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INTRODUCTION: Successive confidential enquiries into maternal deaths in the UK have identified an urgent need to develop a national early warning score (EWS) specifically for pregnant or recently pregnant women to aid more timely recognition, referral and treatment of women who are developing life-threatening complications in pregnancy or the puerperium. Although many local EWS are in use in obstetrics, most have been developed heuristically. No current obstetric EWS has defined the thresholds at which an alert should be triggered using evidence-based normal ranges, nor do they reflect the changing physiology that occurs with gestation during pregnancy. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: An observational cohort study involving 1000 participants across three UK sites in Oxford, London and Newcastle. Pregnant women will be recruited at approximately 14 weeks' gestation and have their vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation and temperature) measured at 4 to 6-week intervals during pregnancy. Vital signs recorded during labour and delivery will be extracted from hospital records. After delivery, participants will measure and record their own vital signs daily for 2 weeks. During the antenatal and postnatal periods, vital signs will be recorded on an Android tablet computer through a custom software application and transferred via mobile internet connection to a secure database. The data collected will be used to define reference ranges of vital signs across normal pregnancy, labour and the immediate postnatal period. This will inform the design of an evidence-based obstetric EWS. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The study has been approved by the NRES committee South East Coast-Brighton and Sussex (14/LO/1312) and is registered with the ISRCTN (10838017). All participants will provide written informed consent and can withdraw from the study at any point. All data collected will be managed anonymously. The findings will be disseminated in international peer-reviewed journals and through research conferences.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





Early Warning Score, Pregnancy, Vital Signs, Adolescent, Adult, Blood Pressure, Body Temperature, Clinical Protocols, Cohort Studies, Critical Care, Female, Heart Rate, Humans, Maternal Death, Middle Aged, Oxygen, Perinatal Care, Postpartum Period, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications, Reference Values, Research Design, Respiratory Rate, United Kingdom, Vital Signs, Young Adult