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1.  Induction versus expectant monitoring for intrauterine growth restriction at term: randomised equivalence trial (DIGITAT) 
Objective To compare the effect of induction of labour with a policy of expectant monitoring for intrauterine growth restriction near term.
Design Multicentre randomised equivalence trial (the Disproportionate Intrauterine Growth Intervention Trial At Term (DIGITAT)).
Setting Eight academic and 44 non-academic hospitals in the Netherlands between November 2004 and November 2008.
Participants Pregnant women who had a singleton pregnancy beyond 36+0 weeks’ gestation with suspected intrauterine growth restriction.
Interventions Induction of labour or expectant monitoring.
Main outcome measures The primary outcome was a composite measure of adverse neonatal outcome, defined as death before hospital discharge, five minute Apgar score of less than 7, umbilical artery pH of less than 7.05, or admission to the intensive care unit. Operative delivery (vaginal instrumental delivery or caesarean section) was a secondary outcome. Analysis was by intention to treat, with confidence intervals calculated for the differences in percentages or means.
Results 321 pregnant women were randomly allocated to induction and 329 to expectant monitoring. Induction group infants were delivered 10 days earlier (mean difference −9.9 days, 95% CI −11.3 to −8.6) and weighed 130 g less (mean difference −130 g, 95% CI −188 g to −71 g) than babies in the expectant monitoring group. A total of 17 (5.3%) infants in the induction group experienced the composite adverse neonatal outcome, compared with 20 (6.1%) in the expectant monitoring group (difference −0.8%, 95% CI −4.3% to 3.2%). Caesarean sections were performed on 45 (14.0%) mothers in the induction group and 45 (13.7%) in the expectant monitoring group (difference 0.3%, 95% CI −5.0% to 5.6%).
Conclusions In women with suspected intrauterine growth restriction at term, we found no important differences in adverse outcomes between induction of labour and expectant monitoring. Patients who are keen on non-intervention can safely choose expectant management with intensive maternal and fetal monitoring; however, it is rational to choose induction to prevent possible neonatal morbidity and stillbirth.
Trial registration International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial number ISRCTN10363217.
doi:10.1136/bmj.c7087
PMCID: PMC3005565  PMID: 21177352
2.  Maternal health-related quality of life after induction of labor or expectant monitoring in pregnancy complicated by intrauterine growth retardation beyond 36 weeks 
Quality of Life Research  2011;20(9):1427-1436.
Objective
Pregnancies complicated by intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) beyond 36 weeks of gestation are at increased risk of neonatal morbidity and mortality. Optimal treatment in IUGR at term is highly debated. Results from the multicenter DIGITAT (Disproportionate Intrauterine Growth Intervention Trial At Term) trial show that induction of labor and expectant monitoring result in equal neonatal and maternal outcomes for comparable cesarean section rates. We report the maternal health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) that was measured alongside the trial at several points in time.
Methods
Both randomized and non-randomized women were asked to participate in the HR-QoL study. Women were asked to fill out written validated questionnaires, covering background characteristics, condition-specific issues and the Short Form (SF-36), European Quality of Life (EuroQoL 6D3L), Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS), and Symptom Check List (SCL-90) at baseline, 6 weeks postpartum and 6 months postpartum. We compared the difference scores of all summary measures between the two management strategies by ANOVA. A repeated measures multivariate mixed model was defined to assess the effect of the management strategies on the physical (PCS) and mental (MCS) components of the SF-36. Analysis was by intention to treat.
Results
We analyzed data of 361 randomized and 198 non-randomized patients. There were no clinically relevant differences between the treatments at 6 weeks or 6 months postpartum on any summary measures; e.g., on the SF-36 (PCS: P = .09; MCS: P = .48). The PCS and the MCS were below norm values at inclusion. The PCS improved over time but stayed below norm values at 6 months, while the MCS did not improve.
Conclusion
In pregnancies complicated by IUGR beyond 36 weeks, induction of labor does not affect the long-term maternal quality of life.
doi:10.1007/s11136-011-9891-x
PMCID: PMC3195683  PMID: 21468753
Intrauterine growth retardation; Small for gestational age; Quality of life; Induction of labor; Expectant management
3.  Induction of labour versus expectant monitoring in women with pregnancy induced hypertension or mild preeclampsia at term: the HYPITAT trial 
Background
Hypertensive disorders, i.e. pregnancy induced hypertension and preeclampsia, complicate 10 to15% of all pregnancies at term and are a major cause of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. The only causal treatment is delivery. In case of preterm pregnancies conservative management is advocated if the risks for mother and child remain acceptable. In contrast, there is no consensus on how to manage mild hypertensive disease in pregnancies at term. Induction of labour might prevent maternal and neonatal complications at the expense of increased instrumental vaginal delivery rates and caesarean section rates.
Methods/Design
Women with a pregnancy complicated by pregnancy induced hypertension or mild preeclampsia at a gestational age between 36+0 and 41+0 weeks will be asked to participate in a multi-centre randomised controlled trial. Women will be randomised to either induction of labour or expectant management for spontaneous delivery. The primary outcome of this study is severe maternal morbidity, which can be complicated by maternal mortality in rare cases. Secondary outcome measures are neonatal mortality and morbidity, caesarean and vaginal instrumental delivery rates, maternal quality of life and costs. Analysis will be by intention to treat. In total, 720 pregnant women have to be randomised to show a reduction in severe maternal complications of hypertensive disease from 12 to 6%.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence as to whether or not induction of labour in women with pregnancy induced hypertension or mild preeclampsia (nearly) at term is an effective treatment to prevent severe maternal complications.
Trial Registration
The protocol is registered in the clinical trial register number ISRCTN08132825.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-14
PMCID: PMC1950708  PMID: 17662114
4.  Induction of labour versus expectant management in women with preterm prelabour rupture of membranes between 34 and 37 weeks (the PPROMEXIL-trial) 
Background
Preterm prelabour rupture of the membranes (PPROM) is an important clinical problem and a dilemma for the gynaecologist. On the one hand, awaiting spontaneous labour increases the probability of infectious disease for both mother and child, whereas on the other hand induction of labour leads to preterm birth with an increase in neonatal morbidity (e.g., respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)) and a possible rise in the number of instrumental deliveries.
Methods/Design
We aim to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of immediate delivery after PPROM in near term gestation compared to expectant management. Pregnant women with preterm prelabour rupture of the membranes at a gestational age from 34+0 weeks until 37+0 weeks will be included in a multicentre prospective randomised controlled trial. We will compare early delivery with expectant monitoring.
The primary outcome of this study is neonatal sepsis. Secondary outcome measures are maternal morbidity (chorioamnionitis, puerperal sepsis) and neonatal disease, instrumental delivery rate, maternal quality of life, maternal preferences and costs. We anticipate that a reduction of neonatal infection from 7.5% to 2.5% after induction will outweigh an increase in RDS and additional costs due to admission of the child due to prematurity. Under these assumptions, we aim to randomly allocate 520 women to two groups of 260 women each. Analysis will be by intention to treat. Additionally a cost-effectiveness analysis will be performed to evaluate if the cost related to early delivery will outweigh those of expectant management. Long term outcomes will be evaluated using modelling.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence as to whether induction of labour after preterm prelabour rupture of membranes is an effective and cost-effective strategy to reduce the risk of neonatal sepsis.
Controlled clinical trial register
ISRCTN29313500
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-11
PMCID: PMC1934382  PMID: 17617892
5.  Induction of labour versus expectant monitoring for gestational hypertension or mild pre-eclampsia between 34 and 37 weeks' gestation (HYPITAT-II): a multicentre, open-label randomised controlled trial 
Background
Gestational hypertension (GH) and pre-eclampsia (PE) can result in severe complications such as eclampsia, placental abruption, syndrome of Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelets (HELLP) and ultimately even neonatal or maternal death. We recently showed that in women with GH or mild PE at term induction of labour reduces both high risk situations for mothers as well as the caesarean section rate. In view of this knowledge, one can raise the question whether women with severe hypertension, pre-eclampsia or deterioration chronic hypertension between 34 and 37 weeks of gestation should be delivered or monitored expectantly. Induction of labour might prevent maternal complications. However, induction of labour in late pre-term pregnancy might increase neonatal morbidity and mortality compared with delivery at term.
Methods/Design
Pregnant women with severe gestational hypertension, mild pre-eclampsia or deteriorating chronic hypertension at a gestational age between 34+0 and 36+6 weeks will be asked to participate in a multi-centre randomised controlled trial. Women will be randomised to either induction of labour or expectant monitoring. In the expectant monitoring arm, women will be induced only when the maternal or fetal condition detoriates or at 37+0 weeks of gestation. The primary outcome measure is a composite endpoint of maternal mortality, severe maternal complications (eclampsia, HELLP syndrome, pulmonary oedema and thromboembolic disease) and progression to severe pre-eclampsia. Secondary outcomes measures are respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), neonatal morbidity and mortality, caesarean section and vaginal instrumental delivery rates, maternal quality of life and costs. Analysis will be intention to treat. The power calculation is based on an expectant reduction of the maternal composite endpoint from 5% to 1% for an expected increase in neonatal RDS from 1% at 37 weeks to 10% at 34 weeks. This implies that 680 women have to be randomised.
Discussion
This trial will provide insight as to whether in women with hypertensive disorders late pre-term, induction of labour is an effective treatment to prevent severe maternal complications without compromising the neonatal morbidity.
Trial Registration
NTR1792 Clinical trial registration: http://www.trialregister.nl
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-50
PMCID: PMC3161905  PMID: 21736705
6.  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
7.  Community Mobilization in Mumbai Slums to Improve Perinatal Care and Outcomes: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001257.
David Osrin and colleagues report findings from a cluster-randomized trial conducted in Mumbai slums; the trial aimed to evaluate whether facilitator-supported women's groups could improve perinatal outcomes.
Introduction
Improving maternal and newborn health in low-income settings requires both health service and community action. Previous community initiatives have been predominantly rural, but India is urbanizing. While working to improve health service quality, we tested an intervention in which urban slum-dweller women's groups worked to improve local perinatal health.
Methods and Findings
A cluster randomized controlled trial in 24 intervention and 24 control settlements covered a population of 283,000. In each intervention cluster, a facilitator supported women's groups through an action learning cycle in which they discussed perinatal experiences, improved their knowledge, and took local action. We monitored births, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths, and interviewed mothers at 6 weeks postpartum. The primary outcomes described perinatal care, maternal morbidity, and extended perinatal mortality. The analysis included 18,197 births over 3 years from 2006 to 2009. We found no differences between trial arms in uptake of antenatal care, reported work, rest, and diet in later pregnancy, institutional delivery, early and exclusive breastfeeding, or care-seeking. The stillbirth rate was non-significantly lower in the intervention arm (odds ratio 0.86, 95% CI 0.60–1.22), and the neonatal mortality rate higher (1.48, 1.06–2.08). The extended perinatal mortality rate did not differ between arms (1.19, 0.90–1.57). We have no evidence that these differences could be explained by the intervention.
Conclusions
Facilitating urban community groups was feasible, and there was evidence of behaviour change, but we did not see population-level effects on health care or mortality. In cities with multiple sources of health care, but inequitable access to services, community mobilization should be integrated with attempts to deliver services for the poorest and most vulnerable, and with initiatives to improve quality of care in both public and private sectors.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN96256793
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Substantial progress is being made to reduce global child mortality (deaths of children before the age of 5 years) and maternal mortality (deaths among women because of complications of pregnancy and childbirth)—two of the Millennium Development Goals agreed by world leaders in 2000 to end extreme poverty. Even so, worldwide, in 2010, 7.6 million children died before their fifth birthday and there were nearly 360,000 maternal deaths. Almost all child and maternal deaths occur in developing countries—a fifth of under-five deaths and more than a quarter of neonatal deaths (deaths during the first month of life, which account for two-fifths of all child deaths) occur in India alone. Moreover, most child and maternal deaths are caused by avoidable conditions. Specifically, the major causes of neonatal death—complications of preterm delivery, breathing problems during or after delivery, and infections of the blood (sepsis) and lungs (pneumonia)—and of maternal deaths—hemorrhage (abnormal bleeding), sepsis, unsafe abortion, obstructed labor, and hypertensive diseases of pregnancy—could all be largely prevented by improved access to reproductive health services and skilled health care workers.
Why Was This Study Done?
Experts believe that improvements to maternal and newborn health in low-income settings require both health service strengthening and community action. That is, the demand for better services, driven by improved knowledge about maternal and newborn health (perinatal issues), has to be increased in parallel with the supply of those services. To date, community mobilization around perinatal issues has largely been undertaken in rural settings but populations in developing countries are becoming increasingly urban. In India, for example, 30% of the population now lives in cities. In this cluster randomized controlled trial (a study in which groups of people are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in the differently treated “clusters” are compared), City Initiative for Newborn Health (CINH) researchers investigate the effect of an intervention designed to help women's groups in the slums of Mumbai work towards improving local perinatal health. The CINH aims to improve maternal and newborn health in slum communities by improving public health care provision and by working with community members to improve maternal and newborn care practices and care-seeking behaviors.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 48 Mumbai slum communities of at least 1,000 households into their trial. In each of the 24 intervention clusters, a facilitator supported local women's groups through a 36-meeting learning cycle during which group members discussed their perinatal experiences, improved their knowledge, and took action. To measure the effect of the intervention, the researchers monitored births, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths in all the clusters and interviewed mothers 6 weeks after delivery. During the 3-year trial, there were 18,197 births in the participating settlements. The women in the intervention clusters were enthusiastic about acquiring new knowledge and made substantial efforts to reach out to other women but were less successful in undertaking collective action such as negotiations with civic authorities for more amenities. There were no differences between the intervention and control communities in the uptake of antenatal care, reported work, rest, and diet in late pregnancy, institutional delivery, or in breast feeding and care-seeking behavior. Finally, the combined rate of stillbirths and neonatal deaths (the extended perinatal mortality rate) was the same in both arms of the trial, as was maternal mortality.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that it is possible to facilitate the discussion of perinatal health care by urban women's groups in the challenging conditions that exist in the slums of Mumbai. However, they fail to show any measureable effect of community mobilization through the facilitation of women's groups on perinatal health at the population level. The researchers acknowledge that more intensive community activities that target the poorest, most vulnerable slum dwellers might produce measurable effects on perinatal mortality, and they conclude that, in cities with multiple sources of health care and inequitable access to services, it remains important to integrate community mobilization with attempts to deliver services to the poorest and most vulnerable, and with initiatives to improve the quality of health care in both the public and private sector.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001257.
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on the reduction of child mortality (Millennium Development Goal 4); its Childinfo website provides information about all the Millennium Development Goals and detailed statistics about on child survival and health, newborn care, and maternal health (some information in several languages)
The World Health Organization also has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and Millennium Development Goal 5, the reduction of maternal mortality, provides information on newborn infants, and provides estimates of child mortality rates (some information in several languages)
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
Information on the City Initiative for Newborn Health and its partners and a detailed description of its trial of community mobilization in Mumbai slums to improve care during pregnancy, delivery, postnatally and for the newborn are available
Further information about the Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA) is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001257
PMCID: PMC3389036  PMID: 22802737
8.  Induction of labour with a Foley catheter or oral misoprostol at term: the PROBAAT-II study, a multicentre randomised controlled trial 
Background
Induction of labour is a common obstetric procedure. At present, different methods are used for induction of labour in women with an unfavourable cervix. Recently, we showed that in term women with an unfavorable cervix the use of a Foley catheter in comparison with vaginal Prostaglandin E2 gel, results in a comparable vaginal delivery rate. A meta-analysis on the subject indicated lower rates of hyperstimulation, and probably as a sequel fewer cases of postpartum haemorrhage. Misoprostol (PgE1) is another type of prostaglandin frequently used for labour induction, recommended by the international federation of gynaecology and obstetrics (FIGO). Misoprostol can be administered by vaginal, rectal and oral route. There is evidence that oral administration results in less asphyxia and hyperstimulation than vaginal administration. At present, valid comparisons between oral misoprostol and Foley catheter are lacking. Therefore, we propose a randomised controlled trial comparing Foley catheter to oral misoprostol in order to assess safety and cost-effectiveness.
Methods/Design
We plan a multicentre, randomised, controlled, open-label clinical trial among term pregnant women with a vital singleton in cephalic presentation, unfavorable cervix, intact membranes and an indication for induction of labour. After informed consent, women will be randomly allocated by a webbased randomisation system to transcervical Foley catheter or oral misoprostol (50 mcg every 4 hours). The primary outcome will be a composite of complications of uterine hyperstimulation, i.e. post partum haemorrhage and asphyxia. Secondary outcomes are mode of delivery, maternal and neonatal morbidity, costs and women’s preference. Serious adverse events such as severe maternal or neonatal morbitity or mortality will be monitored and reported to an independent data safety monitory board. With a sample size of 1860 women we will be able to demonstrate a 5% non-inferiority of the Foley catheter as compared to misoprostol for the composite outcome.
Discussion
Worldwide, various methods are being used for labour induction. Results of the proposed trial will contribute to the answer which method of induction of labour is most safe, cost-effective, and patient friendly and will help to construct evidence based guidelines.
Trial registration
The Netherlands Trial Register NTR3466
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-67
PMCID: PMC3610263  PMID: 23506128
Induction of labour; Oral misoprostol; Foley catheter; Asphyxia; Post partum haemorrhage; Hyperstimulation; Bishop score; Unfavourable cervix
9.  Induction of labour for improving birth outcomes for women at or beyond term 
Background
As a pregnancy continues beyond term the risks of babies dying inside the womb or in the immediate newborn period increase. Whether a policy of labour induction at a predetermined gestational age can reduce this increased risk is the subject of this review.
Objectives
To evaluate the benefits and harms of a policy of labour induction at term or post-term compared with awaiting spontaneous labour or later induction of labour.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (31 March 2012).
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials conducted in women at or beyond term. The eligible trials were those comparing a policy of labour induction with a policy of awaiting spontaneous onset of labour. Cluster-randomised trials and cross-over trials are not included. Quasi-random allocation schemes such as alternation, case record numbers or open random-number lists were not eligible.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently assessed trials for inclusion. Two review authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. Data were checked for accuracy. Outcomes are analysed in two main categories: gestational age and cervix status.
Main results
We included 22 trials reporting on 9383 women. The trials were generally at moderate risk of bias.
Compared with a policy of expectant management, a policy of labour induction was associated with fewer (all-cause) perinatal deaths: risk ratio (RR) 0.31, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.12 to 0.88; 17 trials, 7407 women. There was one perinatal death in the labour induction policy group compared with 13 perinatal deaths in the expectant management group. The number needed to treat to benefit (NNTB) with induction of labour in order to prevent one perinatal death was 410 (95% CI 322 to 1492).
For the primary outcome of perinatal death and most other outcomes, no differences between timing of induction subgroups were seen; the majority of trials adopted a policy of induction at 41 completed weeks (287 days) or more.
Fewer babies in the labour induction group had meconium aspiration syndrome (RR 0.50, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.73; eight trials, 2371 infants) compared with a policy of expectant management. There was no statistically significant difference between the rates of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission for induction compared with expectant management (RR 0.90, 95% CI 0.78 to 1.04; 10 trials, 6161 infants). For women in the policy of induction arms of trials, there were significantly fewer caesarean sections compared with expectant management in 21 trials of 8749 women (RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.81 to 0.97).
Authors’ conclusions
A policy of labour induction compared with expectant management is associated with fewer perinatal deaths and fewer caesarean sections. Some infant morbidities such as meconium aspiration syndrome were also reduced with a policy of post-term labour induction although no significant differences in the rate of NICU admission were seen.
However, the absolute risk of perinatal death is small. Women should be appropriately counselled in order to make an informed choice between scheduled induction for a post-term pregnancy or monitoring without induction (or delayed induction).
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004945.pub3
PMCID: PMC4065650  PMID: 22696345
* Pregnancy, Prolonged; *Watchful Waiting; Cesarean Section [utilization]; Infant Mortality; Infant, Newborn; Labor, Induced [*adverse effects]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Risk; Female; Humans; Pregnancy
10.  Effects of induction of labour versus expectant management in women with impending post-term pregnancies: the 41 week – 42 week dilemma 
Background
Post-term pregnancy, a pregnancy exceeding 294 days or 42 completed weeks, is associated with increased perinatal morbidity and mortality and is considered a high-risk condition which requires specialist surveillance and induction of labour. However, there is uncertainty on the policy concerning the timing of induction for post-term pregnancy or impending post-term pregnancy, leading to practice variation between caregivers. Previous studies on induction at or beyond 41 weeks versus expectant management showed different results on perinatal outcome though conclusions in meta-analyses show a preference for induction at 41 weeks. However, interpretation of the results is hampered by the limited sample size of most trials and the heterogeneity in design. Most control groups had a policy of awaiting spontaneous onset of labour that went far beyond 42 weeks, which does not reflect usual care in The Netherlands where induction of labour at 42 weeks is the regular policy. Thus leaving the question unanswered if induction at 41 weeks results in better perinatal outcomes than expectant management until 42 weeks.
Methods/design
In this study we compare a policy of labour induction at 41 + 0/+1 weeks with a policy of expectant management until 42 weeks in obstetrical low risk women without contra-indications for expectant management until 42 weeks and a singleton pregnancy in cephalic position. We will perform a multicenter randomised controlled clinical trial. Our primary outcome will be a composite outcome of perinatal mortality and neonatal morbidity. Secondary outcomes will be maternal outcomes as mode of delivery (operative vaginal delivery and Caesarean section), need for analgesia and postpartum haemorrhage (≥1000 ml). Maternal preferences, satisfaction, wellbeing, pain and anxiety will be assessed alongside the trial.
Discussion
This study will provide evidence for the management of pregnant women reaching a gestational age of 41 weeks.
Trial registration
Dutch Trial Register (Nederlands Trial Register): NTR3431. Registered: 14 May 2012.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-350
PMCID: PMC4288619  PMID: 25338555
Pregnancy prolonged; Pregnancy post-term; Labour induced; Expectant management; Perinatal outcome, neonatal outcome; Maternal outcome; Maternal preferences
11.  Effect of balanced protein energy supplementation during pregnancy on birth outcomes 
BMC Public Health  2011;11(Suppl 3):S17.
Background
The nutritional status of the mother prior to and during pregnancy plays a vital role in fetal growth and development, and maternal undernourishment may lead to adverse perinatal outcomes including intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Several macronutrient interventions had been proposed for adequate protein and energy supplementation during pregnancy. The objective of this paper was to review the effect of balanced protein energy supplementation during pregnancy on birth outcomes. This paper is a part of a series of reviews undertaken for getting estimates of effectiveness of an intervention for input to Lives Saved Tool (LiST) model.
Methods
A literature search was conducted on PubMed, Cochrane Library and WHO regional data bases to identify randomized trials (RCTs) and quasi RCTs that evaluated the impact of balanced protein energy supplementation in pregnancy. Balanced protein energy supplementation was defined as nutritional supplementation during pregnancy in which proteins provided less than 25% of the total energy content. Those studies were excluded in which the main intervention was dietary advice to pregnant women for increase in protein energy intake, high protein supplementation (i.e. supplementation in which protein provides at least 25% of total energy content), isocaloric protein supplementation (where protein replaces an equal quantity of non-protein energy content), or low energy diet to pregnant women who are either overweight or who exhibit high weight gain earlier in gestation. The primary outcomes were incidence of small for gestational age (SGA) birth, mean birth weight and neonatal mortality. Quality of evidence was evaluated according to the Child Health Epidemiology Reference group (CHERG) adaptation of Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) criteria.
Results
The final number of studies included in our review was eleven comprising of both RCTs and quasi-RCTs. Our meta-analysis indicates that providing pregnant females with balanced protein energy supplementation resulted in a significant reduction of 31 % in the risk of giving birth to small for gestational age infants (Relative risk (RR) =0.69, 95% Confidence interval (CI) 0.56 to 0.85). This estimate had been recommended for LiST as a proxy for reduction in IUGR. Pooled results for mean birth weight showed that balanced protein supplemented group gained more weight compared to control [Mean difference 59.89 g, 95 % CI 33.09-86.68]. This effect was more pronounced in malnourished women compared to adequately nourished women. There was no statistically significant effect of balanced protein energy supplementation on neonatal mortality (RR= 0.63, 95% CI 0.37 to 1.06).
Conclusion
Providing pregnant females with balanced protein energy supplementation leads to reduction in risk of small for gestational age infants, especially among undernourished pregnant women. Given these findings, we can recommend balanced protein energy supplementation as an intervention among undernourished women for inclusion in the LiST model with a point estimate of 31% [95% CI 15% to 44%] reduction in IUGR.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-S3-S17
PMCID: PMC3231890  PMID: 21501434
12.  Active versus expectant management for women in the third stage of labour 
Background
Active management of the third stage of labour involves giving a prophylactic uterotonic, early cord clamping and controlled cord traction to deliver the placenta. With expectant management, signs of placental separation are awaited and the placenta is delivered spontaneously. Active management was introduced to try to reduce haemorrhage, a major contributor to maternal mortality in low-income countries.
Objectives
To compare the effectiveness of active versus expectant management of the third stage of labour.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group Trials Register (15 February 2011).
Selection criteria
Randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials comparing active versus expectant management of the third stage of labour.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently assessed the studies for inclusion, assessed risk of bias and carried out data extraction.
Main results
We included seven studies (involving 8247 women), all undertaken in hospitals, six in high-income countries and one in a low-income country. Four studies compared active versus expectant management, and three compared active versus a mixture of managements. We used random-effects in the analyses because of clinical heterogeneity. There was an absence of high quality evidence for our primary outcomes. The evidence suggested that for women at mixed levels of risk of bleeding, active management showed a reduction in the average risk of maternal primary haemorrhage at time of birth (more than 1000 mL) (average risk ratio (RR) 0.34, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.14 to 0.87, three studies, 4636 women) and of maternal haemoglobin (Hb) less than 9 g/dL following birth (average RR 0.50, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.83, two studies, 1572 women). We also found no difference in the incidence in admission of infants to neonatal units (average RR 0.81, 95% CI 0.60 to 1.11, two studies, 3207 women) nor in the incidence of infant jaundice requiring treatment (0.96, 95% CI 0.55 to 1.68, two studies, 3142 women). There were no data on our other primary outcomes of very severe postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) at the time of birth (more than 2500 mL), maternal mortality, or neonatal polycythaemia needing treatment.
Active management also showed a significant decrease in primary blood loss greater than 500 mL, and mean maternal blood loss at birth, maternal blood transfusion and therapeutic uterotonics during the third stage or within the first 24 hours, or both and significant increases in maternal diastolic blood pressure, vomiting after birth, after-pains, use of analgesia from birth up to discharge from the labour ward and more women returning to hospital with bleeding (outcome not pre-specified). There was also a decrease in the baby’s birthweight with active management, reflecting the lower blood volume from interference with placental transfusion.
In the subgroup of women at low risk of excessive bleeding, there were similar findings, except there was no significant difference identified between groups for severe haemorrhage or maternal Hb less than 9 g/dL (at 24 to 72 hours).
Hypertension and interference with placental transfusion might be avoided by using modifications to the active management package, e.g. omitting ergot and deferring cord clamping, but we have no direct evidence of this here.
Authors’ conclusions
Although there is a lack of high quality evidence, active management of the third stage reduced the risk of haemorrhage greater than 1000 mL at the time of birth in a population of women at mixed risk of excessive bleeding, but adverse effects were identified. Women should be given information on the benefits and harms of both methods to support informed choice. Given the concerns about early cord clamping and the potential adverse effects of some uterotonics, it is critical now to look at the individual components of third-stage management. Data are also required from low-income countries.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007412.pub3
PMCID: PMC4026059  PMID: 22071837
13.  Fetal growth restriction and the risk of perinatal mortality–case studies from the multicentre PORTO study 
Background
Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is the single largest contributing factor to perinatal mortality in non-anomalous fetuses. Advances in antenatal and neonatal critical care have resulted in a reduction in neonatal deaths over the past decades, while stillbirth rates have remained unchanged. Antenatal detection rates of fetal growth failure are low, and these pregnancies carry a high risk of perinatal death.
Methods
The Prospective Observational Trial to Optimize Paediatric Health in IUGR (PORTO) Study recruited 1,200 ultrasound-dated singleton IUGR pregnancies, defined as EFW <10th centile, between 24+0 and 36+6 weeks gestation. All recruited fetuses underwent serial sonographic assessment of fetal weight and multi-vessel Doppler studies until birth. Perinatal outcomes were recorded for all pregnancies. Case records of the perinatal deaths from this prospectively recruited IUGR cohort were reviewed, their pregnancy details and outcome were analysed descriptively and compared to the entire cohort.
Results
Of 1,116 non-anomalous singleton infants with EFW <10th centile, 6 resulted in perinatal deaths including 3 stillbirths and 3 early neonatal deaths. Perinatal deaths occurred between 24+6 and 35+0 weeks gestation corresponding to birthweights ranging from 460 to 2260 grams. Perinatal deaths occurred more commonly in pregnancies with severe growth restriction (EFW <3rd centile) and associated abnormal Doppler findings resulting in earlier gestational ages at delivery and lower birthweights. All of the described pregnancies were complicated by either significant maternal comorbidities, e.g. hypertension, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or diabetes, or poor obstetric histories, e.g. prior perinatal death, mid-trimester or recurrent pregnancy loss. Five of the 6 mortalities occurred in women of non-Irish ethnic backgrounds. All perinatal deaths showed abnormalities on placental histopathological evaluation.
Conclusions
The PNMR in this cohort of prenatally identified IUGR cases was 5.4/1,000 and compares favourably to the overall national rate of 4.1/1,000 births, which can be attributed to increased surveillance and timely delivery. Despite antenatal recognition of IUGR and associated maternal risk factors, not all perinatal deaths can be prevented.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-63
PMCID: PMC3923738  PMID: 24517273
Perinatal mortality; Antepartum stillbirth; Neonatal death; Intrauterine growth restriction; PORTO Study
14.  Percutaneous vesicoamniotic shunting versus conservative management for fetal lower urinary tract obstruction (PLUTO): a randomised trial 
Lancet  2013;382(9903):1496-1506.
Summary
Background
Fetal lower urinary tract obstruction (LUTO) is associated with high perinatal and long-term childhood mortality and morbidity. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of vesicoamniotic shunting for treatment of LUTO.
Methods
In a randomised trial in the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands, women whose pregnancies with a male fetus were complicated by isolated LUTO were randomly assigned by a central telephone and web-based randomisation service to receive either the intervention (placement of vesicoamniotic shunt) or conservative management. Allocation could not be masked from clinicians or participants because of the invasive nature of the intervention. Diagnosis was by prenatal ultrasound. The primary outcome was survival of the baby to 28 days postnatally. All primary analyses were done on an intention-to-treat basis, but these results were compared with those of an as-treated analysis to investigate the effect of a fairly large proportion of crossovers. We used Bayesian methods to estimate the posterior probability distribution of the effectiveness of vesicoamniotic shunting at 28 days. The study is registered with the ISRCTN Register, number ISRCTN53328556.
Findings
31 women with singleton pregnancies complicated by LUTO were included in the trial and main analysis, with 16 allocated to the vesicoamniotic shunt group and 15 to the conservative management group. The study closed early because of poor recruitment. There were 12 livebirths in each group. In the vesicoamniotic shunt group one intrauterine death occurred and three pregnancies were terminated. In the conservative management group one intrauterine death occurred and two pregnancies were terminated. Of the 16 pregnancies randomly assigned to vesicoamniotic shunting, eight neonates survived to 28 days, compared with four from the 15 pregnancies assigned to conservative management (intention-to-treat relative risk [RR] 1·88, 95% CI 0·71–4·96; p=0·27). Analysis based on treatment received showed a larger effect (3·20, 1·06–9·62; p=0·03). All 12 deaths were caused by pulmonary hypoplasia in the early neonatal period. Sensitivity analysis in which non-treatment-related terminations of pregnancy were excluded made some slight changes to point estimates only. Bayesian analysis in which the trial data were combined with elicited priors from experts suggested an 86% probability that vesicoamniotic shunting increased survival at 28 days and a 25% probability that it had a large, clinically important effect (defined as a relative increase of 55% or more in the proportion of neonates who survived). There was substantial short-term and long-term morbidity in both groups, including poor renal function—only two babies (both in the shunt group) survived to 2 years with normal renal function. Seven complications occurred in six fetuses from the shunt group, including spontaneous ruptured membranes, shunt blockage, and dislodgement. These complications resulted in four pregnancy losses.
Interpretation
Survival seemed to be higher in the fetuses receiving vesicoamniotic shunting, but the size and direction of the effect remained uncertain, such that benefit could not be conclusively proven. Our results suggest that the chance of newborn babies surviving with normal renal function is very low irrespective of whether or not vesicoamniotic shunting is done.
Funding
UK National Institute of Health Research, Wellbeing of Women, Hannah Eliza Guy Charity (Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity).
doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60992-7
PMCID: PMC3898962  PMID: 23953766
15.  Comparison of Fetal and Neonatal Growth Curves in Detecting Growth Restriction 
Obstetrics and gynecology  2008;112(6):1227-1234.
Objective
To evaluate the outcome of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) infants with abnormal pulsatility index of the umbilical artery according to the neonatal birth weight/gestational age standards and the intrauterine growth charts.
Methods
We analyzed 53 pregnancies with severe IUGR classified as Group 2 (22 IUGR: abnormal pulsatility index and normal fetal heart rate) and Group 3 (31 IUGR: abnormal pulsatility index and fetal heart rate). Neonatal birth weight/gestational age distribution, body size measurements, maternal characteristics and obstetric outcome, and neonatal major and minor morbidity and mortality were compared with those obtained in 79 singleton pregnancies with normal fetal growth and pulsatility index, matched for gestational age [appropriate for gestational age (AGA) group]. Differences were analyzed with the χ2 test and the Student’s t test. Differences between means corrected for gestational age in the different groups were assessed by analysis of covariance test. A P value <0.05 was considered significant.
Results
At delivery, utilizing the neonatal standards, 25/53 (47%) IUGR showed a birthweight above the 10th percentile (IUGRAGA) whereas in 28, birthweight was below the 10th percentile (IUGRSGA). All body size measurements were significantly higher in AGA than in IUGRAGA and IUGRSGA. Forty-nine out of 79 (62%) AGA and 49/53 (92%) IUGR were admitted in the neonatal intensive care unit (p<0.001). One out of 79 (1%) AGA and 6/53 (11%) IUGR newborns died within 28 days (p<0.02). Major and minor morbidity was not different.
Conclusion
This study shows that neonatal outcome is similar in IUGR of the same clinical severity, whether or not they could be defined AGA or SGA according to the neonatal standards. Neonatal curves are misleading in detecting low birthweight infants and should be utilized only when obstetrical data are unavailable.
doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e31818bdc7e
PMCID: PMC2752730  PMID: 19037030
16.  Effect of partogram use on outcomes for women in spontaneous labour at term 
Background
The partogram (sometimes known as partograph) is usually a pre-printed paper form on which labour observations are recorded. The aim of the partogram is to provide a pictorial overview of labour, to alert midwives and obstetricians to deviations in maternal or fetal wellbeing and labour progress. Charts often contain pre-printed alert and action lines. An alert line represents the slowest 10% of primigravid women’s labour progress. An action line is placed a number of hours after the alert line (usually two or four hours) to prompt effective management of slow progress of labour.
Objectives
To determine the effect of use of partogram on perinatal and maternal morbidity and mortality.
To determine the effect of partogram design on perinatal and maternal morbidity and mortality.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (31 May 2012).
Selection criteria
Randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials involving a comparison of partogram with no partogram, or comparison between different partogram designs.
Data collection and analysis
Three review authors independently assessed eligibility, quality and extracted data. When one review author was also the trial author, the two remaining authors assessed the studies independently.
Main results
We have included six studies involving 7706 women in this review; two studies assessed partogram versus no partogram and the remainder assessed different partogram designs. There was no evidence of any difference between partogram and no partogram in caesarean section (risk ratio (RR) 0.64, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.24 to 1.70); instrumental vaginal delivery (RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.85 to 1.17) or Apgar score less than seven at five minutes (RR 0.77, 95% CI 0.29 to 2.06) between the groups. When compared to a four-hour action line, women in the two-hour action line group were more likely to require oxytocin augmentation (RR 1.14, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.22). When the three- and four-hour action line groups were compared, caesarean section rate was lowest in the four-hour action line group and this difference was statistically significant (RR 1.70, 95% CI 1.07 to 2.70, n = 613, one trial). When a partogram with a latent phase (composite) and one without (modified) were compared, the caesarean section rate was lower in the partograph without a latent phase (RR 2.45, 95% CI 1.72 to 3.50, n = 743, one trial).
Authors’ conclusions
On the basis of the findings of this review, we cannot recommend routine use of the partogram as part of standard labour management and care. Given the fact that the partogram is currently in widespread use and generally accepted, it appears reasonable, until stronger evidence is available, that partogram use should be locally determined. Further trial evidence is required to establish the efficacy of partogram use.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005461.pub3
PMCID: PMC4161496  PMID: 22895950
*Pregnancy Outcome; Cesarean Section [utilization]; Delivery, Obstetric [methods]; Labor, Obstetric [* physiology]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Term Birth [* physiology]; Uterine Inertia [diagnosis]; Uterine Monitoring [* methods]; Female; Humans; Pregnancy
17.  Regimens of fetal surveillance for impaired fetal growth 
Background
Policies and protocols for fetal surveillance in the pregnancy where impaired fetal growth is suspected vary widely, with numerous combinations of different surveillance methods.
Objectives
To assess the effects of antenatal fetal surveillance regimens on important perinatal and maternal outcomes.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (April 2008).
Selection criteria
Randomised and quasi-randomised trials comparing the effects of described antenatal fetal surveillance regimens.
Data collection and analysis
R Grivell and L Wong independently assessed trial eligibility and quality and extracted data.
Main results
One trial of 167 women and their babies was included. This trial was a pilot study recruiting alongside another study, therefore a separate sample size was not calculated. The trial compared a twice-weekly surveillance regimen (biophysical profile, nonstress tests, umbilical artery and middle cerebral artery Doppler and uterine artery Doppler) with the same regimen applied fortnightly (both groups had growth assessed fortnightly). There were insufficient data to assess this review’s primary infant outcome of composite perinatal mortality and serious morbidity (although there were no perinatal deaths) and no difference was seen in the primary maternal outcome of emergency caesarean section for fetal distress. In keeping with the more frequent monitoring, mean gestational age at birth was four days less for the twice-weekly surveillance group compared with the fortnightly surveillance group. Women in the twice-weekly surveillance group were 25% more likely to have induction of labour than those in the fortnightly surveillance group. The risk ratio was 1.25 (95% confidence interval 1.04 to 1.50).
Authors’ conclusions
There is limited evidence from randomised controlled trials to inform best practice for fetal surveillance. regimens when caring for women with pregnancies affected by impaired fetal growth. More studies are needed to evaluate the effects of currently used fetal surveillance regimens in impaired fetal growth
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007113.pub2
PMCID: PMC4170895  PMID: 19160321
Fetal Development; Fetal Growth Retardation [*diagnosis]; Fetal Monitoring [*methods]; Middle Cerebral Artery [ultrasonography]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Ultrasonography, Prenatal; Umbilical Arteries [ultrasonography]; Female; Humans; Pregnancy
18.  IMOP: randomised placebo controlled trial of outpatient cervical ripening with isosorbide mononitrate (IMN) prior to induction of labour – clinical trial with analyses of efficacy, cost effectiveness and acceptability 
Background
There is increasing interest in carrying out pre-induction cervical ripening on an outpatient basis. However, there are concerns about the use of prostaglandins, the agents commonly used in hospital settings for this indication, because prostaglandins induce uterine contractions that may lead to fetal hypoxia. Indeed, in a recent study we demonstrated abnormalities in 9% of fetal heart rate tracings performed following prostaglandin induced cervical ripening at term. In contrast, we confirmed in the same study that isosorbide mononitrate (IMN) (administered on an inpatient basis) was both effective in inducing cervical ripening at term, and was associated with no associated fetal heart rate abnormalities.
Methods/design
The aim of this study is to determine whether IMN self administered by women on an outpatient basis improves the process of induction of labour. Specifically, we hypothesise that the use of outpatient IMN will result in a shorter inpatient stay before delivery, decreased costs to the health service and greater maternal satisfaction with ripening and induction of labour, compared with placebo treatment.
In the study described here (the "IMOP" study), women scheduled for induction of labour at term, and who require pre-induction cervical ripening will be randomised to self-administer at home either IMN 40 mg, or a placebo, each vaginally, at 48 hours, 32 hours and 16 hours before scheduled hospital admission.
After admission to hospital, treatment will revert to the usual induction of labour protocol. We will compare the primary outcomes of the elapsed time interval from hospital admission to vaginal delivery, the costs to the health service of induction of labour, and women's experience of induction of labour in the two groups.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence on the efficacy of outpatient IMN for pre-induction cervical ripening at term. We will study a formulation of IMN which is cheap and widely available. If the treatment is effective, acceptable to women, and cost effective, it could be implemented into obstetric practice worldwide.
Trial registration
The trial has been registered on the International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Register (ISRCTN) and given the registration number ISRTN39772441.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-6-25
PMCID: PMC1569865  PMID: 16869966
19.  The Effect of Intermittent Antenatal Iron Supplementation on Maternal and Infant Outcomes in Rural Viet Nam: A Cluster Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001470.
Beverley-Anne Biggs and colleagues conduct a community-based cluster randomized trial in rural Viet Nam to compare the effect of antenatal iron-folic acid supplementation taken daily or twice weekly on maternal and infant outcomes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Anemia affects over 500 million women, and in pregnancy is associated with impaired maternal and infant outcomes. Intermittent antenatal iron supplementation is an attractive alternative to daily dosing; however, the impact of this strategy on infant outcomes remains unclear. We compared the effect of intermittent antenatal iron supplementation with daily iron supplementation on maternal and infant outcomes in rural Viet Nam.
Methods and Findings
This cluster randomised trial was conducted in Ha Nam province, Viet Nam. 1,258 pregnant women (<16 wk gestation) in 104 communes were assigned to daily iron–folic acid (IFA), twice weekly IFA, or twice weekly multiple micronutrient (MMN) supplementation. Primary outcome was birth weight. Mean birth weight was 3,148 g (standard deviation 416). There was no difference in the birth weights of infants of women receiving twice weekly IFA compared to daily IFA (mean difference [MD] 28 g; 95% CI −22 to 78), or twice weekly MMN compared to daily IFA (MD −36.8 g; 95% CI −82 to 8.2). At 32 wk gestation, maternal ferritin was lower in women receiving twice weekly IFA compared to daily IFA (geometric mean ratio 0.73; 95% CI 0.67 to 0.80), and in women receiving twice weekly MMN compared to daily IFA (geometric mean ratio 0.62; 95% CI 0.57 to 0.68), but there was no difference in hemoglobin levels. Infants of mothers who received twice weekly IFA had higher cognitive scores at 6 mo of age compared to those who received daily IFA (MD 1.89; 95% CI 0.23 to 3.56).
Conclusions
Twice weekly antenatal IFA or MMN did not produce a clinically important difference in birth weight, when compared to daily IFA supplementation. The significant improvement in infant cognitive outcomes at 6 mo of age following twice weekly antenatal IFA requires further exploration, and provides additional support for the use of intermittent, rather than daily, antenatal IFA in populations with low rates of iron deficiency.
Trial registration
Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry 12610000944033
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Anemia is a common condition in which the blood does not supply the body with enough oxygen because of a low number of red blood cells or low levels of hemoglobin—the iron-containing pigment that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia worldwide and, according to the World Health Organization, affects over 2 billion people: half of all pregnant women and 40% of preschool children in low- and middle-income countries are thought to be anemic. Anemia contributes to 20% of all maternal deaths and is also linked to increased maternal morbidity, higher rates of preterm birth and low birth weight, and reduced infant survival, with potential long-term consequences for child growth and development. Identifying and treating iron deficiency anemia is therefore a global health priority.
Why Was This Study Done?
Daily iron–folic acid supplementation given from early in pregnancy is the standard recommended approach to prevent and treat anemia in pregnant women, but recently the World Health Organization recommended intermittent use because of poor compliance with daily regimes (because of side effects) and poor bowel absorption. However, the evidence from many of the studies used to support this recommendation was of poor quality, and so it remains unclear whether intermittent supplementation is as, or more, effective than daily supplementation, especially in lower income settings where antenatal testing for anemia is not readily available. So in this study, the researchers conducted a community-based cluster randomized trial (where groups of people are randomized, rather than individuals) in rural Viet Nam to compare the effect of antenatal iron–folic acid supplementation taken twice weekly (either alone, or in combination with other micronutrients) with daily iron–folic acid supplementation, on maternal and infant outcomes during the first six months of life.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomized 104 communes in Ha Nam Province, Viet Nam, and enrolled 1,258 women who were less than 16 weeks pregnant into the study between September and November 2010. Although the researchers intended to register the trial before the study started, registration was delayed by a month because the supplements arrived earlier than the researchers anticipated, and they thought it best to start recruiting at that time to avoid the Vietnamese New Year, when women might be travelling. Each woman was interviewed and had blood taken for hemoglobin and iron indices (ferritin) before receiving daily iron–folic acid supplementation (426 women), twice weekly iron–folic acid supplementation (425 women), or twice weekly iron–folic acid supplementation plus micronutrients (407 women). The women had follow-up assessments at 32 weeks gestation, delivery, and at six months postpartum: their infants were assessed at birth and at six months old.
The researchers found that at enrollment, the women's average hemoglobin concentration was 123 g/l, and 12.6% of the women were anemic. At 32 weeks gestation, 10.8% of the women were anemic, but there was no difference in hemoglobin levels between the three supplement groups. The average ferritin level was 75.6 µg/l at enrollment, with 2.2% of women iron deficient. Ferritin levels decreased from enrollment to 32 weeks gestation in all supplement groups but were lower in women who took twice weekly supplements. The researchers also found that birth weight (the primary outcome) was similar in all supplement groups, and there were also no differences in gestational age or in the risk of prematurity, stillbirth, or early neonatal death. At six months, there were also no differences in the levels of infant hemoglobin, prevalence of anemia, or growth rates. However, infants born to mothers in the twice weekly iron–folic acid group had improved cognitive development compared to infants born to mothers in the daily supplement group. Finally, the researchers found that adherence rates were significantly higher in the twice weekly iron–folic acid supplement group compared to the once daily regime.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that in an area of Southeast Asia with low anemia prevalence, once daily antenatal supplementation with iron–folic acid did not provide any benefits in birth weight or improved infant growth over twice weekly supplementation. Furthermore, twice weekly supplementation with iron–folic acid was associated with improved maternal adherence rates and also improved cognitive development in infants aged six months—a finding that requires further study and provides added support for the use of intermittent iron–folic acid supplementation over daily supplementation.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001470.
The World Health Organization website has comprehensive information on anemia, including a report of global estimates and the guideline Intermittent Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation in Non-Anaemic Pregnant Women
Wikipedia provides information on iron supplementation (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001470
PMCID: PMC3708703  PMID: 23853552
20.  HIV: prevention of mother-to-child transmission  
Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:0909.
Introduction
Over 2 million children are thought to be living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, of whom over 80% live in sub-Saharan Africa. Without antiretroviral treatment, the risk of HIV transmission from infected mothers to their children is 15% to 30% during gestation or labour, with an additional transmission risk of 10% to 20% associated with prolonged breastfeeding. HIV-1 infection accounts for most infections; HIV-2 is rarely transmitted from mother to child. Transmission is more likely in mothers with high viral loads, advanced disease, or both, in the presence of other sexually transmitted diseases, and with increased exposure to maternal blood. Mixed feeding practices (breast milk plus other liquids or solids) and prolonged breastfeeding are also associated with increased risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical question: What are the effects of measures to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to October 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). We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Results
We found 53 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: antiretroviral drugs, different methods of infant feeding, elective caesarean section, immunotherapy, micronutrient supplements, vaginal microbicides, and vitamin supplements.
Key Points
Without active intervention, the risk of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV-1 is high, especially in populations where prolonged breastfeeding is the norm. Without antiviral treatment, the risk of transmission of HIV from infected mothers to their children is approximately 15% to 30% during pregnancy and labour, with an additional transmission risk of 10% to 20% associated with prolonged breastfeeding.HIV-2 is rarely transmitted from mother to child.Transmission is more likely in mothers with high viral loads, advanced HIV disease, or both.Without antiretroviral treatment (ART), 15% to 35% of vertically infected infants die within the first year of life.The long-term treatment of children with ART is complicated by multiple concerns regarding the complications associated with life-long treatment, including adverse effects of antiretroviral drugs, difficulties of adherence across the developmental trajectory of childhood and adolescence, and the development of resistance.From a paediatric perspective, successful prevention of MTCT and HIV-free survival for infants remain the most important focus.
Antiretroviral drugs given to the mother during pregnancy or labour, to the baby immediately after birth, or to the mother and baby reduce the risk of intrauterine and intrapartum MTCT of HIV-1 and when given to the infant after birth and to the mother or infant during breastfeeding reduce the risk of postpartum MTCT of HIV-1.
Reductions in MTCT are possible using multidrug ART regimens. Longer courses of ART are more effective, but the greatest benefit is derived from treatment during late pregnancy, labour, and early infancy.Suppression of the maternal viral load to undetectable levels (below 50 copies/mL) using highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) offers the greatest risk reduction, and is currently the standard of care offered in most resource-rich countries, where MTCT rates have been reduced to 1% to 2%. Alternative short-course regimens have been tested in resource-limited settings where HAART is not yet widely available. There is evidence that short courses of antiretroviral drugs have confirmed efficacy for reducing MTCT. Identifying optimal short-course regimens (drug combination, timing, and cost effectiveness) for various settings remains a focus for ongoing research.The development of viral resistance in mothers and infants after single-dose nevirapine and other short-course regimens that include single-dose nevirapine is of concern. An additional short-course of antiretrovirals with a different regimen during labour and early postpartum, and the use of HAART, may decrease the risk of viral resistance in mothers, and in infants who become HIV-infected despite prophylaxis.World Health Organization guidelines recommend starting prophylaxis with antiretroviral drugs from as early as 14 weeks' gestation, or as soon as possible if women present late in pregnancy, in labour, or at delivery.
Elective caesarean section at 38 weeks may reduce vertical transmission rates (apart from breast-milk transmission). The potential benefits of this intervention need to be balanced against the increased risk of surgery-associated complications, high cost, and feasibility issues. These reservations are particularly relevant in resource-limited settings.
Immunotherapy with HIV hyperimmune globulin seems no more effective than immunoglobulin without HIV antibody at reducing HIV-1 MTCT risk.
Vaginal microbicides have not been demonstrated to reduce HIV-1 MTCT risk.
There is no evidence that supplementation with vitamin A reduces the risk of HIV-1 MTCT, and there is concern that postnatal vitamin A supplementation for mother and infant may be associated with increased risk of mortality.
We don't know whether micronutrients are effective in prevention of MTCT of HIV as we found no RCT evidence on this outcome.
Avoidance of breastfeeding prevents postpartum transmission of HIV, but formula feeding requires access to clean water and health education. The risk of breastfeeding-related HIV transmission needs to be balanced against the multiple benefits that breastfeeding offers. In resource-poor countries, breastfeeding is strongly associated with reduced infant morbidity and improved child survival. Exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months may reduce the risk of HIV transmission compared with mixed feeding, while retaining most of its associated benefits.In a population where prolonged breastfeeding is usual, early, abrupt weaning may not reduce MTCT or HIV-free survival at 2 years compared with prolonged breastfeeding, and may be associated with a higher rate of infant mortality for those infants diagnosed as HIV-infected at <4 months of age. Antiretrovirals given to the mother or the infant during breastfeeding can reduce the risk of HIV transmission in the postpartum period. World Health Organization guidelines recommend that HIV-positive mothers should exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months, after which time appropriate complementary foods can be introduced. Breastfeeding should be continued for the first 12 months of the infant's life, and stopped only when an adequate diet without breast milk can be provided. Heat- or microbicidal-treated expressed breast milk may offer value in particular settings.
PMCID: PMC3217724  PMID: 21477392
21.  Screening and triage of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) in general population and high risk pregnancies: a systematic review with a focus on reduction of IUGR related stillbirths 
BMC Public Health  2011;11(Suppl 3):S1.
Background
There is a strong association between stillbirth and fetal growth restriction. Early detection and management of IUGR can lead to reduce related morbidity and mortality. In this paper we have reviewed effectiveness of fetal movement monitoring and Doppler velocimetry for the detection and surveillance of high risk pregnancies and the effect of this on prevention of stillbirths. We have also reviewed effect of maternal body mass index (BMI) screening, symphysial-fundal height measurement and targeted ultrasound in detection and triage of IUGR in the community.
Methods
We systematically reviewed all published literature to identify studies related to our interventions. We searched PubMed, Cochrane Library, and all World Health Organization Regional Databases and included publications in any language. Quality of available evidence was assessed using GRADE criteria. Recommendations were made for the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) based on rules developed by the Child Health Epidemiology Group. Given the paucity of evidence related to the effect of detection and management of IUGR on stillbirths, we undertook Delphi based evaluation from experts in the field.
Results
There was insufficient evidence to recommend against or in favor of routine use of fetal movement monitoring for fetal well being. (1) Detection and triage of IUGR with the help of (1a) maternal BMI screening, (1b) symphysial-fundal height measurement and (1c) targeted ultrasound can be an effective method of reducing IUGR related perinatal morbidity and mortality. Pooled results from sixteen studies shows that Doppler velocimetry of umbilical and fetal arteries in ‘high risk’ pregnancies, coupled with the appropriate intervention, can reduce perinatal mortality by 29 % [RR 0.71, 95 % CI 0.52-0.98]. Pooled results for impact on stillbirth showed a reduction of 35 % [RR 0.65, 95 % CI 0.41-1.04]; however, the results did not reach the conventional limits of statistical significance. This intervention could be potentially recommended for high income settings or middle income countries with improving rates and standards of facility based care. Based on the Delphi, a combination of screening with maternal BMI, Symphysis fundal height and targeted ultrasound followed by the appropriate management could potentially reduce antepartum and intrapartum stillbirth by 20% respectively. This estimate is presently being recommended for inclusion in the LiST.
Conclusion
There is insufficient evidence to recommend in favor or against fetal movement counting for routine use for testing fetal well being. Doppler velocimetry of umbilical and fetal arteries and appropriate intervention is associated with 29 % (95 % CI 2% to 48 %) reduction in perinatal mortality. Expert opinion suggests that detection and management of IUGR with the help of maternal BMI, symphysial-fundal height measurement and targeted ultrasound could be effective in reducing IUGR related stillbirths by 20%.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-S3-S1
PMCID: PMC3231882  PMID: 21501426
22.  Different methods for the induction of labour in outpatient settings 
Background
Induction of labour is carried out for a variety of indications and using a range of pharmacological, mechanical and other methods. For women at low risk, some methods of induction of labour may be suitable for use in outpatient settings.
Objectives
To examine pharmacological and mechanical interventions to induce labour in outpatient settings in terms of feasibility, effectiveness, maternal satisfaction, healthcare costs and, where information is available, safety. The review complements existing reviews on labour induction examining effectiveness and safety.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (December 2009) and reference lists of retrieved studies.
Selection criteria
We included randomised controlled trials examining outpatient cervical ripening or induction of labour with pharmacological agents or mechanical methods.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors independently extracted data and assessed eligible papers for risk of bias. We checked all data after entry into review manager software.
Main results
We included 28 studies with 2616 women examining different methods of induction of labour where women received treatment at home or were sent home after initial treatment and monitoring in hospital.
Studies examined vaginal and intracervical PGE2, vaginal and oral misoprostol, isosorbide mononitrate, mifepristone, oestrogens, and acupuncture. Overall, the results demonstrate that outpatient induction of labour is feasible and that important adverse events are rare. There was no strong evidence that agents used to induce labour in outpatient settings had an impact (positive or negative) on maternal or neonatal health. There was some evidence that, compared to placebo or no treatment, induction agents reduced the need for further interventions to induce labour, and shortened the interval from intervention to birth. We were unable to pool results on outcomes relating to progress in labour as studies tended to measure a very broad range of outcomes.
There was no evidence that induction agents increased interventions in labour such as operative deliveries. Only two studies provided information on women’s views about the induction process, and overall there was very little information on the costs to health service providers of different methods of labour induction in outpatient settings.
Authors’ conclusions
Induction of labour in outpatient settings appears feasible. We do not have sufficient evidence to know which induction methods are preferred by women, or the interventions that are most effective and safe to use in outpatient settings.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007701.pub2
PMCID: PMC4241469  PMID: 20687092
* Ambulatory Care; Acupuncture Therapy [methods]; Feasibility Studies; Labor, Induced [* methods]; Oxytocics; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Female; Humans; Pregnancy
23.  Effect of Facilitation of Local Maternal-and-Newborn Stakeholder Groups on Neonatal Mortality: Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001445.
Lars Åke Persson and colleagues conduct a cluster randomised control in northern Vietnam to analyze the effect of the activity of local community-based maternal-and-newborn stakeholder groups on neonatal mortality.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Facilitation of local women's groups may reportedly reduce neonatal mortality. It is not known whether facilitation of groups composed of local health care staff and politicians can improve perinatal outcomes. We hypothesised that facilitation of local stakeholder groups would reduce neonatal mortality (primary outcome) and improve maternal, delivery, and newborn care indicators (secondary outcomes) in Quang Ninh province, Vietnam.
Methods and Findings
In a cluster-randomized design 44 communes were allocated to intervention and 46 to control. Laywomen facilitated monthly meetings during 3 years in groups composed of health care staff and key persons in the communes. A problem-solving approach was employed. Births and neonatal deaths were monitored, and interviews were performed in households of neonatal deaths and of randomly selected surviving infants. A latent period before effect is expected in this type of intervention, but this timeframe was not pre-specified. Neonatal mortality rate (NMR) from July 2008 to June 2011 was 16.5/1,000 (195 deaths per 11,818 live births) in the intervention communes and 18.4/1,000 (194 per 10,559 live births) in control communes (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.96 [95% CI 0.73–1.25]). There was a significant downward time trend of NMR in intervention communes (p = 0.003) but not in control communes (p = 0.184). No significant difference in NMR was observed during the first two years (July 2008 to June 2010) while the third year (July 2010 to June 2011) had significantly lower NMR in intervention arm: adjusted OR 0.51 (95% CI 0.30–0.89). Women in intervention communes more frequently attended antenatal care (adjusted OR 2.27 [95% CI 1.07–4.8]).
Conclusions
A randomized facilitation intervention with local stakeholder groups composed of primary care staff and local politicians working for three years with a perinatal problem-solving approach resulted in increased attendance to antenatal care and reduced neonatal mortality after a latent period.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN44599712
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Over the past few years, there has been enormous international effort to meet the target set by Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce the under-five child mortality rate by two-thirds and to reduce the number of maternal deaths by three-quarters, respectively, from the 1990 level by 2015. There has been some encouraging progress and according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization, in 2011, just under 7 million children aged under 5 years died, a fall of almost 3 million from a decade ago. However, currently, 41% of all deaths among children under the age of 5 years occur around birth and the first 28 days of life (perinatal and neonatal mortality). Simple interventions can substantially reduce neonatal deaths and there have been several international, national, and local efforts to implement effective care packages to help reduce the number of neonatal deaths.
Why Was This Study Done?
In order for these interventions to be most effective, it is important that the local community becomes involved. Community mobilization, especially through local women's groups, can empower women to prioritize specific interventions to help improve their own health and that of their baby. An alternative strategy might be to mobilize people who already have responsibility to promote health and welfare in society, such as primary care staff, village health workers, and elected political representatives. However, it is unclear if the activities of such stakeholder groups result in improved neonatal survival. So in this study from northern Vietnam, the researchers analyzed the effect of the activity of local maternal-and-newborn stakeholder groups on neonatal mortality.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 2008 and 2011, the researchers conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial in 90 communes within the Quang Ninh province of northeast of Vietnam: 44 communes were allocated to intervention and 46 to the control. The local women's union facilitated recruitment to the intervention, local stakeholder groups (Maternal and Newborn Health Groups), which comprised primary care staff, village health workers, women's union representatives, and the person with responsibility for health in the commune. The groups' role was to identify and prioritize local perinatal health problems and implement actions to help overcome these problems.
Over the three-year period, the Maternal and Newborn Health Groups in the 44 intervention communes had 1,508 meetings. Every year 15–27 unique problems were identified and addressed 94–151 times. The problem-solving processes resulted in an annual number of 19–27 unique actions that were applied 297–649 times per year. The top priority problems and actions identified by these groups dealt with antenatal care attendance, post-natal visits, nutrition and rest during pregnancy, home deliveries, and breast feeding. Neonatal mortality in the intervention group did not change over the first two years but showed a significant improvement in the third year. The three leading causes of death were prematurity/low birth-weight (36%), intrapartum-related neonatal deaths (30%), and infections (15%). Stillbirth rates were 7.4 per 1,000 births in the intervention arm and 9.0 per 1,000 births in the control arm. There was one maternal death in the intervention communes and four in the control communes and there was a significant improvement in antenatal care attendance in the intervention arm. However, there were no significant differences between the intervention and control groups of other outcomes, including tetanus immunization, delivery preparedness, institutional delivery, temperature control at delivery, early initiation of breastfeeding, or home visit of a midwife during the first week after delivery.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that local stakeholder groups comprised of primary care staff and local politicians using a problem-solving approach may help to reduce the neonatal mortality rate after three years of implementation (although the time period for an expected reduction in neonatal mortality was not specified before the trial started) and may also increase the rate of antenatal care attendance. However, the intervention had no effect on other important outcomes such as the rate of institutional delivery and breast feeding. This study used a novel approach of community-based activity that was implemented into the public sector system at low cost. A further reduction in neonatal deaths around delivery might be achieved by neonatal resuscitation training and home visits to the mother and her baby.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001445.
The World Health Organization provides comprehensive statistics on neonatal mortality
The Healthy Newborn Network has information on community interventions to help reduce neonatal mortality from around the world
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001445
PMCID: PMC3653802  PMID: 23690755
24.  Maternity waiting facilities for improving maternal and neonatal outcome in low-resource countries 
Background
A maternity waiting home (MWH) is a facility within easy reach of a hospital or health centre which provides emergency obstetric care (EmOC). Women may stay in the MWH at the end of their pregnancy and await labour. Once labour starts, women move to the health facility so that labour and giving birth can be assisted by a skilled birth attendant. The aim of the MWH is to improve accessibility to skilled care and thus reduce morbidity and mortality for mother and neonate should complications arise. Some studies report a favourable effect on the outcomes for women and their newborns. Others show that utilisation is low and barriers exist. However, these data are limited in their reliability.
Objectives
To assess the effects of a maternity waiting facility on maternal and perinatal health.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (27 January 2012), CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library 2011, Issue 4 of 4), MEDLINE (1966 to January 2012), EMBASE (1980 to January 2012), CINAHL (1982 to January 2012), African Journals Online (AJOL) (January 2012), POPLINE (January 2012), Dissertation Abstracts (January 2012) and reference lists of retrieved papers.
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials including quasi-randomised and cluster-randomised trials that compared perinatal and maternal outcome in women using a MWH and women who did not.
Data collection and analysis
There were no randomised controlled trials or cluster-randomised trials identified from the search.
Main results
There were no randomised controlled trials or cluster-randomised trials identified from the search.
Authors’ conclusions
There is insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of maternity waiting facilities for improving maternal and neonatal outcomes.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006759.pub3
PMCID: PMC4098659  PMID: 23076927
25.  Nifedipine versus atosiban in the treatment of threatened preterm labour (Assessment of Perinatal Outcome after Specific Tocolysis in Early Labour: APOSTEL III-Trial) 
Background
Preterm birth is the most common cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. Postponing delivery for 48 hours with tocolytics to allow for maternal steroid administration and antenatal transportation to a centre with neonatal intensive care unit facilities is the standard treatment for women with threatening preterm delivery in most centres. However, there is controversy as to which tocolytic agent is the drug of first choice. Previous trials have focused on tocolytic efficacy and side effects, and are probably underpowered to detect clinically meaningfull differences in neonatal outcome. Thus, the current evidence is inconclusive to support a balanced recommendation for clinical practice. This multicenter randomised clinical trial aims to compare nifedipine and atosiban in terms of neonatal outcome, duration of pregnancy and maternal side effects.
Methods/Design
The Apostel III trial is a nationwide multicenter randomised controlled study. Women with threatened preterm labour (gestational age 25 – 34 weeks) defined as at least 3 contractions per 30 minutes, and 1) a cervical length of ≤ 10 mm or 2) a cervical length of 11-30 mm and a positive Fibronectin test or 3) ruptured membranes will be randomly allocated to treatment with nifedipine or atosiban. Primary outcome is a composite measure of severe neonatal morbidity and mortality. Secondary outcomes will be time to delivery, gestational age at delivery, days on ventilation support, neonatal intensive care (NICU) admittance, length admission in neonatal intensive care, total days in hospital until 3 months corrected age, convulsions, apnoea, asphyxia, proven meningitis, pneumothorax, maternal side effects and costs. Furthermore, an economic evaluation of the treatment will be performed. Analysis will be by intention to treat principle. The power calculation is based on an expected 10% difference in the prevalence of adverse neonatal outcome. This implies that 500 women have to be randomised (two sided test, β 0.2 at alpha 0.05).
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence on the optimal drug of choice in acute tocolysis in threatening preterm labour.
Trial registration
Clinical trial registration: NTR2947, date of registration: June 20th 2011.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-93
PMCID: PMC3944539  PMID: 24589124
Preterm birth; Tocolytics; Nifedipine; Atosiban; Outcome; Drug safety

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