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Health Technol Assess. 2004 Apr;8(14):iii-iv, ix-xi, 1-100.

Routine examination of the newborn: the EMREN study. Evaluation of an extension of the midwife role including a randomised controlled trial of appropriately trained midwives and paediatric senior house officers.

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Public and Environmental Health Research Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK.



To assess the implications and cost-effectiveness of extending the role of midwives to include the routine (24-hour) examination of the healthy newborn usually carried out by junior doctors.


The study included a prospective randomised controlled trial (RCT) with mother and baby dyads randomised to either senior house officer (SHO) or midwife for the routine examination of the newborn. Midwives and SHOs were also videoed while performing the examinations and the videos were rated by an independent consultant and senior midwife. In addition extensive interviews, surveys, consultations and assessments were carried out.


A District General Hospital (for the RCT), a London Teaching Hospital, general practices and mothers' homes (for interviews); questionnaires were sent to all maternity units in England (for the National Survey).


A total of 826 mother and baby dyads in a District General Hospital in south-east England. Midwives and SHOs, as well as midwifery managers, paediatric consultants; general practitioners (GPs) and representatives of key organisations.


A routine examination of a newborn baby was carried out at about 24 hours from birth and a further examination for half the babies in each group, at 10-days at home by the community midwife.


Referrals assessed as appropriate and as major or minor by three independent consultants. Problems identified during the first year of life assessed as identifiable at 24 hours. Quality assessment by video against an agreed written proforma. Maternal satisfaction. Opinion of professionals and mothers about aspects of the examination.


There was no statistical difference between SHO and midwife examinations in appropriate referral rates to hospital or community or in inappropriate referral rates to hospital. Videoed assessments were assessed as carried out more appropriately by the midwives than by the SHOs. Overall maternal satisfaction was high and higher when a midwife rather than an SHO examined. Few new health problems were identified at the 10-day examination. From the National Survey, it was estimated that about 2% of babies in England are examined by a midwife. If midwives were to examine all babies where there were no complications of birth or antenatal history, there would be savings of about 2 pounds per baby born, equivalent to savings of 1.2 pounds million nationally. Were midwives to examine all babies on normal wards savings would increase to about 4.30 pounds per baby born or 2.5 million pounds nationally. Representatives of the professional bodies were of the opinion that having trained midwives carrying out the examination would be valuable.


All component aspects of the study were consistent in showing benefits or at least no significant barriers to suitably qualified, trained midwives carrying out the examinations. Developing the role of the midwife to include examination of the newborn is likely to result in improved quality of examinations and higher satisfaction from mothers. It would slightly reduce overall health service costs, with some increased resources needed by midwifery departments, and some decrease in resource needs of paediatric departments. There is a need for further research into the value of the examination being carried out at home rather than in hospital; the overall unsatisfactory quality of the examination of the hips; and appropriate inclusion criteria for which babies' midwives should examine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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