Water births should “only be performed within the context of a clinical trial”, an inquiry into the death of a baby who died after being born in a Angus birthing pool was told.
Nevaeh Stewart died less than four hours after she was born at Montrose Royal Infirmary’s community midwife unit on September 30 2012.
A fatal accident inquiry into her death is being held at Forfar Sheriff Court.
Dr Peter Fowlie, a consultant paediatrician at Ninewells and former regional director of neonatal transport for NHS Tayside, said parents should be advised as to the risks in water births.
Fiscal depute Andrew Ramsay said: “There is a significant difference of opinion between experiences around the safety of water birth?”
Dr Fowlie said: “The debate still exists about whether it is safe for baby to be delivered in water.
“There is a reasonable body of evidence to suggest that labouring in water is potentially helpful to the mother.
“The evidence about delivering in water is still uncertain.
“There is ongoing difference of opinion about whether birth in the water is safe for the baby.”
Mr Ramsay said: “To quote an American study in your report, it says ‘Immersion during the second stage of labour has no proven benefit to mother and baby and can potentially have adverse, even fatal risks.
“The process of immersion during water delivery should be considered an experimental procedure and only carried out within the context of a clinical trial with informed consent.
“Is it the case that you support the view that I’ve read to you from the American study?”
Dr Fowlie replied: “Yes.”
The inquiry, before Sheriff Pino Di Emidio, continues.
See Tuesday’s Courier for more on this story.