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  1. ITV Report

Amazon, eBay and Facebook urged to ban the sale of home dopplers

Amazon, eBay and Facebook have been urged by a leading stillbirth charity to ban the sale of home dopplers from their websites.

The devices, which can pick up a baby’s heartbeat, can give pregnant women a false sense of security when something goes wrong, Kicks Count warns.

It said foetal dopplers are cheap to buy and easily available but warned they are only safe when used by a trained medical professional.

If a pregnant women is concerned about her baby and uses one, she may incorrectly detect her own heart rate, and not seek timely medical advice.

Jennie Lyon-Marrian from Southampton lost her baby daughter just before Christmas 2016.

She used a doppler when she didn't think her baby was moving normally, but found a heartbeat. When she checked again later that same day she couldn't find one and went to hospital.

"The doctor did an ultrasound and turned round and said 'I'm really sorry, she's gone," Mrs Lyon-Marrian told ITV News.

She says because she used the doppler she "will never know" if the outcome could have been different, adding: "I wish I'd relied on my first instinct and gone to hospital as soon as I knew she hadn't moved the way she normally did."

She warned other pregnant women not to buy the devices and said they should only be available for use by medical professionals.

Kicks Count chief executive Elizabeth Hutton said: "We hear stories from many mums who have sadly lost their baby after they delayed seeking medical attention because they had been reassured after hearing their baby’s heartbeat.

"Foetal dopplers are complex pieces of medical equipment and should not be available to the general public.

"We are calling on these heavyweight organisations to do the right thing."

The call comes as charities prepare to mark Baby Loss Awareness Week.

A coalition of 60 charities working to prevent baby deaths and pregnancy loss have called for better bereavement care for parents across the UK.

It called on all health bodies to adopt a new programme - the National Bereavement Care Pathway - to ensure that families who have experienced loss are given the best support possible.

The standards include giving parents the opportunity to spend time with their babies, a dedicated bereavement room and bereavement care training for all staff who have contact with grieving parents.

Foetal dopplers are easily available but warned they are only safe when used by a trained medical professional. Credit: PA

Dr Clea Harmer, chief executive of the stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands, said: "Bereavement care for anyone who has suffered a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, or the death of a baby, must get better and we believe we have the solution.

Meanwhile, a British fertility research charity, Genesis Research Trust, warned the causes of baby loss are "under-researched".

Professor Robert Winston, chairman and founder of the charity, said: "In over 40 years of my professional life I have never felt more at a loss than when confronted by a grieving mother and father who have just seen their dead baby.

"Their grief is unbearable when I have had to explain that we do not know yet why it happened."