PMCC PMCC

Search tips
Search criteria

Advanced
Results 1-25 (817630)

Clipboard (0)
None

Related Articles

1.  New research models and novel signal analysis in studies on preterm labor: a key to progress? 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2007;7(Suppl 1):S6.
Preterm labor affects up to 20% of pregnancies, is considered a main cause of associated neonatal morbidity and mortality and is responsible for neonatal care costs of multimillion euros. In spite of that, the commercial market for this clinical indication is rather limited, which may be also related to high liability. Consequently, with only a few exceptions, preterm labor is not in the orbit of great interest of the pharmaceutical industry. Coordinated effort of research community may bring the change and help required to reduce the influence of this multifactorial syndrome on society. Between the novel techniques that are being explored in a SAFE (The Special Non-Invasive Advances in Fetal and Neonatal Evaluation Network) group, there are new research models of preterm labor as well as novel methodology of analysis of biological signals. In this article, we briefly describe new clinical and nonclinical human models of preterm labor as well as summarize some novel methods of data processing and analysis that may be used in the context of preterm labor.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-S1-S6
PMCID: PMC1892063  PMID: 17570166
2.  Immersion in water in labour and birth 
Background
Enthusiasts suggest that labouring in water and waterbirth increase maternal relaxation, reduce analgesia requirements and promote a midwifery model of care. Critics cite the risk of neonatal water inhalation and maternal/neonatal infection.
Objectives
To assess the evidence from randomised controlled trials about immersion in water during labour and waterbirth on maternal, fetal, neonatal and caregiver outcomes.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (30 June 2011) and reference lists of retrieved studies.
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials comparing immersion in any bath tub/pool with no immersion, or other non-pharmacological forms of pain management during labour and/or birth, in women during labour who were considered to be at low risk of complications, as defined by the researchers.
Data collection and analysis
We assessed trial eligibility and quality and extracted data independently. One review author entered data and the other checked for accuracy.
Main results
This review includes 12 trials (3243 women): eight related to just the first stage of labour: one to early versus late immersion in the first stage of labour; two to the first and second stages; and another to the second stage only. We identified no trials evaluating different baths/pools, or the management of third stage of labour.
Results for the first stage of labour showed there was a significant reduction in the epidural/spinal/paracervical analgesia/anaesthesia rate amongst women allocated to water immersion compared to controls (478/1254 versus 529/1245; risk ratio (RR) 0.90; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.82 to 0.99, six trials). There was also a reduction in duration of the first stage of labour (mean difference −32.4 minutes; 95% CI −58.7 to −6.13). There was no difference in assisted vaginal deliveries (RR 0.86; 95% CI 0.71 to 1.05, seven trials), caesarean sections (RR 1.21; 95% CI 0.87 to 1.68, eight trials), use of oxytocin infusion (RR 0.64; 95%CI 0.32 to 1.28,five trials), perineal trauma or maternal infection. There were no differences for Apgar score less than seven at five minutes (RR 1.58; 95% CI 0.63 to 3.93, five trials), neonatal unit admissions (RR 1.06; 95% CI 0.71 to 1.57, three trials), or neonatal infection rates (RR 2.00; 95% CI 0.50 to 7.94, five trials).
Of the three trials that compared water immersion during the second stage with no immersion, one trial showed a significantly higher level of satisfaction with the birth experience (RR 0.24; 95% CI 0.07 to 0.80).
A lack of data for some comparisons prevented robust conclusions. Further research is needed.
Authors’ conclusions
Evidence suggests that water immersion during the first stage of labour reduces the use of epidural/spinal analgesia and duration of the first stage of labour. There is limited information for other outcomes related to water use during the first and second stages of labour, due to intervention and outcome variability. There is no evidence of increased adverse effects to the fetus/neonate or woman from labouring in water or waterbirth. However, the studies are very variable and considerable heterogeneity was detected for some outcomes. Further research is needed.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000111.pub3
PMCID: PMC3982045  PMID: 19370552
3.  Preterm birth 
Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:1404.
Introduction
Preterm birth occurs in about 5% to 10% of all births in resource-rich countries, but in recent years the incidence seems to have increased in some countries, particularly in the USA. We found little reliable evidence for incidence in resource-poor countries. The rate in northwestern Ethiopia has been reported to vary from 11% to 22%, depending on the age group of mothers studied, and is highest in teenage mothers.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of preventive interventions in women at high risk of preterm delivery? What are the effects of interventions to improve neonatal outcome after preterm rupture of membranes? What are the effects of treatments to stop contractions in preterm labour? What are the effects of elective compared with selective caesarean delivery for women in preterm labour? What are the effects of interventions to improve neonatal outcome in preterm delivery? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to June 2010 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 58 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review, we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: amnioinfusion for preterm rupture of membranes, antenatal corticosteroids, antibiotic treatment, bed rest, beta-mimetics, calcium channel blockers, elective caesarean, enhanced antenatal care programmes, magnesium sulphate, oxytocin receptor antagonists (atosiban), progesterone, prophylactic cervical cerclage, prostaglandin inhibitors (e.g., indometacin), selective caesarean, and thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) (plus corticosteroids).
Key Points
Around 5% to 10% of all births in resource-rich countries occur before 37 weeks' gestation, leading to increased risks of neonatal and infant death, and of neurological disability in surviving infants.
Progesterone may reduce preterm birth in women with prior preterm birth and a short cervix, but are unlikely to be beneficial and may even be harmful in women with multiple gestations.
Enhanced antenatal care programmes and bed rest have repeatedly been shown to be ineffective or harmful. Prophylactic cervical cerclage may reduce preterm births in women with cervical changes but is unlikely to be effective — and may increase infection — in women with no cervical changes or with twin pregnancies. We don't know how effective it is in women with protruding membranes.
A single course of antenatal corticosteroids reduces respiratory distress syndrome, intraventricular haemorrhage, and neonatal mortality compared with placebo in babies born before 37 weeks' gestation. Adding TRH to corticosteroids has not been shown to improve outcomes compared with corticosteroids alone, and increases the risk of adverse effects.
Antibiotics may prolong the pregnancy and reduce infection after premature rupture of the membranes, but are not beneficial when the membranes are intact.
It is unclear if amnioinfusion for preterm rupture of membranes reduces preterm birth or neonatal mortality, as we found few RCTs.
Calcium channel blockers may be effective at delaying labour compared with other tocolytics. Beta-mimetics and magnesium sulphate do not prevent premature birth, and may increase fetal and maternal adverse effects compared with placebo. Oxytocin receptor antagonists (such as atosiban) and prostaglandin inhibitors (such as indometacin) may prevent preterm delivery but we cannot be certain as we found few trials.Most tocolytic therapies don't prevent perinatal mortality or morbidity, although trials of these treatments are usually underpowered to detect clinically significant differences in these outcomes.
Elective caesarean section increases maternal morbidity compared with selective caesarean section, but rates of neonatal morbidity and mortality seem equivalent.
PMCID: PMC3217816  PMID: 21463540
4.  Preterm birth 
Clinical Evidence  2010;2010:1404.
Introduction
Preterm birth occurs in about 5% to 10% of all births in resource-rich countries, but in recent years the incidence seems to have increased in some countries, particularly in the USA. We found little reliable evidence for incidence in resource-poor countries. The rate in northwestern Ethiopia has been reported to vary from 11% to 22%, depending on the age group of mothers studied, and is highest in teenage mothers.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of preventive interventions in women at high risk of preterm delivery? What are the effects of interventions to improve neonatal outcome after preterm rupture of membranes? What are the effects of treatments to stop contractions in preterm labour? What are the effects of elective compared with selective caesarean delivery for women in preterm labour? What are the effects of interventions to improve neonatal outcome in preterm delivery? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to June 2009 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 58 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review, we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: amnioinfusion for preterm rupture of membranes; antenatal corticosteroids; antibiotic treatment; bed rest; beta mimetics; calcium-channel blockers; elective caesarean; enhanced antenatal care programmes; magnesium sulphate; oxytocin receptor antagonists (atosiban); progesterone; prophylactic cervical cerclage; prostaglandin inhibitors (e.g., indometacin); selective caesarean; and thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) (plus corticosteroids).
Key Points
Around 5% to 10% of all births in resource-rich countries occur before 37 weeks' gestation, leading to increased risks of neonatal and infant death, and of neurological disability in surviving infants.
Progestational agents such as progesterone and prophylactic cervical cerclage may reduce preterm birth when used in some high-risk women, but enhanced antenatal care programmes and bed rest have repeatedly shown to be ineffective or harmful. Prophylactic cervical cerclage may reduce preterm births in women with cervical changes or protruding membranes, but is unlikely to be effective — and may increase infection — in women with no cervical changes or with twin pregnancies.
A single course of antenatal corticosteroids reduces respiratory distress syndrome, intraventricular haemorrhage, and neonatal mortality compared with placebo in babies born before 37 weeks' gestation. Adding TRH to corticosteroids has not been shown to improve outcomes compared with corticosteroids alone, and increases the risk of adverse effects.
Antibiotics may prolong the pregnancy and reduce infection after premature rupture of the membranes, but are not beneficial when the membranes are intact.
Calcium-channel blockers may be effective at delaying labour compared with other tocolytics. Beta mimetics and magnesium sulphate do not prevent premature birth, and may increase fetal and maternal adverse effects compared with placebo. Oxytocin receptor antagonists (such as atosiban) and prostaglandin inhibitors (such as indometacin) may prevent preterm delivery.Most tocolytic therapies don't prevent perinatal mortality or morbidity, although they are usually underpowered to detect clinically significant differences in these outcomes.
Elective caesarean section increases maternal morbidity compared with selective caesarean section, but neonatal morbidity and mortality seem the same.
PMCID: PMC2907606
5.  The Effect of Changing Patterns of Obstetric Care in Scotland (1980–2004) on Rates of Preterm Birth and Its Neonatal Consequences: Perinatal Database Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(9):e1000153.
Jane Norman and colleagues analyzed linked perinatal surveillance data in Scotland and find that between 1980 and 2004 increases in spontaneous and medically induced preterm births contributed equally to the rising rate of preterm births.
Background
Rates of preterm birth are rising worldwide. Studies from the United States and Latin America suggest that much of this rise relates to increased rates of medically indicated preterm birth. In contrast, European and Australian data suggest that increases in spontaneous preterm labour also play a role. We aimed, in a population-based database of 5 million people, to determine the temporal trends and obstetric antecedents of singleton preterm birth and its associated neonatal mortality and morbidity for the period 1980–2004.
Methods and Findings
There were 1.49 million births in Scotland over the study period, of which 5.8% were preterm. We found a percentage increase in crude rates of both spontaneous preterm birth per 1,000 singleton births (10.7%, p<0.01) and medically indicated preterm births (41.2%, p<0.01), which persisted when adjusted for maternal age at delivery. The greater proportion of spontaneous preterm births meant that the absolute increase in rates of preterm birth in each category were similar. Of specific maternal complications, essential and pregnancy-induced hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and placenta praevia played a decreasing role in preterm birth over the study period, with gestational and pre-existing diabetes playing an increasing role. There was a decline in stillbirth, neonatal, and extended perinatal mortality associated with preterm birth at all gestation over the study period but an increase in the rate of prolonged hospital stay for the neonate. Neonatal mortality improved in all subgroups, regardless of obstetric antecedent of preterm birth or gestational age. In the 28 wk and greater gestational groups we found a reduction in stillbirths and extended perinatal mortality for medically induced but not spontaneous preterm births (in the absence of maternal complications) although at the expense of a longer stay in neonatal intensive care. This improvement in stillbirth and neonatal mortality supports the decision making behind the 34% increase in elective/induced preterm birth in these women. Although improvements in neonatal outcomes overall are welcome, preterm birth still accounts for over 66% of singleton stillbirths, 65% of singleton neonatal deaths, and 67% of infants whose stay in the neonatal unit is “prolonged,” suggesting this condition remains a significant contributor to perinatal mortality and morbidity.
Conclusions
In our population, increases in spontaneous and medically induced preterm births have made equal contributions to the rising rate of preterm birth. Despite improvements in related perinatal mortality, preterm birth remains a major obstetric and neonatal problem, and its frequency is increasing.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Most pregnancies last about 40 weeks but increasing numbers of babies are being born preterm, before they reach 37 weeks of gestation (gestation is the period during which a baby develops in its mother). Nowadays in the US, for example, more than half a million babies arrive earlier than expected every year (1 in 8 babies). Although improvements in the care of newborn babies (neonatal care) mean that preterm babies are more likely to survive than in the past, preterm birth remains the single biggest cause of infant death in many developed countries, and many preterm babies who survive have long-term health problems and disabilities, particularly those born before 32 weeks of gestation. Preterm births can be spontaneous or medically induced. At present, it impossible to predict which mothers will spontaneously deliver early and there is no effective way to prevent these preterm births; medically induced early labor is undertaken when either the unborn baby or mother would be at risk if the pregnancy continued to full term.
Why Was This Study Done?
Preterm birth rates need to be reduced, but before this can be done it is important to know how the causes of preterm birth, the numbers of preterm stillbirths, and the numbers of preterm babies who die at birth (neonatal deaths) or soon after (perinatal deaths) are changing with time. If, for example, the rise in preterm births is mainly due to an increase in medically induced labor and if this change in practice has reduced neonatal deaths, it would be unwise to try to reduce the preterm birth rate by discouraging medically induced preterm births. So far, data from the US and Latin America suggest that the increase in preterm births in these countries is solely due to increased rates of medically induced preterm births. However, in Europe and Australia, the rate of spontaneous preterm births also seems to be increasing. In this study, the researchers examine the trends over time and causes of preterm birth and of neonatal death and illness in Scotland over a 25-year period.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
By searching a Scottish database of linked maternity records and infant health and death records, the researchers identified 1.49 million singleton births that occurred between 1980 and 2004 of which nearly 90,000 were preterm births. Over the study period, the rates of spontaneous and of medically induced preterm births per 1,000 births increased by 10.7% and 41.2%, respectively, but because there were more spontaneous preterm births than medically induced preterm births, the absolute increase in the rates of each type of birth was similar. Several maternal complications including preeclampsia (a condition that causes high blood pressure) and placenta previa (covering of the opening of the cervix by the placenta) played a decreasing role in preterm births over the study period, whereas gestational and preexisting diabetes played an increasing role. Finally, there was a decline in stillbirths and in neonatal and perinatal deaths among preterm babies, although more babies remained in the hospital longer than 7 days after birth. More specifically, after 28 weeks of gestation, stillbirths and perinatal deaths decreased among medically induced preterm births but not among spontaneous preterm births.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that in Scotland between 1980 and 2004, increases in spontaneous and medically induced preterm births contributed equally to the rising rate of preterm births. Importantly, they also show that the increase in induced preterm births helped to reduce stillbirths and neonatal and perinatal deaths, a finding that supports the criteria that clinicians currently use to decide whether to induce an early birth. Nevertheless, preterm births still account for two-thirds of all stillbirths, neonatal deaths, and extended neonatal stays in hospital and thus cause considerable suffering and greatly increase the workload in neonatal units. The rates of such births consequently need to be reduced and, for Scotland at least, ways will have to be found to reduce the rates of both spontaneous and induced preterm births to achieve this goal while continuing to identify those sick babies who need to be delivered early to give them the best chance of survival.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000153
Tommys is a nonprofit organization that funds research and provides information on the causes and prevention of miscarriage, premature birth, and stillbirth
The March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, provides information on preterm birth (in English and Spanish)
The Nemours Foundation, another nonprofit organization for child health, also provides information on premature babies (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on maternal and infant health (in English and Spanish)
The US National Women's Health Information Center has detailed information about pregnancy, including a section on pregnancy complications
MedlinePlus provides links to other information on premature babies and to information on pregnancy (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000153
PMCID: PMC2740823  PMID: 19771156
6.  Randomized Controlled Trials in Pregnancy: Scientific and Ethical Aspects Exposure to different opioid medications during pregnancy in an intra-individual comparison 
Addiction (Abingdon, England)  2011;106(7):1355-1362.
Background
Chronic medical conditions such as opioid dependence require evidence-based treatment recommendations. However, pregnant women are underrepresented in clinical trials. We describe the first within-subject comparison of maternal and neonatal outcomes for methadone vs. buprenorphine exposed pregnancies. Though methadone is the established treatment of pregnant opioid dependent women, recent investigations have shown a trend for a milder neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) under buprenorphine. However, it is not only the choice of maintenance medication that determines the occurrence of NAS, other factors such as maternal metabolism, illicit substance abuse and nicotine consumption also influence its severity and duration and represent confounding factors in the assessment of randomized clinical trials.
Case series description
Three women who were part of the European cohort of a randomized, double-blind multicenter trial with a contingency management tool [the Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research (MOTHER) study], each had two consecutive pregnancies and were maintained on either methadone or buprenorphine for their first and then the respective opposite, still-blinded medication for their second pregnancy. Birth measurements, the total neonatal abstinence score, the total amounts of medication used to treat NAS and the days of NAS treatment duration were assessed.
Results
Both medications were effective and safe in reducing illicit opioid relapse and avoiding preterm labour. Methadone maintenance yielded to a significantly higher neonatal birth weight. Data patterns suggest that buprenorphine-exposure was associated with lower neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) scores. Findings from this unique case series are consistent with earlier reports using between-group analyses.
Conclusions
Buprenorphine has the potential to become an established treatment alternative to methadone for pregnant opioid dependent women. Under special consideration of ethical boundaries, psychopharmacological treatment during pregnancy must be addressed as an integral part of clinical research projects in order to optimize treatment for women and neonates.
doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03440.x
PMCID: PMC3107876  PMID: 21438938
opioid dependence; methadone; buprenorphine; pregnancy; neonatal abstinence syndrome
7.  Birth order, gestational age, and risk of delivery related perinatal death in twins: retrospective cohort study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7371):1004.
Objective
To determine whether twins born second are at increased risk of perinatal death because of complications during labour and delivery.
Design
Retrospective cohort study.
Setting
Scotland, 1992 and 1997.
Participants
All twin births at or after 24 weeks' gestation, excluding twin pairs in which either twin died before labour or delivery or died during or after labour and delivery because of congenital abnormality, non-immune hydrops, or twin to twin transfusion syndrome.
Main outcome measure
Delivery related perinatal deaths (deaths during labour or the neonatal period).
Results
Overall, delivery related perinatal deaths were recorded for 23 first twins only and 23 second twins only of 1438 twin pairs born before 36 weeks (preterm) by means other than planned caesarean section (P>0.99). No deaths of first twins and nine deaths of second twins (P=0.004) were recorded among the 2436 twin pairs born at or after 36 weeks (term). Discordance between first and second twins differed significantly in preterm and term births (P=0.007). Seven of nine deaths of second twins at term were due to anoxia during the birth (2.9 (95% confidence interval 1.2 to 5.9) per 1000); five of these deaths were associated with mechanical problems with the second delivery following vaginal delivery of the first twin. No deaths were recorded among 454 second twins delivered at term by planned caesarean section.
Conclusions
Second twins born at term are at higher risk than first twins of death due to complications of delivery. Previous studies may not have shown an increased risk because of inadequate categorisation of deaths, lack of statistical power, inappropriate analyses, and pooling of data about preterm births and term births.
What is already known on this topicIt is difficult to assess the wellbeing of second twins during labourDeliveries of second twins are at increased risk of mechanical problems, such as cord prolapse and malpresentation, after vaginal delivery of first twinsIncreased risks of perinatal death in second twins have not been shown, but the methods of these studies were flawedWhat this study addsSecond twins delivered at term are at increased risk of delivery related perinatal deathsIntrapartum anoxia caused 75% of these deaths in second twins, and most of these resulted from mechanical problems after vaginal delivery of first twinsPlanned caesarean section of twins at term may prevent perinatal deaths
PMCID: PMC131015  PMID: 12411358
8.  Post-neonatal Mortality, Morbidity, and Developmental Outcome after Ultrasound-Dated Preterm Birth in Rural Malawi: A Community-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(11):e1001121.
Using data collected as a follow-up to a randomized trial, Melissa Gladstone and colleagues show that during the first two years of life, infants born preterm in southern Malawi are disadvantaged in terms of mortality, growth, and development.
Background
Preterm birth is considered to be associated with an estimated 27% of neonatal deaths, the majority in resource-poor countries where rates of prematurity are high. There is no information on medium term outcomes after accurately determined preterm birth in such settings.
Methods and Findings
This community-based stratified cohort study conducted between May–December 2006 in Southern Malawi followed up 840 post-neonatal infants born to mothers who had received antenatal antibiotic prophylaxis/placebo in an attempt to reduce rates of preterm birth (APPLe trial ISRCTN84023116). Gestational age at delivery was based on ultrasound measurement of fetal bi-parietal diameter in early-mid pregnancy. 247 infants born before 37 wk gestation and 593 term infants were assessed at 12, 18, or 24 months. We assessed survival (death), morbidity (reported by carer, admissions, out-patient attendance), growth (weight and height), and development (Ten Question Questionnaire [TQQ] and Malawi Developmental Assessment Tool [MDAT]). Preterm infants were at significantly greater risk of death (hazard ratio 1.79, 95% CI 1.09–2.95). Surviving preterm infants were more likely to be underweight (weight-for-age z score; p<0.001) or wasted (weight-for-length z score; p<0.01) with no effect of gestational age at delivery. Preterm infants more often screened positively for disability on the Ten Question Questionnaire (p = 0.002). They also had higher rates of developmental delay on the MDAT at 18 months (p = 0.009), with gestational age at delivery (p = 0.01) increasing this likelihood. Morbidity—visits to a health centre (93%) and admissions to hospital (22%)—was similar for both groups.
Conclusions
During the first 2 years of life, infants who are born preterm in resource poor countries, continue to be at a disadvantage in terms of mortality, growth, and development. In addition to interventions in the immediate neonatal period, a refocus on early childhood is needed to improve outcomes for infants born preterm in low-income settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Being born at term in Africa is not necessarily straightforward. In Malawi, 33 of every 1,000 infants born die in the first 28 days after birth; the lifetime risk for a mother dying during or shortly after pregnancy is one in 36. The comparable figures for the United Kingdom are three infants dying per 1,000 births and a lifetime risk of maternal death of one in 4,700. But for a baby, being born preterm is even more risky and the gap between low- and high-income countries widens still further. According to a World Health Organization report in 2010, a baby born at 32 weeks of gestation (weighing around 2,000 g) in Africa has little chance of survival, while the chances of survival for a baby born at 32 weeks in North America or Europe are similar to one born at term. There are very few data on the longer term outcomes of babies born preterm in Africa and there are multiple challenges involved in gathering such information. As prenatal ultrasound is not routinely available, gestational age is often uncertain. There may be little routine follow-up of preterm babies as is commonplace in high-income countries. Data are needed from recent years that take into account both improvements in perinatal care and adverse factors such as a rising number of infants becoming HIV positive around the time of birth.
Why Was This Study Done?
We could improve outcomes for babies born preterm in sub-Saharan Africa if we understood more about what happens to them after birth. We cannot assume that the progress of these babies will be the same as those born preterm in a high-income country, as the latter group will have received different care, both before and after birth. If we can document the problems that these preterm babies face in a low-income setting, we can consider why they happen and what treatments can be realistically tested in this setting. It is also helpful to establish baseline data so that changes over time can be recorded.
The aim of this study was to document four specific outcomes up to the age of two years, on which there were few data previously from rural sub-Saharan Africa: how many babies survived, visits to a health center and admissions to the hospital, growth, and developmental delay.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers examined a group of babies that had been born to mothers who had taken part in a randomized controlled trial of an antibiotic to prevent preterm birth. The trial had previously shown that the antibiotic (azithromycin) had no effect on how many babies were born preterm or on other measures of the infants' wellbeing, and so the researchers followed up babies from both arms of the trial to look at longer term outcomes. From the original group of 2,297 women who took part in the trial, they compared 247 infants born preterm against 593 term infants randomly chosen as controls, assessed at 12, 18, or 24 months. The majority of the preterm babies who survived past a month of age (all but ten) were born after 32 weeks of gestation. Compared to the babies born at term, the infants born preterm were nearly twice as likely to die subsequently in the next two years, were more likely to be underweight (a third were moderately underweight), and to have higher rates of developmental delay. The commonest causes of death were gastroenteritis, respiratory problems, and malaria. Visits to a health center and admissions to hospital were similar in both groups.
What Do these Findings Mean?
This study documents longer term outcomes of babies born preterm in sub-Saharan Africa in detail for the first time. The strengths of the study include prenatal ultrasound dating and correct adjustment of follow-up age (which takes into account being born before term). Because the researchers defined morbidity using routine health center attendances and self-report of illnesses by parents, this outcome does not seem to have been as useful as the others in differentiating between the preterm and term babies. Better means of measuring morbidity are needed in this setting.
In the developed world, there is considerable investment being made to improve care during pregnancy and in the neonatal period. This investment in care may help by predicting which mothers are more likely to give birth early and preventing preterm birth through drug or other treatments. It is to be hoped that some of the benefit will be transferable to low-income countries. A baby born at 26 weeks' gestation and admitted to a neonatal unit in the United Kingdom has a 67% chance of survival; preterm babies born in sub-Saharan Africa face a starkly contrasting future.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001121.
UNICEF presents useful statistics on mother and child outcomes
The World Health Organization has attempted to analyse preterm birth rates worldwide, including mapping the regional distribution and has also produced practical guides on strategies such as Kangaroo Mother Care, which can be used for the care of preterm infants in low resource settings
Healthy Newborn Network has good information on initiatives taking place to improve neonatal outcomes in low income settings
The March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, provides information on research being conducted into preterm birth
Tommy's is a nonprofit organization that funds research and provides information on the risks and causes of premature birth
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001121
PMCID: PMC3210771  PMID: 22087079
9.  Analysis of preterm deliveries below 35 weeks' gestation in a tertiary referral hospital in the UK. A case-control survey 
BMC Research Notes  2010;3:119.
Background
Preterm birth remains a major public health problem and its incidence worldwide is increasing. Epidemiological risk factors have been investigated in the past, but there is a need for a better understanding of the causes of preterm birth in well defined obstetric populations in tertiary referral centres; it is important to repeat surveillance and identify possible changes in clinical and socioeconomic factors associated with preterm delivery. The aim of this study was to identify current risk factors associated with preterm delivery and highlight areas for further research.
Findings
We studied women with singleton deliveries at St Michael's Hospital, Bristol during 2002 and 2003. 274 deliveries between 23-35 weeks' gestation (preterm group), were compared to 559 randomly selected control deliveries at term (37-42 weeks) using standard statistical procedures. Both groups were >80% Caucasian. Previous preterm deliveries, high maternal age (> 39 years), socioeconomic problems, smoking during pregnancy, hypertension, psychiatric disorders and uterine abnormalities were significantly associated with preterm deliveries. Both lean and obese mothers were more common in the preterm group. Women with depression/psychiatric disease were significantly more likely to have social problems, to have smoked during pregnancy and to have had previous preterm deliveries; when adjustments for these three factors were made the relationship between psychiatric disease and pregnancy outcome was no longer significant. 53% of preterm deliveries were spontaneous, and were strongly associated with episodes of threatened preterm labour. Medically indicated preterm deliveries were associated with hypertension and fetal growth restriction. Preterm premature rupture of the membranes, vaginal bleeding, anaemia and oligohydramnios were significantly increased in both spontaneous and indicated preterm deliveries compared to term controls.
Conclusions
More than 50% of preterm births are potentially preventable, but remain associated with risk factors such as increased uterine contractility, preterm premature rupture of the membranes and uterine bleeding whose aetiology is unknown. Despite remarkable advances in perinatal care, preterm birth continues to cause neonatal deaths and long-term morbidity. Significant breakthroughs in the management of preterm birth are likely to come from research into the mechanisms of human parturition and the pathophysiology of preterm labour using multidisciplinary clinical and laboratory approaches.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-119
PMCID: PMC2877057  PMID: 20426852
10.  Proceedings of the first workshop on Peripheral Machine Interfaces: going beyond traditional surface electromyography 
One of the hottest topics in rehabilitation robotics is that of proper control of prosthetic devices. Despite decades of research, the state of the art is dramatically behind the expectations. To shed light on this issue, in June, 2013 the first international workshop on Present and future of non-invasive peripheral nervous system (PNS)–Machine Interfaces (MI; PMI) was convened, hosted by the International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics. The keyword PMI has been selected to denote human–machine interfaces targeted at the limb-deficient, mainly upper-limb amputees, dealing with signals gathered from the PNS in a non-invasive way, that is, from the surface of the residuum. The workshop was intended to provide an overview of the state of the art and future perspectives of such interfaces; this paper represents is a collection of opinions expressed by each and every researcher/group involved in it.
doi:10.3389/fnbot.2014.00022
PMCID: PMC4133701  PMID: 25177292
human–machine interfaces; prosthetics; rehabilitation robotics; EMG; prosthetic control
11.  Identification of neonatal near miss by systematic screening for metabolic acidosis at birth 
Facts, Views & Vision in ObGyn  2011;3(4):281-285.
Aims: To evaluate the relevance of systematic screening for neonatal metabolic acidosis at birth as part of perinatal audit.
Methods: For every baby, born in Ziekenhuis Oost Limburg, Genk Belgium between 1/1/2010 and 31/12/2010, cord blood was analysed to diagnose metabolic acidosis, defined as arterial or venous pH ≤ 7.05 or 7.17 respectively, in association with base excess of ≤ -10 mmol/L. Three observers identified indicators for suboptimal peripartal care with likely contribution to metabolic acidosis. In a multidisciplinary consensus meeting, these indicators were classified into 5 categories : (a) fetal monitoring error (b) labour management error, (c) instrumental vaginal delivery for fetal distress within 2 h of second stage, (d) non-obstetric medical complications, (e) preterm births or accidental cases at term.
Results: In a total of 2117 neonates, there were 11 intra-uterine, 1 intrapartum and 3 early neonatal deaths, bringing early perinatal mortality rate at 7.1‰. Metabolic acidosis was identified in 23 (1.1%) babies, of which 21 (91.3%) left hospital in good clinical condition. Two babies (0.9‰), born in category c, had chronic neurologic symptoms.
Discussion: Systematic screening for neonatal metabolic acidosis caused a 2.5-fold increase of case identifications eligible for perinatal audit and opened perspectives towards rationalised improvement of perinatal care, in addition to the information obtained from cases of perinatal mortality. Next to indicators of perinatal mortality, perinatal audit programs should include neonatal metabolic acidosis as an extra parameter for quality assessment of perinatal care.
Conclusion: Adding cases of near-miss neonatal morbidity to perinatal mortalities in perinatal audit programs increases opportunities for improvement of perinatal care.
PMCID: PMC3987470  PMID: 24753878
Birth asphyxia; metabolic acidosis; neonatal care; perinatal outcome; perinatal audit
12.  Overview. Preterm labour: mechanisms and management 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2007;7(Suppl 1):S2.
Preterm birth remains a major cause of perinatal mortality and long term handicap in surviving infants. This is one of the most important clinical problems in Europe and across the world. While some preterm births are iatrogenic, associated with severe complications of pregnancy (e.g. hypertensive disorders, antepartum haemorrhage, infection), or the result of multiple pregnancies following assisted reproduction, a high proportion of preterm births occur following spontaneous preterm labour of unknown cause. Early intervention in this group of women would have a significant impact on neonatal mortality and morbidity figures. However, the endocrine changes preceding parturition in women remain elusive and this makes it difficult to predict spontaneous labour at term, let alone preterm labour. Moreover our understanding of myometrial physiology remains rudimentary, limiting our options to devise improved pharmacological strategies to control uterine contractility when this is indicated. There is a need for concerted European and international research efforts to improve our knowledge of the mechanism of labour in women, to identify diagnostic markers to predict preterm labour and to develop uterine selective drugs to inhibit uterine contractions in a safe and efficient manner. This aim will be achieved by multidisciplinary research efforts from academics and industry, using traditional laboratory and clinical research methods, as well as novel technologies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-S1-S2
PMCID: PMC1892059  PMID: 17570162
13.  Two cases of fetal goiter 
Introduction:
Anterior fetal neck masses are rarely encountered. Careful routine ultrasound screening can reveal intrauterine fetal goiters (FGs). The incidence of goitrous hypothyroidism is 1 in 30,000-50,000 live births. The consequences of both FG and impaired thyroid function are serious.
Aims and Objectives:
To emphasize role of ultrasound in both invasive and non-invasive management of FG.
Materials and Methods:
Two pregnant patients, during second trimester, underwent routine antenatal ultrasound revealing FG, were investigated and managed.
Results:
Case 1: Revealed FG with fetal hypothyroidism. Intra-amniotic injection l-thyroxine given. Follow-up ultrasound confirmed the reduction of the goiter size. At birth, thyroid dyshormogenesis was suspected and neonate discharged on 50 mcg levothyroxine/day with normal growth and development so far. Case 2: Hypothyroid mother with twin pregnancy revealed FG, in twin 1, confirmed on magnetic resonance imaging (1.5 × 1.63 cm). The other twin had no thyroid swelling. Cordocentesis confirmed hypothyroidism in twin 1. Maternal thyroxine dose increased as per biochemical parameters leading to reduction in FG size. Mother delivered preterm and none of the twins had thyroid swelling. Fetal euthyroidism was confirmed on biochemical screening.
Conclusion:
FG during pregnancy should be thoroughly evaluated, diagnosed and immediately treated; although in utero options for fetal hypothyroidism management are available, emphasis should be laid on non-invasive procedures. Newer and better resolution techniques in ultrasonography are more specific and at the same time are less harmful.
doi:10.4103/2230-8210.104092
PMCID: PMC3603076  PMID: 23565428
Fetal goiter; hypothyroidism
14.  Impact of maternal body mass index on neonatal outcome 
Introduction
Maternal body mass index has an impact on maternal and fetal pregnancy outcome. An increased maternal BMI is known to be associated with admission of the newborn to a neonatal care unit. The reasons and impact of this admission on fetal outcome, however, are unknown so far.
Objective
The aim of our study was to investigate the impact of maternal BMI on maternal and fetal pregnancy outcome with special focus on the children admitted to a neonatal care unit.
Methods
A cohort of 2049 non-diabetic mothers giving birth in the Charite university hospital was prospectively studied. The impact of maternal BMI on maternal and fetal outcome parameters was tested using multivariate regression analysis. Outcome of children admitted to a neonatal ward (n = 505) was analysed.
Results
Increased maternal BMI was associated with an increased risk for hypertensive complications, peripheral edema, caesarean section, fetal macrosomia and admission of the newborn to a neonatal care unit, whereas decreased BMI was associated with preterm birth and lower birthweight. In the neonatal ward children from obese mothers are characterized by hypoglycaemia. They need less oxygen, and exhibit a shorter stay on the neonatal ward compared to children from normal weight mothers, whereas children from underweight mothers are characterized by lower umbilical blood pH and increased incidence of death corresponding to increased prevalence of preterm birth.
Conclusion
Pregnancy outcome is worst in babies from mothers with low body mass index as compared to healthy weight mothers with respect to increased incidence of preterm birth, lower birth weight and increased neonate mortality on the neonatal ward. We demonstrate that the increased risk for neonatal admission in children from obese mothers does not necessarily indicate severe fetal impairment.
doi:10.1186/2047-783X-14-5-216
PMCID: PMC3351981  PMID: 19541579
maternal BMI; fetal outcome
15.  Introduction to the special issue from the proceedings of the 2006 International Workshop on Virtual Reality in Rehabilitation 
New technologies are rapidly having a great impact on the development of novel rehabilitation interventions. One of the more popular of these technological advances is virtual reality. The wide range of applications of this technology, from immersive environments to tele-rehabilitation equipment and care, lends versatility to its use as a rehabilitation intervention. But increasing access to this technology requires that we further our understanding about its impact on a performer. The International Workshop on Virtual Reality in Rehabilitation (IWVR), now known as Virtual Rehabilitation 2007, is a conference that emerged from the need to discover how virtual reality could be applied to rehabilitation practice. Individuals from multiple disciplines concerned with the development, transmission, and evaluation of virtual reality as a technology applied to rehabilitation attend this meeting to share their work. In this special issue of the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation we are sharing some of the papers presented at the 2006 meeting of IWVR with the objective of offering a description of the state of the art in this research field. A perusal of these papers will provide a good cross-section of the emerging work in this area as well as inform the reader about new findings relevant to research and practice in rehabilitation.
doi:10.1186/1743-0003-4-18
PMCID: PMC1891302  PMID: 17553159
16.  Circulating hematopoietic stem cell count is a valuable predictor of prematurity complications in preterm newborns 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:148.
Background
The frequency of preterm labour has risen over the last few years. Hence, there is growing interest in the identification of markers that may facilitate prediction and prevention of premature birth complications. Here, we studied the association of the number of circulating stem cell populations with the incidence of complications typical of prematurity.
Methods
The study groups consisted of 90 preterm (23–36 weeks of gestational age) and 52 full-term (37–41 weeks) infants. Non-hematopoietic stem cells (non-HSCs; CD45-lin-CD184+), enriched in very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs), expressing pluripotent (Oct-4, Nanog), early neural (β-III-tubulin), and oligodendrocyte lineage (Olig-1) genes as well as hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs; CD45+lin-CD184+), and circulating stem/progenitor cells (CSPCs; CD133+CD34+; CD133-CD34+) in association with characteristics of prematurity and preterm morbidity were analyzed in cord blood (CB) and peripheral blood (PB) until the sixth week after delivery. Phenotype analysis was performed using flow cytometry methods. Clonogenic assays suitable for detection of human hematopoietic progenitor cells were also applied. The quantitative parameters were compared between groups by the Mann–Whitney test and between time points by the Friedman test. Fisher’s exact test was used for qualitative variables.
Results
We found that the number of CB non-HSCs/VSELs is inversely associated with the birth weight of preterm infants. More notably, a high number of CB HSCs is strongly associated with a lower risk of prematurity complications including intraventricular hemorrhage, respiratory distress syndrome, infections, and anemia. The number of HSCs remains stable for the first six weeks of postnatal life. Besides, the number of CSPCs in CB is significantly higher in preterm infants than in full-term neonates (p < 0.0001) and extensively decreases in preterm babies during next six weeks after birth. Finally, the growth of burst-forming unit of erythrocytes (BFU-E) and colony-forming units of granulocyte-macrophage (CFU-GM) obtained from CB of premature neonates is higher than those obtained from CB of full-term infants and strongly correlates with the number of CB-derived CSPCs.
Conclusion
We conclude that CB HSCs are markedly associated with the development of premature birth complications. Thus, HSCs ought to be considered as the potential target for further research as they may be relevant for predicting and controlling the morbidity of premature infants. Moreover, the observed levels of non-HSCs/VSELs circulating in CB are inversely associated with the birth weight of preterm infants, suggesting non-HSCs/VSELs might be involved in the maturation of fetal organism.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-148
PMCID: PMC3573966  PMID: 22985188
Hematopoietic stem cells; Very small embryonic-like stem cells; Peripheral blood circulating stem cells; Blood testing; Complications of prematurity; Premature infants
17.  Prediction of survival for preterm births by weight and gestational age: retrospective population based study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;319(7217):1093-1097.
Objective
To produce current data on survival of preterm infants.
Design
Retrospective population based study.
Setting
Trent health region.
Subjects
All European and Asian live births, stillbirths, and late fetal losses from 22 to 32 weeks' gestation, excluding those with major congenital malformations, in women resident in the Trent health region between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1997.
Main outcome measures
Birth weight and gestational age specific survival for both European and Asian infants (a) known to be alive at the onset of labour, and (b) admitted for neonatal care.
Results
738 deaths occurred in 3760 infants born between 22 and 32 weeks' gestation during the study period, giving an overall survival rate of 80.4%. The survival rate for the 3489 (92.8%) infants admitted for neonatal care was 86.6%. For European infants known to be alive at the onset of labour, significant variations in gestation specific survival by birth weight emerged from 24 weeks' gestation: survival ranged from 9% (95% confidence interval 7% to 13%) for infants of birth weight 250-499 g to 21% (16% to 28%) for those of 1000-1249 g. At 27 weeks' gestation, survival ranged from 55% (49% to 61%) for infants of birth weight 500-749 g (below the 10th centile) to 80% (76% to 85%) for those of 1250-1499 g. Infants who were large for dates (⩾27 weeks' gestation) had a slightly reduced, but not significant, predicted survival. Similar survival rates were observed for Asian infants. The odds ratio for the survival of infants from a multiple birth compared with singleton infants was 1.4 (1.1 to 1.8). Survival graphs for infants admitted for neonatal care are presented by sex.
Conclusion
Easy to use birth weight and gestational age specific predicted survival graphs for preterm infants facilitate decision making for clinicians and parents. It is important that these graphs are representative, are produced for a geographically defined population, and are not biased towards the outcomes of particular centres. Such graphs, produced in two stages, allow for the changing pattern of survival of infants from the start of the intrapartum period to immediately after admission for neonatal care.
Key messagesBirth weight and gestational age specific predicted survival graphs for preterm infants facilitate decision making for clinicians and parentsSurvival graphs should be representative and not biased towards the outcomes of particular centresPeriod specific graphs allow for the changing pattern of survival from the start of the intrapartum period to the immediate period after admission for neonatal careCauses of preterm delivery in singletons may lead to a poorer survival rate (controlled for gestation and birth weight) than those precipitated by multiple pregnancySurvival graphs need regular updating to allow for improvements in survival of infants
PMCID: PMC28258  PMID: 10531097
18.  A case of pregnancy with Rhesus antibody and bicornuate uterus - a favourable outcome: a case report 
Cases Journal  2010;3:50.
Introduction
In 1% of Rhesus negative women sensitisation occurs without any overt sensitising event during pregnancy. This accounts for late immunisation during a first pregnancy and is responsible for 18-27% of cases of alloimmunisation. The incidence of congenital uterine anomalies in a fertile population is 3.2% of which 5% are bicornuate uterus. Bicornuate uterus can lead to early miscarriages, preterm labor, fetal growth retardation and congenital malformations.
Case presentation
A 23-year-old lady in her first pregnancy developed Anti-D antibodies at 28 weeks of gestation without any known sensitising event. In view of increasing anti-D titres, at 36 weeks she was delivered. Incidentally during caesarean section she was found to have bicornuate uterus. The neonate was treated with phototherapy and blood transfusion following delivery.
Conclusion
Rhesus antibodies when managed by close monitoring and timely delivery can lead to favourable outcome. Bicornuate uterus does not always lead to complications like miscarriage, growth retardation or preterm labour and does not need any special intervention.
doi:10.1186/1757-1626-3-50
PMCID: PMC2827384  PMID: 20205895
19.  Accuracy of cervicovaginal fetal fibronectin test in predicting risk of spontaneous preterm birth: systematic review 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7359):301.
Objective
To determine the accuracy with which a cervicovaginal fetal fibronectin test predicts spontaneous preterm birth in women with or without symptoms of preterm labour.
Design
Systematic quantitative review of studies of test accuracy.
Data sources
Medline, Embase, PASCAL, Biosis, Cochrane Library, Medion, National Research Register, SCISEARCH, conference papers, manual searching of bibliographies of known primary and review articles, and contact with experts and manufacturer.
Study selection
Two reviewers independently selected and extracted data on study characteristics, quality, and accuracy.
Data extraction
Accuracy data were used to form 2×2 contingency tables with spontaneous preterm birth before 34 and 37 weeks' gestation and birth within 7-10 days of testing (for symptomatic pregnant women) as reference standards. Data were pooled to produce summary receiver operating characteristic curves and summary likelihood ratios for positive and negative test results.
Data synthesis
64 primary articles were identified, consisting of 28 studies in asymptomatic women and 40 in symptomatic women, with a total of 26 876 women. Among asymptomatic women the best summary likelihood ratio for positive results was 4.01 (95% confidence interval 2.93 to 5.49) for predicting birth before 34 weeks' gestation, with corresponding summary likelihood ratio for negative results of 0.78 (0.72 to 0.84). Among symptomatic women the best summary likelihood ratio for positive results was 5.42 (4.36 to 6.74) for predicting birth within 7-10 days of testing, with corresponding ratio for negative results of 0.25 (0.20 to 0.31).
Conclusion
Cervicovaginal fetal fibronectin test is most accurate in predicting spontaneous preterm birth within 7-10 days of testing among women with symptoms of threatened preterm birth before advanced cervical dilatation.
What is already known on this topicSpontaneous preterm birth is a major cause of neonatal morbidity and mortalityIf spontaneous preterm birth can be predicted, effective therapeutic strategies can be used to improve neonatal outcomesThough the cervicovaginal fetal fibronectin test has been proposed as a predictive test, estimates of its accuracy are variableWhat this study addsThe cervicovaginal fetal fibronectin test is most accurate in predicting spontaneous preterm birth within 7-10 days of testing among women with symptoms of threatened preterm birth before advanced cervical dilatationAfter a positive test result 17 symptomatic women at 31 weeks' gestation would need to be treated with antenatal steroids to prevent one case of respiratory distress syndrome
PMCID: PMC117763  PMID: 12169504
20.  Caesarean section versus vaginal delivery for preterm birth in singletons 
Background
Planned caesarean delivery for women thought be in preterm labour may be protective for baby, but could also be quite traumatic for both mother and baby. The optimal mode of delivery of preterm babies for both cephalic and breech presentation remains, therefore, controversial.
Objectives
To assess the effects of a policy of planned immediate caesarean delivery versus planned vaginal birth for women in preterm labour.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (24 April 2012).
Selection criteria
Randomised trials comparing a policy of planned immediate caesarean delivery versus planned vaginal delivery for preterm birth.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently assessed trials for inclusion. Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias. Data were checked for accuracy.
Main results
We included six studies (involving 122 women) but only four studies (involving only 116 women) contributed data to the analyses.
Infant
There were very little data of relevance to the three main (primary) outcomes considered in this review: There was no significant difference between planned immediate caesarean section and planned vaginal delivery with respect to birth injury to infant (risk ratio (RR) 0.56, 95%, confidence interval (CI) 0.05 to 5.62; one trial, 38 women) or birth asphyxia (RR 1.63, 95% CI 0.84 to 3.14; onetrial, 12 women). The only cases of birth trauma were a laceration of the buttock in a baby who was delivered by caesarean section and mild bruising in another allocated to the group delivered vaginally.
The difference between the two groups with regard to perinatal deaths was not significant (0.29, 95% CI 0.07 to 1.14; three trials, 89 women) and there were no data specifically relating to neonatal admission to special care and/or intensive care unit.
There was also no difference between the caesarean or vaginal delivery groups in terms of markers of possible birth asphyxia (RR 1.63, 95% CI 0.84 to 3.14; one trial, 12 women) or Apgar score less than seven at five minutes (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.43 to 1.60; four trials, 115 women) and no difference in attempts at breastfeeding (RR 1.40, 95% 0.11 to 17.45; one trial, 12 women). There was also no difference in neonatal fitting/seizures (RR 0.22, 95% CI 0.01 to 4.32; three trials, 77 women), hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (RR 4.00, 95% CI 0.20 to 82.01;one trial, 12 women) or respiratory distress syndrome (RR 0.55, 95% CI 0.27 to 1.10; three trials, 103 women). There were no data reported in the trials specifically relating to meconium aspiration. There was also no significant difference between the two groups for abnormal follow-up in childhood (RR 0.65, 95% CI 0.19 to 2.22; one trial, 38 women) or delivery less than seven days after entry (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.73 to 1.24; two trials, 51 women).
Mother
There were no data reported on maternal admissions to intensive care. However, there were seven cases of major maternal postpartum complications in the group allocated to planned immediate caesarean section and none in the group randomised to vaginal delivery (RR 7.21, 95% CI 1.37 to 38.08; four trials, 116 women).
There were no data reported in the trials specifically relating to maternal satisfaction (postnatal). There was no significant difference between the two groups with regard to postpartum haemorrhage. A number of non-prespecified secondary outcomes were also considered in the analyses. There was a significant advantage for women in the vaginal delivery group with respect to maternal puerperal pyrexia (RR 2.98, 95% CI 1.18 to 7.53; three trials, 89 women) and other maternal infection (RR 2.63, 95% CI 1.02 to 6.78; three trials, 103 women), but no significant differences in wound infection (RR 1.16, 95% CI 0.18 to 7.70; three trials, 103 women), maternal stay more than 10 days (RR 1.27, 95% CI 0.35 to 4.65; three trials, 78 women) or the need for blood transfusion (results not estimable).
Authors’ conclusions
There is not enough evidence to evaluate the use of a policy of planned immediate caesarean delivery for preterm babies. Further studies are needed in this area, but recruitment is proving difficult.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000078.pub2
PMCID: PMC4164504  PMID: 22696314
*Delivery, Obstetric; *Obstetric Labor, Premature; Birth Injuries [etiology]; Cesarean Section [adverse effects]; Infant, Newborn; Infant, Premature; Infant, Small for Gestational Age; Perinatal Mortality; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Surgical Procedures, Elective; Female; Humans; Pregnancy
21.  Perineal care 
Clinical Evidence  2008;2008:1401.
Introduction
Over 85% of women having a vaginal birth suffer some perineal trauma. Spontaneous tears requiring suturing are estimated to occur in at least a third of women in the UK and USA, with anal sphincter tears in 0.5% to 7% of women. Perineal trauma can lead to long-term physical and psychological problems.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of intrapartum surgical and non-surgical interventions on rates of perineal trauma? What are the effects of different methods and materials for primary repair of first- and second-degree tears and episiotomies? What are the effects of different methods and materials for primary repair of obstetric anal sphincter injuries (third- and fourth-degree tears)? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to April 2007 (BMJ Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 38 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: active pushing, spontaneous pushing, and sustained breath-holding (Valsalva) method of pushing; continuous support during labour; conventional suturing; different methods and materials for primary repair of obstetric anal sphincter injuries; episiotomies (midline and mediolateral incisions); epidural analgesia; forceps; methods of delivery ("hands-on" method, "hands poised"); water births; non-suturing of muscle and skin (or perineal skin alone); passive descent in the second stage of labour; positions (supine or lithotomy positions, upright position during delivery); restrictive or routine use of episiotomy; sutures (absorbable synthetic sutures, catgut sutures, continuous sutures, interrupted sutures); and vacuum extraction.
Key Points
Over 85% of women having a vaginal birth suffer some perineal trauma. Spontaneous tears requiring suturing are estimated to occur in at least one third of women in the UK and USA, with anal sphincter tears in 0.5% to 7% of women.Risk factors include first vaginal delivery, large or malpositioned baby, older or white mother, abnormal collagen synthesis, poor nutritional state, and forceps delivery.
Perineal trauma can lead to long-term physical and psychological problems. Up to 10% of women continue to have long-term perineal pain; up to 25% will have dyspareunia or urinary problems, and up to 10% will report faecal incontinence.
Restricting routine use of episiotomy reduces the risk of posterior perineal trauma. Using episiotomies only when there are clear maternal or fetal indications increases the likelihood of maintaining an intact perineum, and does not increase the risk of third-degree tears.
We don't know whether pain or wound dehiscence are less likely to occur with midline episiotomy compared with mediolateral incision. Midline incisions may be more likely to result in severe tears, although we can't be sure about this.
Instrumental delivery increases the risk of perineal trauma. The risk of instrumental delivery is increased after epidural analgesia. Vacuum extraction reduces the rate of severe perineal trauma compared with forceps delivery, but increases the risk of cephalhaematoma and retinal haemorrhage in the newborn.
Continuous support during labour reduces the rate of assisted vaginal births, and thus the rate of perineal trauma.
The ‘hands-poised' delivery method is associated with lower rates of episiotomy, but increased rates of short-term pain and manual removal of the placenta. Likewise, an upright position during delivery is associated with lower rates of episiotomy, but no significant difference in overall rates of perineal trauma.
Non-suturing of first- and second-degree tears (perineal skin and muscles) may be associated with reduced wound healing up to 3 months after birth. However, leaving the perineal skin alone unsutured (vagina and perineal muscles sutured) reduces dyspareunia and may reduce pain at up to 3 months.
Absorbable synthetic sutures for repair of first- and second-degree tears and episiotomies are less likely to result in long-term pain compared with catgut sutures. Rapidly absorbed synthetic sutures reduces the need for suture removal. Continuous sutures reduce short-term pain.
Early primary overlap repair forthird- and fourth-degree anal sphincter tears seems to be associated with lower risks for faecal urgency and anal incontinence symptoms .
We dont know whether immersion in water during the first or second stage of labour has any effect on rates of perineal trauma.
PMCID: PMC2907946  PMID: 19445799
22.  Perineal care 
Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:1401.
Introduction
Over 85% of women having a vaginal birth suffer some perineal trauma. Spontaneous tears requiring suturing are estimated to occur in at least a third of women in the UK and US, with anal sphincter tears in 0.5% to 7% of women. Perineal trauma can lead to long-term physical and psychological problems.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of intrapartum surgical and non-surgical interventions on rates of perineal trauma? What are the effects of different methods and materials for primary repair of first- and second-degree tears and episiotomies? What are the effects of different methods and materials for primary repair of obstetric anal sphincter injuries (third- and fourth-degree tears)? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to March 2010 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 38 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: active pushing, spontaneous pushing, and sustained breath-holding (Valsalva) method of pushing; continuous support during labour; conventional suturing; different methods and materials for primary repair of obstetric anal sphincter injuries; episiotomies (midline and mediolateral incisions); epidural analgesia; forceps; methods of delivery ("hands-on" method, "hands poised"); water births; non-suturing of muscle and skin (or perineal skin alone); passive descent in the second stage of labour; positions (supine or lithotomy positions, upright position during delivery); restrictive or routine use of episiotomy; sutures (absorbable synthetic sutures, catgut sutures, continuous sutures, interrupted sutures); and vacuum extraction.
Key Points
Over 85% of women having a vaginal birth suffer some perineal trauma. Spontaneous tears requiring suturing are estimated to occur in at least one third of women in the UK and US, with anal sphincter tears in 0.5% to 7% of women.Risk factors include first vaginal delivery, large or malpositioned baby, older or white mother, abnormal collagen synthesis, poor nutritional state, and forceps delivery.
Perineal trauma can lead to long-term physical and psychological problems. Up to 10% of women continue to have long-term perineal pain; up to 25% will have dyspareunia or urinary problems, and up to 10% will report faecal incontinence.
Restricting routine use of episiotomy reduces the risk of posterior perineal trauma. Using episiotomies only when there are clear maternal or fetal indications increases the likelihood of maintaining an intact perineum, and does not increase the risk of third-degree tears.
We don't know whether pain or wound dehiscence are less likely to occur with midline episiotomy compared with mediolateral incision. Midline incisions may be more likely to result in severe tears, although we can't be sure about this.
Instrumental delivery increases the risk of perineal trauma. The risk of instrumental delivery is increased after epidural analgesia. Vacuum extraction reduces the rate of severe perineal trauma compared with forceps delivery, but increases the risk of cephalhaematoma and retinal haemorrhage in the newborn.
Continuous support during labour reduces the rate of assisted vaginal births, and thus the rate of perineal trauma.
The "hands-poised" delivery method is associated with lower rates of episiotomy, but increased rates of short-term pain and manual removal of the placenta. Likewise, an upright position during delivery is associated with lower rates of episiotomy, but no significant difference in overall rates of perineal trauma.
Non-suturing of first- and second-degree tears (perineal skin and muscles) may be associated with reduced wound healing up to 3 months after birth. However, leaving the perineal skin alone unsutured (vagina and perineal muscles sutured) reduces dyspareunia and may reduce pain at up to 3 months.
Absorbable synthetic sutures for repair of first- and second-degree tears and episiotomies are less likely to result in long-term pain than catgut sutures. Rapidly absorbed synthetic sutures reduce the need for suture removal. Continuous sutures reduce short-term pain.
Early primary overlap repair for third- and fourth-degree anal sphincter tears seems to be associated with lower risks for faecal urgency and anal incontinence symptoms than end-to-end approximation.
We don't know whether immersion in water during the first or second stage of labour has any effect on rates of perineal trauma or whether passive descent is better than active pushing.
It is unclear whether the sustained breath holding (Valsalva) method is more effective at reducing rates of perineal trauma compared with exhalatory or spontaneous pushing.
PMCID: PMC3275301  PMID: 21481287
23.  A randomised clinical trial on cardiotocography plus fetal blood sampling versus cardiotocography plus ST-analysis of the fetal electrocardiogram (STAN®) for intrapartum monitoring 
Background
Cardiotocography (CTG) is worldwide the method for fetal surveillance during labour. However, CTG alone shows many false positive test results and without fetal blood sampling (FBS), it results in an increase in operative deliveries without improvement of fetal outcome. FBS requires additional expertise, is invasive and has often to be repeated during labour. Two clinical trials have shown that a combination of CTG and ST-analysis of the fetal electrocardiogram (ECG) reduces the rates of metabolic acidosis and instrumental delivery. However, in both trials FBS was still performed in the ST-analysis arm, and it is therefore still unknown if the observed results were indeed due to the ST-analysis or to the use of FBS in combination with ST-analysis.
Methods/Design
We aim to evaluate the effectiveness of non-invasive monitoring (CTG + ST-analysis) as compared to normal care (CTG + FBS), in a multicentre randomised clinical trial setting. Secondary aims are: 1) to judge whether ST-analysis of fetal electrocardiogram can significantly decrease frequency of performance of FBS or even replace it; 2) perform a cost analysis to establish the economic impact of the two treatment options.
Women in labour with a gestational age ≥ 36 weeks and an indication for CTG-monitoring can be included in the trial.
Eligible women will be randomised for fetal surveillance with CTG and, if necessary, FBS or CTG combined with ST-analysis of the fetal ECG.
The primary outcome of the study is the incidence of serious metabolic acidosis (defined as pH < 7.05 and Bdecf > 12 mmol/L in the umbilical cord artery). Secondary outcome measures are: instrumental delivery, neonatal outcome (Apgar score, admission to a neonatal ward), incidence of performance of FBS in both arms and cost-effectiveness of both monitoring strategies across hospitals.
The analysis will follow the intention to treat principle. The incidence of metabolic acidosis will be compared across both groups. Assuming a reduction of metabolic acidosis from 3.5% to 2.1 %, using a two-sided test with an alpha of 0.05 and a power of 0.80, in favour of CTG plus ST-analysis, about 5100 women have to be randomised. Furthermore, the cost-effectiveness of CTG and ST-analysis as compared to CTG and FBS will be studied.
Discussion
This study will provide data about the use of intrapartum ST-analysis with a strict protocol for performance of FBS to limit its incidence. We aim to clarify to what extent intrapartum ST-analysis can be used without the performance of FBS and in which cases FBS is still needed.
Trial Registration Number
ISRCTN95732366
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-13
PMCID: PMC1976105  PMID: 17655764
24.  UK study of intrapartum care for low risk primigravidas: a survey of interventions 
STUDY OBJECTIVE: To determine the extent of intrapartum intervention received by primigravidas. DESIGN: Cross sectional survey of NHS hospitals in the UK. SETTING: One hundred and one randomly selected hospital maternity units. PARTICIPANTS: Forty consecutive primigravid women, judged to be at low risk at the start of labour, in each hospital. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Seven groups of interventions or monitoring procedures were identified from the first, second, and third stages of labour: fetal monitoring, vaginal examinations, artificial rupture of membranes, augmentation of labour, pain relief, type of delivery, and episiotomy. Data were collected during 1993. MAIN RESULTS: Ninety eight hospitals took part in the study and data were collected on 3160 low risk primigravidas. Seventy four per cent of these women had continuous cardiotocography. The proportion of women having restrictive or invasive fetal monitoring showed appreciable geographical variation for both the first and second stages of labour. Using the criterion of a vaginal examination every four hours and allowing for the length of each woman's labour, 72% had more vaginal examinations than expected; there was a significant geographical variation in the number of women receiving more than five examinations. Fifty three per cent had artificial rupture of membranes; the procedure was performed over a wide range of cervical dilatations (0 cm-10 cm). Thirty eight per cent of labours were augmented, most commonly by intravenous syntocinon; the procedure showed significant geographical variation. Twenty eight per cent had a spinal block or epidural analgesia for the relief of pain; this intervention varied by geographical region only for the second stage of labour. Over one quarter of the women required instrumental delivery. Forty six per cent had an episiotomy; the frequency of this intervention varied substantially by region. There were no infant deaths. Twelve babies were recorded at birth as having a congenital anomaly. CONCLUSIONS: The rates of several interventions seem high for this low risk group and there was substantial geographical variation in the use of six interventions. Clinical trials are needed to evaluate the optimum criteria for using these interventions from which guidelines should be drawn up by local groups and the Royal College.
 
PMCID: PMC1756743  PMID: 9876360
25.  Hierarchical cluster analysis of labour market regulations and population health: a taxonomy of low- and middle-income countries 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:286.
Background
An important contribution of the social determinants of health perspective has been to inquire about non-medical determinants of population health. Among these, labour market regulations are of vital significance. In this study, we investigate the labour market regulations among low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and propose a labour market taxonomy to further understand population health in a global context.
Methods
Using Gross National Product per capita, we classify 113 countries into either low-income (n = 71) or middle-income (n = 42) strata. Principal component analysis of three standardized indicators of labour market inequality and poverty is used to construct 2 factor scores. Factor score reliability is evaluated with Cronbach's alpha. Using these scores, we conduct a hierarchical cluster analysis to produce a labour market taxonomy, conduct zero-order correlations, and create box plots to test their associations with adult mortality, healthy life expectancy, infant mortality, maternal mortality, neonatal mortality, under-5 mortality, and years of life lost to communicable and non-communicable diseases. Labour market and health data are retrieved from the International Labour Organization's Key Indicators of Labour Markets and World Health Organization's Statistical Information System.
Results
Six labour market clusters emerged: Residual (n = 16), Emerging (n = 16), Informal (n = 10), Post-Communist (n = 18), Less Successful Informal (n = 22), and Insecure (n = 31). Primary findings indicate: (i) labour market poverty and population health is correlated in both LMICs; (ii) association between labour market inequality and health indicators is significant only in low-income countries; (iii) Emerging (e.g., East Asian and Eastern European countries) and Insecure (e.g., sub-Saharan African nations) clusters are the most advantaged and disadvantaged, respectively, with the remaining clusters experiencing levels of population health consistent with their labour market characteristics.
Conclusions
The labour market regulations of LMICs appear to be important social determinant of population health. This study demonstrates the heuristic value of understanding the labour markets of LMICs and their health effects using exploratory taxonomy approaches.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-286
PMCID: PMC3349504  PMID: 22512892

Results 1-25 (817630)