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What to do if there are safeguarding concerns about an unborn child

The Children Act 1989, https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1989/41 is the relevant legislation regarding the unborn child. Currently the law in Wales provides limited recognition of the foetus and a woman has the right to refuse to engage with statutory interventions whilst pregnant. Nevertheless, it is important that any concerns during a pregnancy are reported as soon as they come to the attention of practitioners to ensure that:

Moreover, social workers and other practitioners should be making plans for care and support, protection or court proceedings relating to the child once born.

It is important, therefore, that health professionals and practitioners in contact with the mother and her partner:

These concerns may centre on:

N.B. This is not an exhaustive list.

Please refer to your Regional Safeguarding Board Protocols in relation to unborn children.

See also Section 3 part 2 for details of conferences related to the unborn child.


1 Assessing parental capacity when there are concerns about an unborn child: pre-birth assessment guidance and practice in England. Lushey et al., (2018) Child Abuse Review vol 27 pp97-107.