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1.  Frequency of the Congenital Transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and endemic in much of Latin America. With increased globalization and immigration, it is a risk in any country due in part to congenital transmission. The frequency of congenital transmission is unclear.
To assess the frequency of congenital transmission of T. cruzi.
Search Strategy
PubMed, Journals@Ovid Full Text, EMBASE, CINAHL, Fuente Academica and BIREME databases were searched using seven search terms related to Chagas disease or Trypanosoma cruzi and congenital transmission.
Selection Criteria
The inclusion criteria were the following: Dutch, English, French, Portuguese or Spanish language; case report, case series or observational study; original data on congenital T. cruzi infection in humans; congenital infection rate reported or it could be derived. This systematic review included 13 case reports/series and 51 observational studies.
Data Collection and Analysis
Two investigators independently collected data on study characteristics, diagnosis and congenital infection rate. The principal summary measure – the congenital transmission rate – is defined as the number of congenitally infected infants divided by the number of infants born to infected mothers. A random effects model was utilized.
Main Results
The pooled congenital transmission rate was 4.7% (95% confidence interval: 3.9–5.6%). Endemic countries had a higher rate of congenital transmission compared to non-endemic (5.0% vs. 2.7%).
Congenital transmission of Chagas disease is a global problem. Overall risk of congenital infection in infants born to infected mothers is about 5%. The congenital mode of transmission requires targeted screening to prevent future cases of Chagas disease.
PMCID: PMC3914719  PMID: 23924273
Trypanosoma cruzi; congenital infection; Chagas disease; systematic review; meta-analysis
2.  Symptomatic Dengue Infection during Pregnancy and Infant Outcomes: A Retrospective Cohort Study 
Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease that is common in many tropical and subtropical areas. Dengue infections can occur at any age and time in the lifespan, including during pregnancy. Few large scale studies have been conducted to determine the risk of preterm birth (PTB) and low birthweight (LBW) for infants born to women who had symptomatic dengue infection during pregnancy.
Methodology/Principal Findings
This study is a retrospective cohort study using medical records from 1992–2010 from pregnant women who attended a public regional referral hospital in western French Guiana. Exposed pregnancies were those with laboratory confirmed cases of dengue fever during pregnancy. Each of the 86 exposed infants was matched to the three unexposed births that immediately followed them to form a stratum. Conditional logistic regression was used to analyze these matched strata. Three groups were examined: all infants regardless of gestational age, only infants> = 17 weeks of gestational age and their strata, and only infants> = 22 weeks of age and their strata. Odds ratios were adjusted (aOR) for maternal age, maternal ethnicity, maternal gravidity, interpregnancy interval and maternal anemia. There was an increased risk of PTB among women with symptomatic dengue; (aOR all infants: 3.34 (1.13, 9.89), aOR 17 weeks: 1.89 (0.61, 5.87), aOR 22 weeks: 1.41 (0.39, 5.20)) but this risk was only statistically significant when all infants were examined (p value = 0.03). Adjusted results for LBW were similar, with an increased risk in the exposed group (aOR All infants: 2.23 (1.01, 4.90), aOR 17 weeks: 1.67 (0.71, 3.93), aOR 22 weeks: 1.43 (0.56, 3.70)) which was only statistically significant when all infants were examined (p value = 0.05).
Symptomatic dengue infection during pregnancy may increase the risk of PTB and LBW for infants. More research is needed to confirm these results and to examine the role of dengue fever in miscarriage.
Author Summary
Previous studies have reported that dengue fever during pregnancy may be related to preterm birth and low birthweight among infants. However, few studies have used an appropriate control group to compare the risk of these outcomes for infants whose mothers had dengue fever to infants whose mothers did not. We designed this study to provide information on the amount of risk (odds ratios) and the stability of this risk (confidence intervals) of being born preterm or with low birthweight to a mother with documented dengue infection during the pregnancy. In this study there was an increased risk among pregnant women with symptomatic dengue to deliver infants who are preterm or low birthweight, but both the amount of risk and the stability of this risk were affected by the inclusion or exclusion of miscarriages (infants born before 22 weeks of gestational age) This suggests that women who are pregnant should take extra precautions to avoid dengue infections during pregnancy, since it may cause an early delivery, or the birth of a small infant.
PMCID: PMC4191958  PMID: 25299383
4.  High Mortality Rates for Very Low Birth Weight Infants in Developing Countries Despite Training 
Pediatrics  2010;126(5):e1072-e1080.
The goal was to determine the effect of training in newborn care and resuscitation on 7-day (early) neonatal mortality rates for very low birth weight (VLBW) infants. The study was designed to test the hypothesis that these training programs would reduce neonatal mortality rates for VLBW infants.
Local instructors trained birth attendants from 96 rural communities in 6 developing countries in protocol and data collection, the World Health Organization Essential Newborn Care (ENC) course, and a modified version of the American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP), by using a train-the-trainer model. To test the impact of ENC training, data on infants of 500 to 1499 g were collected by using a before/after, active baseline, controlled study design. A cluster-randomized, controlled trial design was used to test the impact of the NRP.
A total of 1096 VLBW (500–1499 g) infants were enrolled, and 98.5% of live-born infants were monitored to 7 days. All-cause, 7-day neonatal mortality, stillbirth, and perinatal mortality rates were not affected by ENC or NRP training.
Neither ENC nor NRP training of birth attendants decreased 7-day neonatal, stillbirth, or perinatal mortality rates for VLBW infants born at home or at first-level facilities. Encouragement of delivery in a facility where a higher level of care is available may be preferable when delivery of a VLBW infant is expected.
PMCID: PMC3918943  PMID: 20937655
neonatal mortality; perinatal mortality; stillbirth; developing countries; health care systems; very low birth weight; prematurity
5.  Preterm birth, an unresolved issue 
Reproductive Health  2013;10:58.
Premature birth is the world’s leading cause of neonatal mortality with worldwide estimates indicating 11.1% of all live births were preterm in 2010. Preterm birth rates are increasing in most countries with continual differences in survival rates amongst rich and poor countries. Preterm birth is currently an important unresolved global issue with research efforts focusing on uterine quiescence and activation, the ‘omics’ approaches and implementation science in order to reduce the incidence and increase survival rates of preterm babies. The journal Reproductive Health has published a supplement entitled Born Too Soon which addresses factors in the preconception and pregnancy period which may increase the risk of preterm birth and also outlines potential interventions which may reduce preterm birth rates and improve survival of preterm babies by as much as 84% annually. This is critical in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG 4) for child survival by 2015 and beyond.
PMCID: PMC3842828  PMID: 24228615
6.  Congenital transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi in Argentina, Honduras, and Mexico: study protocol 
Reproductive Health  2013;10:55.
Trypanosoma cruzi has been divided into Discrete Typing Units I and non-I (II-VI). T. cruzi I is predominant in Mexico and Central America, while non-I is predominant in most of South America, including Argentina. Little is known about congenital transmission of T. cruzi I. The specific aim of this study is to determine the rate of congenital transmission of T. cruzi I compared to non-I.
We are conducting a prospective study to enroll at delivery, 10,000 women in Argentina, 7,500 women in Honduras, and 13,000 women in Mexico. We are measuring transmitted maternal T. cruzi antibodies by performing two rapid tests in cord blood (Stat-Pak, Chembio, Medford, New York, and Trypanosoma Detect, InBios, Seattle, Washington). If at least one of the results is positive, we are identifying infants who are congenitally infected by performing parasitological examinations on cord blood and at 4–8 weeks, and serological follow-up at 10 months. Serological confirmation by ELISA (Wiener, Rosario, Argentina) is performed in cord and maternal blood, and at 10 months. We also are performing T. cruzi standard PCR, real-time quantitative PCR and genotyping on maternal venous blood and on cord blood, and serological examinations on siblings. Data are managed by a Data Center in Montevideo, Uruguay. Data are entered online at the sites in an OpenClinica data management system, and digital pictures of data forms are sent to the Data Center for quality control. Weekly reports allow for rapid feedback to the sites.
Trial registration
Observational study with Identifier NCT01787968
PMCID: PMC3852796  PMID: 24119247
Trypanosoma cruzi; Chagas disease; Congenital transmission; Latin America
7.  A combined community- and facility-based approach to improve pregnancy outcomes in low-resource settings: a Global Network cluster randomized trial 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:215.
Fetal and neonatal mortality rates in low-income countries are at least 10-fold greater than in high-income countries. These differences have been related to poor access to and poor quality of obstetric and neonatal care.
This trial tested the hypothesis that teams of health care providers, administrators and local residents can address the problem of limited access to quality obstetric and neonatal care and lead to a reduction in perinatal mortality in intervention compared to control locations. In seven geographic areas in five low-income and one middle-income country, most with high perinatal mortality rates and substantial numbers of home deliveries, we performed a cluster randomized non-masked trial of a package of interventions that included community mobilization focusing on birth planning and hospital transport, community birth attendant training in problem recognition, and facility staff training in the management of obstetric and neonatal emergencies. The primary outcome was perinatal mortality at ≥28 weeks gestation or birth weight ≥1000 g.
Despite extensive effort in all sites in each of the three intervention areas, no differences emerged in the primary or any secondary outcome between the intervention and control clusters. In both groups, the mean perinatal mortality was 40.1/1,000 births (P = 0.9996). Neither were there differences between the two groups in outcomes in the last six months of the project, in the year following intervention cessation, nor in the clusters that best implemented the intervention.
This cluster randomized comprehensive, large-scale, multi-sector intervention did not result in detectable impact on the proposed outcomes. While this does not negate the importance of these interventions, we expect that achieving improvement in pregnancy outcomes in these settings will require substantially more obstetric and neonatal care infrastructure than was available at the sites during this trial, and without them provider training and community mobilization will not be sufficient. Our results highlight the critical importance of evaluating outcomes in randomized trials, as interventions that should be effective may not be.
Trial registration NCT01073488
PMCID: PMC3853358  PMID: 24090370
Stillbirth; Neonatal mortality; Maternal mortality; Emergency obstetric care
8.  Assessment of Obstetric and Neonatal Health Services in Developing Country Health Facilities 
American journal of perinatology  2013;30(9):787-794.
To describe the staffing and availability of medical equipment and medications and the performance of procedures at health facilities providing maternal and neonatal care at African, Asian, and Latin American sites participating in a multicenter trial to improve emergency obstetric/neonatal care in communities with high maternal and perinatal mortality.
Study Design
In 2009, prior to intervention, we surveyed 136 hospitals and 228 clinics in 7 sites in Africa, Asia, and Latin America regarding staffing, availability of equipment/ medications, and procedures including cesarean section.
The coverage of physicians and nurses/midwives was poor in Africa and Latin America. In Africa, only 20% of hospitals had full-time physicians. Only 70% of hospitals in Africa and Asia had performed cesarean sections in the last 6 months. Oxygen was unavailable in 40% of African hospitals and 17% of Asian hospitals. Blood was unavailable in 80% of African and Asian hospitals.
Assuming that adequate facility services are necessary to improve pregnancy outcomes, it is not surprising that maternal and perinatal mortality rates in the areas surveyed are high. The data presented emphasize that to reduce mortality in these areas, resources that result in improved staffing and sufficient equipment, supplies, and medication, along with training, are required.
PMCID: PMC3664648  PMID: 23329566
emergency obstetric and neonatal care; developing countries; perinatal mortality
9.  The Maternal and Newborn Health Registry Study of the Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research 
To implement a vital statistics registry system to register pregnant women and document birth outcomes in the Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research sites in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
The Global Network sites began a prospective population-based pregnancy registry to identify all pregnant women and record pregnancy outcomes up to 42 days post-delivery in more than 100 defined low-resource geographic areas (clusters). Pregnant women were registered during pregnancy, with 42-day maternal and neonatal follow-up recorded—including care received during the pregnancy and postpartum periods. Recorded outcomes included stillbirth, neonatal mortality, and maternal mortality rates.
In 2010, 72 848 pregnant women were enrolled and 6-week follow-up was obtained for 97.8%. Across sites, 40.7%, 24.8%, and 34.5% of births occurred in a hospital, health center, and home setting, respectively. The mean neonatal mortality rate was 23 per 1000 live births, ranging from 8.2 to 48.5 per 1000 live births. The mean stillbirth rate ranged from 13.7 to 54.4 per 1000 births.
The registry is an ongoing study to assess the impact of interventions and trends regarding pregnancy outcomes and measures of care to inform public health.
PMCID: PMC3417109  PMID: 22738806
Maternal mortality; Neonatal mortality; Perinatal mortality; Pregnancy; Registry; Stillbirth
10.  Tobacco cessation intervention for pregnant women in Argentina and Uruguay: study protocol 
Reproductive Health  2013;10:44.
Argentina and Uruguay are among the countries with the highest proportion of pregnant women who smoke. The implementation of an effective smoking cessation intervention would have a significant impact on the health of mothers and infants. The “5 A’s” (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, Arrange) is a strategy consisting of a brief cessation counseling session of 5–15 minutes delivered by a trained provider. The “5 A’s” is considered the standard of care worldwide; however, it is under used in Argentina and Uruguay.
We will conduct a two-arm, parallel cluster randomized controlled trial of an implementation intervention in 20 prenatal care settings in Argentina and Uruguay. Prenatal care settings will be randomly allocated to either an intervention or a control group after a baseline data collection period. Midwives’ facilitators in the 10 intervention prenatal clinics (clusters) will be identified and trained to deliver the “5 A’s” to pregnant women and will then disseminate and implement the program. The 10 clusters in the control group will continue with their standard in-service activities. The intervention will be tailored by formative research to be readily applicable to local prenatal care services at maternity hospitals and acceptable to local pregnant women and health providers. Our primary hypothesis is that the intervention is feasible in prenatal clinics in Argentina and Uruguay and will increase the frequency of women receiving tobacco use cessation counseling during pregnancy in the intervention clinics compared to the control clinics. Our secondary hypotheses are that the intervention will decrease the frequency of women who smoke by the end of pregnancy, and that the intervention will increase the attitudes and readiness of midwives towards providing counseling to women in the intervention clinics compared to the control clinics.
Trial registration Identifier: NCT01852617
PMCID: PMC3765647  PMID: 23971512
Pregnancy; Smoking cessation; Guidelines
11.  Neonatal outcomes in obese mothers: a population-based analysis 
If it is well known that obesity increases morbidity for both mother and fetus and is associated with a variety of adverse reproductive outcomes, then few studies have assessed the relation between obesity and neonatal outcomes. This is the aim of the present study after taking into account type of labor and delivery, as well as social, medical and hospital characteristics in a population-based analysis.
This study used 2009 data from the Belgian birth register data pertaining to the regions of Brussels and Wallonia and included 38,675 consecutive births. Odds ratio and 95% confidence intervals for admission to neonatal intensive care unit, Apgar score, and perinatal mortality were calculated by logistic regression analyses adjusting for medical, social and hospital characteristics using obesity as the primary independent variable. The impact of analyzing all delivery sites together was tested using mixed-effect analyses.
The adjusted odds ratio for neonatal intensive care unit admission was higher for obese mothers by 38% compared to non-obese mothers (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.22-1.56), and by 45% (CI: 1.21-1.73) and 34% (CI: 1.10-1.63) after spontaneous and induced labour respectively. The adjusted odds ratio was 1.18 (CI: 0.86-1.63) after caesarean section. The adjusted odds ratio for 1 minute Apgar score inferior to 7 was higher for obese mothers by 31% compared to non-obese mothers (CI: 1.15-1.49) and by 26% (CI: 1.04-1.52) and 38% (CI: 1.12-1.69) after spontaneous and induced labour respectively. The adjusted odds ratio was 1.50 (CI: 0.96-2.36) after caesarean section. The adjusted odds ratio for perinatal mortality was 1.36 (CI: 0.75-2.45) for obese mothers compared to non-obese mothers.
Neonatal admission to intensive care and low Apgar scores were more likely to occur in infants from obese mothers, both after spontaneous and induced labor.
PMCID: PMC3575268  PMID: 23398843
Obesity (MeSH); Intensive care; Neonatal (MeSH); Apgar score (MeSH); Perinatal mortality (MeSH); Obstetric delivery (MeSH); Obstetric labor (MeSH)
12.  Newborn Care Training and Perinatal Mortality in Communities in Developing Countries 
The New England journal of medicine  2010;362(7):614-623.
Ninety-eight percent of the 3.7 million neonatal deaths and 3.3 million stillbirths per year occur in developing countries, and evaluation of community-based interventions is needed.
Using a train-the-trainer model, local instructors trained birth attendants from rural communities in six countries (Argentina, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, India, Pakistan, and Zambia) in the World Health Organization Essential Newborn Care course (routine neonatal care, resuscitation, thermoregulation, breastfeeding, kangaroo care, care of the small baby, and common illnesses), and in a modified version of the American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program (in depth basic resuscitation), except in Argentina.
The Essential Newborn Care intervention was assessed with a before and after design (N=57, 643). The Neonatal Resuscitation Program intervention was assessed as a cluster randomized controlled trial (N=62,366). The primary outcome was 7-day neonatal mortality.
The 7-day follow-up rate was 99.2%. Following Essential Newborn Care training, there was no significant reduction from baseline in all-cause 7-day neonatal (RR 0.99; CI 0.81, 1.22) or perinatal mortality; there was a significant reduction in the stillbirth rate (RR 0.69; CI 0.54, 0.88; p<0.01). Seven-day neonatal mortality, stillbirth, and perinatal mortality were not reduced in clusters randomized to Neonatal Resuscitation Program training as compared with control clusters.
Seven-day neonatal mortality did not decrease following the introduction of Essential Newborn Care training of community-based birth attendants, although the rate of stillbirths was reduced following this intervention. Subsequent training in the Neonatal Resuscitation Program did not significantly reduce the mortality rates. ( number, NCT00136708).
PMCID: PMC3565382  PMID: 20164485
neonatal mortality; perinatal mortality; developing countries; health systems; effectiveness
13.  Hurricane Katrina Experience and the Risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression among Pregnant Women 
Little is known about the effects of disaster exposure and intensity on the development of mental disorders among pregnant women. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of exposure to Hurricane Katrina on mental health in pregnant women.
Prospective cohort epidemiological study.
Tertiary hospitals in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, USA.
Women who were pregnant during Hurricane Katrina or became pregnant immediately after the hurricane.
Main outcome measures
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.
The frequency of PTSD was higher in women with high hurricane exposure (13.8%) than women without high hurricane exposure (1.3%), with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of 16.8; 95 % confidence interval (CI): 2.6-106.6; after adjustment for maternal race, age, education, smoking and alcohol use, family income, parity, and other confounders. The frequency of depression was higher in women with high hurricane exposure (32.3%) than women without high hurricane exposure (12.3%), with aOR of 3.3 (1.6-7.1). Moreover, the risk of PTSD and depression increased with an increasing number of severe experiences of the hurricane.
Pregnant women who had severe hurricane experiences were at a significantly increased risk for PTSD and depression. This information should be useful for screening pregnant women who are at higher risk of developing mental disorders after disaster.
PMCID: PMC3501144  PMID: 20701175
Depression; disaster; Hurricane Katrina; post-traumatic stress disorder; pregnancy
14.  Missing information in birth certificates in Brussels after reinforcement of data collection, and variation according to immigration status. A population-based study 
Archives of Public Health  2012;70(1):25.
A problem repeatedly reported in birth certificate data is the presence of missing data. In 2008, a Centre for Perinatal Epidemiology was created inter alia to assist the Health Departments of Brussels-Capital City Region to check birth certificates. The purpose of this study is to assess the changes brought by the Centre in terms of completeness of data registration for the entire population and according to immigration status.
Birth certificates from the birth registry of 2008 and 2009 of Brussels were considered. We evaluated the initial missing information in January 2008 (baseline situation) and the corresponding rate at the end of 2008 after oral and written information had been given to the city civil servants and health providers. The data were evaluated again at the end of 2009 where no reinforcement rules were adopted. We also measured residual missing data after correction in socio-economic and medical data, for the entire population and according to maternal nationality of origin. Changes in registration of stillbirths were estimated by comparison to 2007 baseline data, and all multiple births were checked for complete identification of pairs.
Missing information initially accounted for 64.0%, 20.8% and 19.5% of certificates in January 2008, December 2008, and 2009 respectively. After correction with lists sent back to the hospitals or city offices, the mean residual missing data rate was 2.1% in 2008 and 0.8% in 2009. Education level and employment status were missing more often in immigrant mothers compared to Belgian natives both in 2008 and 2009. Mothers from Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest missing rate of socio-economic data. The stillbirth rate increased from 4.6 ‰ in 2007 to 8.2 ‰ in 2009. All twin pairs were identified, but early loss of a co-twin before 22 weeks was rarely reported.
Reinforcement of data collection was associated with a decrease of missing information. The residual missing data rate was very low. The stillbirth rate was also improved but the early loss of a co-twin before 22 weeks seems to remain underreported.
PMCID: PMC3523021  PMID: 23137069
Birth certificates; Validation studies; Bias; Epidemiologic
15.  Hurricane Katrina-related maternal stress, maternal mental health, and early infant temperament 
Maternal and child health journal  2009;14(4):511-518.
To investigate temperament in infants whose mothers were exposed to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and to determine if high hurricane exposure is associated with difficult infant temperament. A prospective cohort study of women giving birth in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, LA (n=288) in 2006–2007 was conducted. Questionnaires and interviews assessed the mother’s experiences during the hurricane, living conditions, and psychological symptoms, two months and 12 months postpartum. Infant temperament characteristics were reported by the mother using the activity, adaptability, approach, intensity, and mood scales of the Early Infant and Toddler Temperament Questionnaires, and “difficult temperament” was defined as scoring in the top quartile for three or more of the scales. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between hurricane experience, mental health, and infant temperament. Serious experiences of the hurricane did not strongly increase the risk of difficult infant temperament (association with 3 or more serious experiences of the hurricane: adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.50, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.63–3.58 at 2 months; 0.58, 0.15–2.28 at 12 months). Maternal mental health was associated with report of difficult infant temperament, with women more likely to report having a difficult infant temperament at one year if they had screened positive for PTSD (aOR 1.82, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.61–5.41), depression, (aOR 3.16, 95% CI 1.22–8.20) or hostility (aOR 2.17, 95% CI 0.81–5.82) at 2 months. Large associations between maternal stress due to a natural disaster and infant temperament were not seen, but maternal mental health was associated with reporting difficult temperament. Further research is needed to determine the effects of maternal exposure to disasters on child temperament, but in order to help babies born in the aftermath of disaster, the focus may need to be on the mother’s mental health.
PMCID: PMC3472436  PMID: 19554438
infant temperament; natural disaster; postpartum depression; post-traumatic stress disorder
16.  Combined effects of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Gustav on the mental health of mothers of small children 
Few studies assessed the results of multiple exposures to disaster. Our objective was to examine the effect of experiencing Hurricane Gustav on mental health of women previously exposed to Hurricane Katrina. 102 women from Southern Louisiana were interviewed by telephone. Experience of the hurricanes was assessed with questions about injury, danger, and damage, while depression was assessed with the Edinburgh Depression Scale and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) using the Post-traumatic Checklist. Minor stressors, social support, trait resilience, and perceived benefit had been measured previously. Mental health was examined with linear and log-linear models. Women who had a severe experience of both Gustav and Katrina scored higher on the mental health scales, but finding new ways to cope after Katrina or feeling more prepared was not protective. About half the population had better mental health scores after Gustav than at previous measures. Improvement was more likely among those who reported high social support or low levels of minor stressors, or were younger. Trait resilience mitigated the effect of hurricane exposure. Multiple disaster experiences are associated with worse mental health overall, though many women are resilient. Perceiving benefit after the first disaster was not protective.
PMCID: PMC3472438  PMID: 21418428
disaster; depression; post-traumatic stress disorder; women
17.  Experience of Hurricane Katrina and reported intimate partner violence 
Journal of interpersonal violence  2010;26(4):833-845.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) has been associated with stress, but few studies have examined the effect of natural disaster on IPV. In this study, we examine the relationship between experience of Hurricane Katrina and reported relationship aggression and violence in a cohort of 123 postpartum women. Hurricane experience was measured using a series of questions about damage, injury, and danger during the storm; IPV was measured using the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS-2). Multiple log-poisson regression was used to calculate relative risks, adjusted for potential confounders. Most reported that they and their partners had explained themselves to each other, showed each other respect, and also insulted, swore, or shouted during conflicts with each other. Much smaller proportions reported physical violence, sexual force, or destroying property, though in each case at least 5% endorsed that it had happened at least once in the last six months. Similar proportions reported that they and their partners had carried out these actions. Experiencing damage due to the storm was associated with increased likelihood of most conflict tactics. Strong relative risks were seen for the relationship between damage due to the storm and aggression or violence, especially being insulted, sworn, shouted, or yelled at (adjusted relative risk [aRR]1.23, 1.02–1.48), pushed, shoved, or slapped (aRR 5.28, 95% CI 1.93–14.45), or being punched, kicked, or beat up (aRR 8.25, 1.68–40.47). Our results suggest that certain experiences of the hurricane are associated with an increased likelihood of violent methods of conflict resolution. Relief and medical workers may need to be aware of the possibility of increased IPV after disaster.
PMCID: PMC3472442  PMID: 20495099
18.  Antenatal corticosteroids trial in preterm births to increase neonatal survival in developing countries: study protocol 
Reproductive Health  2012;9:22.
Preterm birth is a major cause of neonatal mortality, responsible for 28% of neonatal deaths overall. The administration of antenatal corticosteroids to women at high risk of preterm birth is a powerful perinatal intervention to reduce neonatal mortality in resource rich environments. The effect of antenatal steroids to reduce mortality and morbidity among preterm infants in hospital settings in developed countries with high utilization is well established, yet they are not routinely used in developing countries. The impact of increasing antenatal steroid use in hospital or community settings with low utilization rates and high infant mortality among premature infants due to lack of specialized services has not been well researched. There is currently no clear evidence about the safety of antenatal corticosteroid use for community-level births.
We hypothesize that a multi country, two-arm, parallel cluster randomized controlled trial to evaluate whether a multifaceted intervention to increase the use of antenatal corticosteroids, including components to improve the identification of pregnancies at high risk of preterm birth and providing and facilitating the appropriate use of steroids, will reduce neonatal mortality at 28 days of life in preterm newborns, compared with the standard delivery of care in selected populations of six countries. 102 clusters in Argentina, Guatemala, Kenya, India, Pakistan, and Zambia will be randomized, and around 60,000 women and newborns will be enrolled. Kits containing vials of dexamethasone, syringes, gloves, and instructions for administration will be distributed. Improving the identification of women at high risk of preterm birth will be done by (1) diffusing recommendations for antenatal corticosteroids use to health providers, (2) training health providers on identification of women at high risk of preterm birth, (3) providing reminders to health providers on the use of the kits, and (4) using a color-coded tape to measure uterine height to estimate gestational age in women with unknown gestational age. In both intervention and control clusters, health providers will be trained in essential newborn care for low birth weight babies. The primary outcome is neonatal mortality at 28 days of life in preterm infants.
Trial registration Identifier: NCT01084096
PMCID: PMC3477119  PMID: 22992312
Neonatal mortality; Antenatal corticosteroids; Implementation research; Preterm birth
The Journal of parasitology  2010;97(2):338-343.
We sought to determine the serological test that could be used for Trypanosoma cruzi seroprevalence studies in Mexico, where lineage I predominates. In a previous study among pregnant women and their newborns in the states of Yucatan and Guanajuato, we reported a 0.8–0.9% of prevalence for T. cruzi–specific antibodies by Stat-Pak and Wiener ELISA. We have expanded this study here by performing an additional non-commercial ELISA and confirming the seropositives with Western blot, using whole antigens of a local parasite strain. We found a seroprevalence of 0.6% (3/500) in Merida and 0.4% in Guanajuato (2/488). The 5 seropositive umbilical cord samples reacted to both non-commercial ELISA and Western blot tests, and only 1 of the maternal samples was not reactive to non-commercial ELISA. A follow-up of the newborns at 10 mo was performed in Yucatan to determine the presence of T. cruzi antibodies in children as evidence of congenital infection. None of the children was seropositive. One newborn from an infected mother died at 2 wk of age of cardiac arrest, but T. cruzi infection was not confirmed. The T. cruzi seroprevalence data obtained with both commercial tests (Stat-Pak and ELISA Wiener) are similar to those from non-commercial tests using a local Mexican strain of T. cruzi.
PMCID: PMC3439135  PMID: 21506787
20.  Epidemiology of stillbirth in low-middle income countries: A Global Network Study 
To determine population-based stillbirth rates and to determine whether the timing and maturity of the stillbirths suggest a high proportion of potentially preventable deaths.
Prospective observational study.
Communities in six low-income countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Zambia, Guatemala, India, and Pakistan) and one site in a mid-income country (Argentina).
Pregnant women residing in the study communities.
Over a five-year period, in selected catchment areas, using multiple methodologies, trained study staff obtained pregnancy outcomes on each delivery in their area.
Main outcome measures
Pregnancy outcome, stillbirth characteristics.
Outcomes of 195 400 deliveries were included. Stillbirth rates ranged from 32 per 1 000 in Pakistan to 8 per 1 000 births in Argentina. Three-fourths (76%) of stillbirth off-spring were not macerated, 63% were ≥37 weeks and 48% weighed 2 500g or more. Across all sites, women with no education, of high and low parity, of older age, and without access to antenatal care were at significantly greater risk for stillbirth (p<0.001). Compared to those delivered by a physician, women delivered by nurses and traditional birth attendants had a lower risk of stillbirth.
In these low-middle income countries, most stillbirth offspring were not macerated, were reported as ≥37 weeks’ gestation, and almost half weighed at least 2 500g. With access to better medical care, especially in the intrapartum period, many of these stillbirths could likely be prevented.
PMCID: PMC3412613  PMID: 21916854
Developing countries; intrapartum stillbirth; stillbirth
21.  Interest of pregnant women in the use of SMS (short message service) text messages for the improvement of perinatal and postnatal care 
Mobile health (mHealth) is emerging as a useful tool to improve healthcare access especially in the developing world, where limited access to health services is linked to poor antenatal care, and maternal and perinatal mortality.
The objective of this study is to 1) understand pregnant women’s access and usage of cell phones and 2) survey the health information needs and interests in a population attending public hospitals and health centers of two cities in Argentina. This information is not available and it is the basis to develop a strategy for improving maternal care via cell phones.
Questionnaires were verbally administered to pregnant women who were attending an antenatal care visit in community health centers and public hospitals in Rosario, Santa Fe and Mercedes, Corrientes. Participants were 18 years of age or older and had previously given birth. The data obtained was qualitative and analyzed using SPSS version 18.
A total of 147 pregnant women meeting inclusion criteria (Rosario: 63; Mercedes: 84) were approached and verbally consented to participate. The average age was 29.5 years, most lived in urban areas (89%) with a mean travel time of 43.4 minutes required to get to the health center and 57.3 minutes to get the hospital.
Ninety-six percent of women (n = 140) responded that they would like to receive text messages and cell phone calls with information regarding prenatal care, although the topics and period of time to receive information varied greatly.
Considering the vast majority of the interviewed women had access to and were interested in receiving text messages and calls with educational information regarding pregnancy and infant health, pregnant women in Argentina could benefit from such an mHealth program. The low access to Internet suggests it is not an option for this population; however, this cannot be assumed as representative of the country’s situation.
To retain active participation, other forms of health communication, such as a 2-way text message systems or toll-free numbers, could be considered in the future. Cost of use and implementing these options should be studied.
PMCID: PMC3453517  PMID: 22866753
mHealth; Mobile health; SMS text messages; Perinatal; Prenatal; Healthcare; Argentina
22.  Accouchées avec statut sérologique VIH inconnu à Lubumbashi, RD Congo: proportion et déterminants 
Beaucoup d'enfants vivant avec le VIH ont été infectés par leurs mères. Pour prévenir la transmission verticale les femmes doivent d'abord connaître leur statut sérologique VIH.L'objectif de cette étude était de déterminer la proportion de statut VIH inconnu à la naissance et d'identifier les facteurs associés.
C'est une étude transversale réalisée dans 10 structures sanitaires de Lubumbashi de Juin à Septembre 2010. La taille de l’échantillon était de 602 accouchées. Les statistiques descriptives usuelles et la régression logistique ont été utilisées.
Parmi les accouchées, 52,5% ignoraient leur statut sérologique. Parmi elles, 62,9% accepteraient de faire le test VIH à la maternité. La proportion des femmes avec un statut sérologique VIH inconnu était significativement plus élevée chez celles qui n'avaient pas suivi de CPN (Odds Ratio ajusté (ORa) = 5,8; Intervalle de Confiance (IC) 95%: 1,7-19,8); chez celles qui avaient un bas niveau d'instruction (ORa = 1,5; IC 95%: 1,1-2,1) et chez celles qui ne savaient pas que la transmission verticale du VIH pouvaient se faire au moment de l'accouchement (ORa = 1,5; IC 95%: 1,0-2,4).
La proportion de femmes qui accouchent sans connaître leur statut sérologique au VIH est encore importante, malgré le fait que le dépistage du VIH soit proposé lors des CPN. Dans les zones à haute séroprévalence de VIH, aucune femme ne devrait accoucher sans être dépistée au VIH. Ce serait une opportunité manquée.
PMCID: PMC3415046  PMID: 22891083
VIH; Prévention de la transmission mère-enfant; statut; Congo
23.  Naturalization of immigrants and perinatal mortality 
Background: Differences in neonatal mortality among immigrants have been documented in Belgium and elsewhere, and these disparities are poorly understood. Our objective was to compare perinatal mortality rates in immigrant mothers according to citizenship status. Methods: This was a population-based study using 2008 data from the Belgian birth register data pertaining to regions of Brussels and Wallonia. Odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) for perinatal mortality according to naturalization status were calculated by logistic regression analyses adjusting for parents’ medical and social characteristics. Results: Four hundred and thirty-seven perinatal deaths were registered among 60 881 births (7.2‰). Perinatal mortality rate varied according to the origin of the mother and her naturalization status: among immigrants, non-naturalized immigrants had a higher incidence of perinatal mortality (10.3‰) than their naturalized counterparts (6.1‰) with an adjusted OR of 2.2, 95% CI (1.1–4.5). Conclusion: In a country with a high frequency of naturalization, and universal access to health care, naturalized immigrant mothers experience less perinatal mortality than their not naturalized counterparts.
PMCID: PMC3610335  PMID: 22490473
24.  Use of oxytocin during early stages of labor and its effect on active management of third stage of labor 
To evaluate whether the use of oxytocin during first and second stages of labor is associated with higher incidence of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) in pregnant women who received active management of third stage of labor (AMTSL).
Study design
A secondary data analysis from vaginal deliveries in a hospital-based cohort study from 24 maternities in South America. The primary outcomes analyzed were: moderate PPH (≥500ml of blood loss), severe PPH (≥1000ml of blood loss) and need of blood transfusion.
A total of 11,323 vaginal deliveries were included. The incidence of moderate and severe PPH was 10.8% and 1.86%, respectively. Overall, 36% received AMTSL. There was no association between induced/augmented labor and moderate PPH (p=0.753), severe PPH (p=0.273) and blood transfusion (p=0.603) in the population that received AMTSL.
AMTSL should be recommended regardless of whether pregnant women received or not oxytocin during the first and second stages of labor.
PMCID: PMC3057346  PMID: 21145034
Active management labor; augmentation; induction; oxytocin
25.  Lost opportunities for effective management of obstetric conditions to reduce maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity in Argentina and Uruguay 
To review the use of evidence-based practices in the care of mothers who died or had severe morbidity attending public hospitals in two Latin American countries.
This study is part of a multicenter intervention to increase the use of evidence-based obstetric practice. Data on maternal deaths and women admitted to intensive care units whose deliveries occurred in 24 hospitals in Argentina and Uruguay were analyzed. Primary outcomes were use rates of effective interventions to reduce maternal mortality (MM) and severe maternal morbidity (SMM).
A total of 106 women were included: 26 maternal deaths and 80 women with SMM. Some effective interventions for severe acute hemorrhage had a high use rate, such as blood transfusion (91%) and timely cesarean delivery (75%), while active management of the third stage of labor (25%) showed a lower rate. The overall use rate of effective interventions was 58% (95% CI, 49%–67%). This implies that 42% of the women did not receive one of the effective interventions to reduce MM and SMM.
This study shows a low use of effective interventions to reduce MM and SMM in public hospitals in Argentina and Uruguay. Dissemination and implementation of evidence-based practices must be guaranteed to effectively achieve progress on maternal health.
PMCID: PMC2918228  PMID: 20605151
Audit of clinical practice; Evidence-based medicine; Maternal mortality; Obstetric emergencies; Physician's practice patterns; Process evaluation (health care); Quality of Health Care; Utilization Review

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