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Obstetrics is the care of the pregnant mother and her baby pre- and perinatally. In many areas it overlaps with gynaecology.

Until 1992, a gynaecological problem would only become an obstetric one at 28 weeks gestation when the fetus was considered to be viable. However, with modern neonatal care a fetus can be viable at 24 weeks and the law and its definitions changed on 1 October 1992 to reflect this.

Modern practice asks pregnant mothers to book - ie to register with a hospital obstetrician - as early as 12 weeks. Thus when a patient should be discharged from a gynaecologist to an obstetrician is fairly artificial, and is reflected in the professional qualification in this field, which requires practitioners to be, at least in theory, both obstetricians and gynaecologists.

In some circumstances, an obstetric condition may have been included in the gynaecology section of the database where overlap occurs between the specialties. Users are advised to use the Search facility if they have difficulty in finding the appropriate section.

Last reviewed 01/2018


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