Planning for a future influenza pandemic should include considerations specific to pregnant women. First, pregnant women are at increased risk for influenza-associated illness and death. The effects on the fetus of maternal influenza infection, associated fever, and agents used for prophylaxis and treatment should be taken into account. Pregnant women might be reluctant to comply with public health recommendations during a pandemic because of concerns regarding effects of vaccines or medications on the fetus. Guidelines regarding nonpharmaceutical interventions (e.g., voluntary quarantine) also might present special challenges because of conflicting recommendations about routine prenatal care and delivery. Finally, healthcare facilities need to develop plans to minimize exposure of pregnant women to ill persons, while ensuring that women receive necessary care.
pregnancy; women; influenza; H5N1; avian influenza; pandemic influenza; antiviral medications; influenza vaccine; perspective
Introduction: Many medical disciplines, such as emergency medicine, trauma surgery, dermatology, psychiatry, family practice, and dentistry have documented attempts at assessing the level of bioterrorism preparedness in their communities. Currently, there is neither such an assessment nor an existing review of potential bioterrorism agents as they relate to plastic surgery. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to present plastic surgeons with a review of potential bioterrorism agents. Methods: A review of the literature on bioterrorism agents and online resources of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was conducted. Category A agents were identified and specific attention was paid to the management issues that plastic surgeons might face in the event that these agents are used in an attack. Results: Disease entities reviewed were smallpox, anthrax, plague, viral hemorrhagic fever, tularemia, and botulism. For each agent, we presented the microbiology, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, potential for weaponization, medical management, and surgical issues related to the plastic surgeon. Conclusion: This article is the first attempt at addressing preparedness for bioterrorism in the plastic surgery community. Many other fields have already started a similar process. This article represents a first step in developing evidence-based consensus guidelines and recommendations for the management of biological terrorism for plastic surgeons.
Health emergency planning for preparedness and response against acts of terrorism, including the malfeasant threat or actual release of biological agents designed to harm others, has assumed a higher level of concern for most western nations, including Canada, following the explosive attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001. These terrorist attacks were followed by an outbreak of anthrax infections. The Bacillus anthracis spores in these attacks were dispersed by using regular postal services in the United States. In addition to the unsettling sense of social vulnerability that resulted from these attacks, a greater appreciation that the integration of public health, emergency health and social services with security activities was required to fully address the need to protect the health and other interests of the citizens. Collaborative work among regional, provincial, territorial, federal and international authorities within these domains is emerging as an effective response to the risk management of bioterrorism. The following is a brief description of the health framework for preparedness and response, and the biological agents of major concern in terrorism.
Bioterrorism; Health emergency
In spite of the eradication of smallpox over 30 years ago; orthopox viruses such as smallpox and monkeypox remain serious public health threats both through the possibility of bioterrorism and the intentional release of smallpox and through natural outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases such as monkeypox. The eradication effort was largely made possible by the availability of an effective vaccine based on the immunologically cross-protective vaccinia virus. Although the concept of vaccination dates back to the late 1800s with Edward Jenner, it is only in the past decade that modern immunologic tools have been applied toward deciphering poxvirus immunity. Smallpox vaccines containing vaccinia virus elicit strong humoral and cellular immune responses that confer cross-protective immunity against variola virus for decades after immunization. Recent studies have focused on: establishing the longevity of poxvirus-specific immunity, defining key immune epitopes targeted by T and B cells, developing subunit-based vaccines, and developing genotypic and phenotypic immune response profiles that predict either vaccine response or adverse events following immunization.
The Syndromic Surveillance Information Collection (SSIC) system aims to facilitate early detection of bioterrorism attacks (with such agents as anthrax, brucellosis, plague, Q fever, tularemia, smallpox, viral encephalitides, hemorrhagic fever, botulism toxins, staphylococcal enterotoxin B, etc.) and early detection of naturally occurring disease outbreaks, including large foodborne disease outbreaks, emerging infections, and pandemic influenza. This is accomplished using automated data collection of visit-level discharge diagnoses from heterogeneous clinical information systems, integrating those data into a common XML (Extensible Markup Language) form, and monitoring the results to detect unusual patterns of illness in the population. The system, operational since January 2001, collects, integrates, and displays data from three emergency department and urgent care (ED/UC) departments and nine primary care clinics by automatically mining data from the information systems of those facilities. With continued development, this system will constitute the foundation of a population-based surveillance system that will facilitate targeted investigation of clinical syndromes under surveillance and allow early detection of unusual clusters of illness compatible with bioterrorism or disease outbreaks.
Biological warfare; Bioterrorism; Data collection; Database; Informatics; Information systems; Sentinel surveillance
The threat of bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases has prompted various public health agencies to recommend enhanced surveillance activities to supplement existing surveillance plans. The majority of emerging infectious diseases and bioterrorist agents are zoonotic. Animals are more sensitive to certain biological agents, and their use as clinical sentinels, as a means of early detection, is warranted.
This article provides design methods for a local integrated zoonotic surveillance plan and materials developed for veterinarians to assist in the early detection of bioevents. Zoonotic surveillance in the U.S. is currently too limited and compartmentalized for broader public health objectives. To rapidly detect and respond to bioevents, collaboration and cooperation among various agencies at the federal, state, and local levels must be enhanced and maintained. Co-analysis of animal and human diseases may facilitate the response to infectious disease events and limit morbidity and mortality in both animal and human populations.
The recent public health risks arising from bioterrorist threats and outbreaks of infectious diseases like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) highlight the challenges of effectively communicating accurate health information to an alarmed public.
To evaluate use of the Internet in accessing information related to the anthrax scare in the United States in late 2001, and to strategize about the most effective use of this technology as a communication vehicle during times of public health crises.
A paper-based survey to assess how individuals obtained health information relating to bioterrorism and anthrax during late 2001.We surveyed 500 randomly selected patients from two ambulatory primary care clinics affiliated with the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
The response rate was 42%. While traditional media provided the primary source of information on anthrax and bioterrorism, 21% (95% CI, 15% - 27%) of respondents reported searching the Internet for this information during late 2001. Respondents reported trusting information from physicians the most, and information from health websites slightly more than information from any traditional media source. Over half of those searching the Internet reported changing their behavior as a result of information found online.
Many people already look to the Internet for information during a public health crisis, and information found online can positively influence behavioral responses to such crises. However, the potential of the Internet to convey accurate health information and advice has not yet been realized. In order to enhance the effectiveness of public-health communication, physician practices could use this technology to pro-actively e-mail their patients validated information. Still, unless Internet access becomes more broadly available, its benefits will not accrue to disadvantaged populations.
bioterrorism; public health; communication; electronic mail; inequality; behavior
Pregnant women with prior venous thromboembolism (VTE) are at risk of recurrence. Low molecular weight heparin (LWMH) reduces the risk of pregnancy-related VTE. LMWH prophylaxis is, however, inconvenient, uncomfortable, costly, medicalizes pregnancy, and may be associated with increased risks of obstetrical bleeding. Further, there is uncertainty in the estimates of both the baseline risk of pregnancy-related recurrent VTE and the effects of antepartum LMWH prophylaxis. The values and treatment preferences of pregnant women, crucial when making recommendations for prophylaxis, are currently unknown. The objective of this study is to address this gap in knowledge.
We will perform a multi-center cross-sectional interview study in Canada, USA, Norway and Finland. The study population will consist of 100 women with a history of lower extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE), and who are either pregnant, planning pregnancy, or may in the future consider pregnancy (women between 18 and 45 years). We will exclude individuals who are on full dose anticoagulation or thromboprophylaxis, who have undergone surgical sterilization, or whose partners have undergone vasectomy. We will determine each participant's willingness to receive LMWH prophylaxis during pregnancy through direct choice exercises based on real life and hypothetical scenarios, preference-elicitation using a visual analog scale (“feeling thermometer”), and a probability trade-off exercise. The primary outcome will be the minimum reduction (threshold) in VTE risk at which women change from declining to accepting LMWH prophylaxis. We will explore possible determinants of this choice, including educational attainment, the characteristics of the women’s prior VTE, and prior experience with LMWH. We will determine the utilities that women place on the burden of LMWH prophylaxis, pregnancy-related DVT, pregnancy-related PE and pregnancy-related hemorrhage. We will generate a “personalized decision analysis” using participants’ utilities and their personalized risk of recurrent VTE as inputs to a decision analytic model. We will compare the personalized decision analysis to the participant’s stated choice.
The preferences of pregnant women at risk of VTE with respect to the use of antithrombotic therapy remain unexplored. This research will provide explicit, quantitative expressions of women's valuations of health states related to recurrent VTE and its prevention with LMWH. This information will be crucial for both guideline developers and for clinicians.
Immunologic changes of pregnancy may increase susceptibility to certain intracellular pathogens.
A key component of the response to emerging infections is consideration of special populations, including pregnant women. Successful pregnancy depends on adaptation of the woman's immune system to tolerate a genetically foreign fetus. Although the immune system changes are not well understood, a shift from cell-mediated immunity toward humoral immunity is believed to occur. These immunologic changes may alter susceptibility to and severity of infectious diseases in pregnant women. For example, pregnancy may increase susceptibility to toxoplasmosis and listeriosis and may increase severity of illness and increase mortality rates from influenza and varicella. Compared with information about more conventional disease threats, information about emerging infectious diseases is quite limited. Pregnant women's altered response to infectious diseases should be considered when planning a response to emerging infectious disease threats.
emerging infectious diseases; pregnancy; immunology; synopsis
Placental immune response and its tropism for specific viruses and pathogens affect the outcome of the pregnant woman’s susceptibility to and severity of certain infectious diseases. The generalization of pregnancy as a condition of immune suppression or increased risk is misleading and prevents the determination of adequate guidelines for treating pregnant women during pandemics. There is a need to evaluate the interaction of each specific pathogen with the fetal/placental unit and its responses to design the adequate prophylaxis or therapy. The complexity of the immunology of pregnancy and the focus, for many years, on the concept of immunology of pregnancy as an organ transplantation have complicated the field and delayed the development of new guidelines with clinical implications that could help to answer these and other relevant questions. Our challenge as scientists and clinicians interested in the field of reproductive immunology is to evaluate many of the ‘classical concepts’ to define new approaches for a better understanding of the immunology of pregnancy that will benefit mothers and fetuses in different clinical scenarios.
Cytokines; inflammation; macrophages; placenta; pregnancy; TLR
We examined outbreak investigations conducted around the world from 1988 to 1999 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. In 44 (4.0%) of 1,099 investigations, identified causative agents had bioterrorism potential. In six investigations, intentional use of infectious agents was considered. Healthcare providers reported 270 (24.6%) outbreaks and infection control practitioners reported 129 (11.7%); together they reported 399 (36.3%) of the outbreaks. Health departments reported 335 (30.5%) outbreaks. For six outbreaks in which bioterrorism or intentional contamination was possible, reporting was delayed for up to 26 days. We confirmed that the most critical component for bioterrorism outbreak detection and reporting is the frontline healthcare profession and the local health departments. Bioterrorism preparedness should emphasize education and support of this frontline as well as methods to shorten the time between outbreak and reporting.
Bioterrorism; Preparedness; Outbreak; Anthrax; perspective
Three decades after the eradication of smallpox, the threat of bioterrorism and outbreaks of emerging diseases such as monkeypox have renewed interest in the development of safe and effective next-generation poxvirus vaccines and biodefense research. Current smallpox vaccines contain live virus and are contraindicated for a large percentage of the population. Safer, yet still effective inactivated and subunit vaccines are needed, and epitope identification is an essential step in the development of these subunit vaccines. In this study we focused on 4 vaccinia membrane proteins known to be targeted by humoral responses in vaccinees. In spite of the narrow focus of the study we identified 36 T cell epitopes, and provide additional support for the physical linkage between T and B epitopes. This information may prove useful in peptide and protein-based subunit vaccine development as well as in the study of CD4 responses to poxviruses.
Vaccinia virus; smallpox vaccine; cellular immunity; T cell epitopes; CD4+ T cells
To estimate the economic value of administering antiviral medications to pregnant women who have come in contact with an infectious individual with influenza.
A computer-simulation model was developed to predict the potential economic effect of antiviral use for postexposure prophylaxis among pregnant women in both seasonal influenza and pandemic influenza scenarios. The model allowed us to examine the effects of varying influenza exposure risk, antiviral efficacy, antiviral cost, and the probability of different influenza outcomes such as hospitalization, preterm delivery, and mortality.
For a variety of pandemic influenza scenarios (attack rate 20% or more, probability of preterm birth for women with influenza 12% or more, mortality for a preterm neonate 2% or more, and probability of influenza-attributable hospitalization 4.8% or more), the postexposure prophylactic use of antiviral medications was strongly cost-effective, with incremental cost-effectiveness ratio values below $50,000 per quality-adjusted life-year. Antiviral prophylaxis became an economically dominant strategy (that is, less costly and more effective) when the influenza attack rate is 20% or more and preterm birth rate is 36% or more, and when attack rate is 30% or more and preterm birth rate is 24% or more.Antiviral prophylaxis was not cost-effective under seasonal influenza conditions.
These findings support the use of antiviral medications for postexposure prophylaxis among pregnant women in a pandemic influenza scenario but not in a seasonal influenza setting.
Vaccinia virus (VACV) was used as the vaccine strain to eradicate smallpox. VACV is still administered to healthcare workers or researchers who are at risk of contracting the virus, and to military personnel. Thus, VACV represents a weapon against outbreaks, both natural (e.g., monkeypox) or man-made (bioterror). This virus is also used as a vector for experimental vaccine development (cancer/infectious disease). As a prototypic poxvirus, VACV is a model system for studying host–pathogen interactions. Until recently, little was known about the targets of host immune responses, which was likely owing to VACVs large genome (>200 open reading frames). However, the last few years have witnessed an explosion of data, and VACV has quickly become a useful model to study adaptive immune responses. This review summarizes and highlights key findings based on identification of VACV antigens targeted by the immune system (CD4, CD8 and antibodies) and the complex interplay between responses.
adaptive immunity; epitopes; immunodominant; protection; vaccinia virus
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has played a critical lead role over the past two years in fostering activities associated with the medical and public health response to bioterrorism. Based on a charge from Secretary Donna Shalala in 1998, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is leading public health efforts to strengthen the nation's capacity to detect and respond to a bioterrorist event. As a result of our efforts, federal, state, and local communities are improving their public health capacities to respond to these types of emergencies. For many of us in public health, developing plans and capacities to respond to acts of bioterrorism is an extension of our long-standing roles and responsibilities. These are stated in the CDC Mission Statement: to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability, and the Bioterrorism Mission: to lead the public health effort in enhancing readiness to detect and respond to bioterrorism. CDC's infectious diseases control efforts are summarized below: --Initially formed to address malaria control in 1946; --Established the epidemic Intelligence Service in 1951; --Participated in global smallpox eradication and other immunization programs; --Estimated 800-1,000 + field investigations/year since late 1990s; --New diseases: Legionnaire's Disease, toxic shock syndrome, Lyme disease, HIV, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, West Nile, etc. -- Today: focus on emerging infections and bioterrorism. Over the past 50 years, CDC has seen a decline in the incidence of some infectious diseases and an increase in some, whereas others continue to present on a more unpredictable basis (i.e., hantavirus). Outbreak identification, investigation, and control have been an integral part of what we do for more than 50 years. We estimate that 800 to 1,000 field investigations have occurred every year since the late 1990s. Today, however, we have a new focus on emerging infectious diseases and bioterrorism.
With the emergence of H1N1 pandemic (pH1N1) influenza, the CDC recommended that pregnant women be one of five initial target groups to receive the 2009 monovalent H1N1 vaccine, regardless of prior infection with this influenza strain. We sought to compare the immune response of pregnant women to H1N1 infection versus vaccination and to determine the extent of passive immunity conferred to the newborn.
During the 2009-2010 influenza season, we enrolled a cohort of women who either had confirmed pH1N1 infection during pregnancy, did not have pH1N1 during pregnancy but were vaccinated against pH1N1, or did not have illness or vaccination. Maternal and umbilical cord venous blood samples were collected at delivery. Hemagglutination inhibition assays (HAI) for pH1N1 were performed. Data were analyzed using linear regression analyses. HAIs were performed for matched maternal/cord blood pairs for 16 women with confirmed pH1N1 infection, 14 women vaccinated against pH1N1, and 10 women without infection or vaccination. We found that pH1N1 vaccination and wild-type infection during pregnancy did not differ with respect to (1) HAI titers at delivery, (2) HAI antibody decay slopes over time, and (3) HAI titers in the cord blood.
Vaccination against pH1N1 confers a similar HAI antibody response as compared to pH1N1 infection during pregnancy, both in quantity and quality. Illness or vaccination during pregnancy confers passive immunity to the newborn.
Public health and medical professionals are expected to be well prepared for emergencies, as they assume an integral role in any response. They need to be aware of planning issues, be able to identify their roles in emergency situations, and show functional competence. However, media perceptions and non-empirical publications often lack an evidence base when addressing this topic. This study attempted to assess the competencies of various health professionals by obtaining quantitative data on the state of bioterrorism preparedness and response competencies in Australia using an extensive set of competencies developed by Kristine Gebbie from the Columbia University School of Nursing Center for Health Policy with funding from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. These competencies reflect the knowledge, capabilities, and skills that are necessary for best practice in public health. Sufficient data were collected to enable comparison between public health leaders, communicable disease specialists, clinicians (with and without medical degrees), and environmental health professionals. All health professionals performed well. However, the primary finding of this study was that clinicians consistently self-assessed themselves as lower in competence, and clinicians with medical degrees self-assessed themselves as the lowest in bioterrorism competence. This has important implications for health professional training, national benchmarks, standards, and competencies for the public health workforce.
While awareness of bioterrorism threats and emerging infectious diseases has resulted in an increased sense of urgency to improve the knowledge base and response capability of physicians, few medical schools and residency programs have curricula in place to teach these concepts. Public health agencies are an essential component of a response to these types of emergencies. Public health education during medical school is usually limited to the non-clinical years. With collaboration from our local public health agency, the Emory University School of Medicine developed a curriculum in bioterrorism and emerging infections. By implementing this curriculum in the clinical years of medical school and residency programs, we seek to foster improved interactions between clinicians and their local public health agencies.
Inappropriate use of antibiotics by individuals worried about biological agent exposures during bioterrorism events is an important public health concern. However, little is documented about the extent to which individuals with self-identified risk of anthrax exposure approached physicians for antimicrobial prophylaxis during the 2001 bioterrorism attacks in the United States.
We conducted a telephone survey of randomly selected members of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians to assess patients' request for and emergency physicians' prescription of antimicrobial agents during the 2001 anthrax attacks.
Ninety-seven physicians completed the survey. Sixty-four (66%) respondents had received requests from patients for anthrax prophylaxis; 16 (25%) of these physicians prescribed antibiotics to a total of 23 patients. Ten physicians prescribed ciprofloxacin while 8 physicians prescribed doxycycline.
During the 2001 bioterrorist attacks, the majority of the emergency physicians we surveyed encountered patients who requested anthrax prophylaxis. Public fears may lead to a high demand for antibiotic prophylaxis during bioterrorism events. Elucidation of the relationship between public health response to outbreaks and outcomes would yield insights to ease burden on frontline clinicians and guide strategies to control inappropriate antibiotic allocation during bioterrorist events.
In the 1980's and 1990's HIV/AIDS was the emerging infectious disease. In 2003–2004 we saw the emergence of SARS, Avian influenza and Anthrax in a man made form used for bioterrorism. Emergency powers legislation in Australia is a patchwork of Commonwealth quarantine laws and State and Territory based emergency powers in public health legislation. It is time for a review of such legislation and time for consideration of the efficacy of such legislation from a country wide perspective in an age when we have to consider the possibility of mass outbreaks of communicable diseases which ignore jurisdictional boundaries.
QUESTION: A 27-year-old patient of mine recently learned she is pregnant. She took the influenza vaccine offered at work when she was 7 weeks pregnant. Is her fetus at risk of malformations? ANSWER: No evidence indicates that killed influenza vaccine is teratogenic, even if given during the first trimester. Since 1996, Health Canada's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that pregnant women in their second and third trimesters be vaccinated. This should not be interpreted as evidence that the vaccine is teratogenic in the first trimester because such evidence does not exist.
In October 2009, the French government organized a national-wide, free of charge vaccination campaign against pandemic H1N1 influenza virus, especially targeting pregnant women, a high risk group for severe illness. The study objective was to evaluate pandemic flu vaccine uptake and factors associated with non-vaccination in a population of pregnant women.
In a prospective cohort conducted in 3 maternity hospitals in Paris, 882 pregnant women were randomly included between October 12, 2009 and February 3, 2010, with the aim to study characteristics of pandemic influenza during pregnancy. At inclusion, socio-demographic, medical, obstetrical factors and those associated with a higher risk of flu exposition and disease-spreading were systematically collected. Pandemic flu vaccine uptake was checked until delivery. 555 (62.9%) women did not get vaccinated. Determinants associated with non-vaccination in a multivariate logistic regression were: geographic origin (Sub-Saharan African origin, adjusted Odd Ratio aOR = 5.4[2.3–12.7], North African origin, aOR = 2.5[1.3–4.7] and Asian origin, aOR = 2.1[1.7–2.6] compared to French and European origin) and socio-professional categories (farmers, craftsmen and tradesmen, aOR = 2.3[2.0–2.6], intermediate professionals, aOR = 1.3[1.0–1.6], employees and manual workers, aOR = 2.5[1.4–4.4] compared to managers and intellectual professionals). The probability of not receiving pandemic flu vaccine was lower among women vaccinated against seasonal flu in the previous 5 years (aOR = 0.6[0.4–0.8]) and among those who stopped smoking before or early during pregnancy (aOR = 0.6[0.4–0.8]). Number of children less than 18 years old living at home, work in contact with children or in healthcare area, or professional contact with the public, were not associated with a higher vaccine uptake.
In this cohort of pregnant women, vaccine coverage against pandemic 2009 A/H1N1 flu was low, particularly in immigrant women and those having a low socio-economic status. To improve its effectiveness, future vaccination campaign for pregnant women should be more specifically tailored for these populations.
During the 2009 influenza pandemic, pregnant women were at particular risk of serious influenza illness. This concern was further complicated by questions about vaccine safety in pregnant women raised by anecdotal reports of fetal deaths following vaccination.
We explored the safety of influenza vaccination of pregnant women by linking Norwegian national registries and medical consultation data to determine influenza diagnosis, vaccination status, birth outcomes, and background information for pregnant women before, during, and after the pandemic. We used Cox regression models to estimate hazard ratios of fetal death, with gestational day as the time metric and vaccination and pandemic exposure as time-dependent exposure variables.
There were 117,347 eligible pregnancies in Norway in 2009–2010. Fetal mortality was 4.9/1000. 54% of pregnant women in their second or third trimester during the pandemic were vaccinated. Vaccination in pregnancy substantially reduced the risk of influenza diagnosis (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.25 to 0.34). A clinical diagnosis of influenza in the mother increased the risk of fetal death (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.91; 95% CI, 1.07 to 3.41). Among pregnant women, the risk of fetal death was lower with vaccination, although this reduction was not statistically significant (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.66 to 1.17).
Pandemic influenza in pregnancy was associated with increased risk of fetal death. Vaccination during pregnancy reduced the risk of influenza diagnosis. Vaccination itself did not increase fetal mortality, and may have reduced the risk of influenza-related fetal death during the pandemic.
Pandemic vaccination; influenza; influenza A(H1N1)pdm09; pandemic; pregnancy; fetal death; miscarriage; abortions; stillbirth; Norway; registry; register; population
Every pregnant woman faces risk of life-threatening obstetric complications. A birth-preparedness package promotes active preparation and assists in decision-making for healthcare seeking in case of such complications. The aim was to assess factors associated with birth preparedness and complication-readiness as well as the level of male participation in the birth plan among emergency obstetric referrals in rural Uganda.
This was a cross-sectional study conducted at Kabale regional hospital maternity ward among 140 women admitted as emergency obstetric referrals in antenatal, labor or the postpartum period. Data was collected on socio-demographics and birth preparedness and what roles spouses were involved in during developing the birth plan. Any woman who attended antenatal care at least 4 times, received health education on pregnancy and childbirth danger signs, saved money for emergencies, made a plan of where to deliver from and made preparations for a birth companion, was deemed as having made a birth plan. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to analyze factors that were independently associated with having a birth plan.
The mean age was 26.8 ± 6.6 years, while mean age of the spouse was 32.8 ± 8.3 years. Over 100 (73.8%) women and 75 (55.2%) of their spouses had no formal education or only primary level of education respectively. On multivariable analysis, Primigravidae compared to multigravidae, OR 1.8 95%CI (1.0-3.0), education level of spouse of secondary or higher versus primary level or none, OR 3.8 95%CI (1.2-11.0), formal occupation versus informal occupation of spouse, OR 1.6 95%CI (1.1-2.5), presence of pregnancy complications OR 1.4 95%CI (1.1-2.0) and the anticipated mode of delivery of caesarean section versus vaginal delivery, OR 1.6 95%CI (1.0-2.4) were associated with having a birth plan.
Individual women, families and communities need to be empowered to contribute positively to making pregnancy safer by making a birth plan.
The US Preventive Services Task Force has recommended daily folic acid supplementation for women planning on becoming pregnant in an effort to prevent fetal neural tube defects. We evaluated pregnant patients presenting to the emergency department to determine rates of folic acid supplementation.
We surveyed a convenience sample of pregnant patients who presented to the University of Utah Emergency Department (ED) between 1 January 2008, and 30 April 2009, regarding pregnancy history and prior medical care.
One hundred thirty-five patients participated in the study. Eighty-four patients (62.2%) reported current folic acid supplementation. Sixty-six patients identified themselves as Caucasian and 69 as non-Caucasian race. There was a significant difference in folic acid use between Caucasian and non-Caucasian women (p = 0.035). The majority of Caucasian women (71.2%) reported daily folic acid use versus approximately one-half of non-Caucasian women (53.6%). Both groups were similar in accessing a primary care provider (PCP) for pregnancy care prior to the ED visit (53% vs. 49.3%, p = 0.663), and rates of folic acid use were similar in those who had seen a PCP (85.7% vs. 76.5%, p = 0.326). Language did not have a significant association with folic acid use.
A large percentage of pregnant ED patients did not report current folic use, and there was a significant difference between Caucasian and non-Caucasian women in rates of folic acid supplementation. This study highlights the potential role of the ED in screening patients for folic acid supplementation.