


Sources: , , , ,