ONE in 10 new mothers suffers faecal incontinence caused by damage to the anal sphincter during delivery, according to a study from St Mark's Hospital, London. The greatest risk is with forceps delivery, with 85 per cent of women suffering damage to the sphincter.

The study, which involved 202 new mothers, revealed that most do not consult doctors about faecal incontinence, which can often be corrected by minor surgery. Much damage could be avoided by using a vacuum extractor rather than forceps, to assist delivery, says a report in General Practitioner.