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Childbirth in Ireland’s capital city over sixty years



Ireland has changed over the past sixty years, and the dynamic practice of obstetrics and gynaecology has changed with it.

Study design and methods

To describe these changes, a review was performed of clinical reports of a tertiary referral teaching hospital over six decades.


Since the 1960s, the hospital’s total births per annum has risen (3050 to 8362 births). Teenage pregnancy is less common (4.7 to 2.0%, p < 0.001), with more women over age 40 at booking (2.6 to 6.4%, p < 0.001). There are more multiple pregnancies now (1.8 to 4.1%, p < 0.001) and less grand-multiparous woman (10.1 to 1.3%, p < 0.001). Eclampsia is less common (0.18 to 0.02%, p = 0.003), with a slight decrease in rate of preeclampsia (3.8 to 3.0%, p = 0.03). Induction of labour increased considerably (8.8 to 32.1%, p < 0.001). While the instrumental delivery rate remained stable, the instrument of choice has changed from forceps (11.3 to 5.4%, p = 0.001) to ventouse delivery (0.6 to 9.1%, p = 0.001). The caesarean section rate rose (5.9 to 29.7%, p < 0.001). Vaginal birth after caesarean section rate dropped (90.4 to 28.2%, p < 0.001) without significant change in rate of uterine rupture (0.4 to 0.7%, p = 0.1). The perinatal mortality rate improved (48.5 to 5.4 per 1000 births, p < 0.001). Preterm birth rate rose (4.9 to 6.6%, p = 0.001). Foetal macrosomia decreased in this time (2.5 to 1.7%, p = 0.007), despite a rise in the incidence of gestational diabetes mellitus.


This study provides an intriguing glimpse into the changes in the practice of obstetrics and demonstrates how it adapts to the population it serves.

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Correspondence to Gillian A. Corbett.

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Corbett, G.A., Fitzpatrick, C., Daly, S. et al. Childbirth in Ireland’s capital city over sixty years. Ir J Med Sci (2020).

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  • Caesarean section
  • Instrumental delivery
  • Maternal age
  • Obstetrics
  • Trends