More older pregnant women expected

Updated: 2016-01-25 07:47

By Wang Xiaodong(China Daily)

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More older pregnant women expected

Six-year-old Xu Yuechen looks at her baby brother by the bed of her mother at a maternity hospital in Fuyang, Anhui province. Wang Biao / for China Daily

Hospitals beef up services to handle spike; grassroots clinics seen as pressure reliever

Hospitals and health authorities across China are bracing for an expected surge in older pregnant women this year, after the country adopted a second-child policy.

The policy, which encourages all couples to have two children, took effect on Jan 1.

An additional 90 million women in China, roughly equivalent to the total population of Germany, will eligible to have a second child under the policy, according to estimates by the National Health and Family Planning Commission, China's top health authority.

The commission said 60 percent of the 90 million will be 35 years old or older, which will result in increased risk of complications in pregnancy and pose more challenges to health authorities in ensuring maternal and child health.

Measures will be taken to guide pregnant women to choose grassroots hospitals first, since top-level hospitals are overcrowded, the commission said.

The health authorities are planning to improve the hospitals' emergency treatment capabilities and streamline procedures so that deliveries with critical complications can be transferred between hospitals in a timely manner, the commission said.

"We expect a sharp increase in the number of patients this year," said Chao Wei, a publicity officer with Beijing Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital, one of the capital's best for childbirth.

Chao said the hospital opened night clinics in early January, which are open from 5 pm to 8 pm on weekdays, to cater to the increasing number of patients.

The hospital will employ more obstetricians, pediatricians and midwives this year, he said, adding that it has also expanded its emergency ward, increased emergency beds from eight to 18 and increased intensive-care beds for newborn babies from 30 to 60.

Liu Wenjing, a marketing manager at the Beijing United Family Hospital, said the hospital has seen an increasing number of pregnant patients since November and has extended the clinic hours.

The hospital increased beds, B-ultrasound services and examination rooms to cope with increasing number of patients, she said.

Not just Beijing but many other places in China, such as Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, and Guangzhou, Guangdong province, are also seeing measures taken by hospitals for the expected birth peak, according to media reports.

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