Aims To introduce and assess the effectiveness of a questionnaire to examine the level of risk of FGM if a girl is born to a mother who has undergone FGM.
Methods In May 2014 a new policy was introduced within the hospital where every woman with FGM, who gave birth to a female infant, was referred to social care. This policy arose from a recommendation by the local safeguarding children board. Health care professionals were asked to complete a screening questionnaire with the mother and attach the answers to the referral. The questionnaire asked details about maternal FGM, thoughts about her child having FGM and the potential for family pressure. Over a five month period (May to September), all the social care referrals were analysed to assess the outcome of the referral and if the questionnaire helped to stratify the degree of risk of FGM to the female infant.
Results In the time period studied 163 women who attended antenatal booking reported that they had undergone FGM. Of those who delivered in the five month study period, 32 went on to give birth to a female child. The immediate outcomes of these 32 cases were analysed and categorised into high, medium and low risk. Of those who were high risk, two were allocated to a senior social care practitioner for formal assessment, two cases are on-going formal assessment and three were allocated to early help. Of the medium risk, six cases were referred to a multi-agency service and in three cases the family was offered further support through the charity sector. In the low risk category, 14 cases required no further intervention (in one case the screening questions themselves acted as an adequate assessment). One case needed continued support by social care due to disability of the child and in one case the outcome was not known.
Conclusion The questionnaire formalised the referral process, identified infants at high risk and also helped to stratify risk into low, medium and high. It also indicated the demographics at highest risk. The questionnaire also has potential as a primary prevention measure in itself.
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