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1.  Musculoskeletal sequelae in patients with obstetric fistula – a case–control study 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:136.
Obstetric fistula is essentially a result of pelvic injury caused by prolonged obstructed labour. Foot drop and walking difficulties in some of these women signify that the injury may extend beyond the loss of tissue that led to the fistula. However, these aspects of the pelvic injury are scarcely addressed in the literature. Here we specifically aimed at assessing musculoskeletal function in women with obstetric fistula to appreciate the extent of the sequelae of their pelvic injury.
This case–control study compared 70 patients with obstetric fistula with 100 controls matched for age and years since delivery. The following was recorded: height, weight, past and present walking difficulties, pain, muscle strength and joint range of motion, circumference and reflexes. Differences between groups were analysed using independent sample t-test and chi-square test for independence.
A history of leg pain was more common among cases compared to controls, 20% versus 7% (p = 0.02), and 29% of the cases had difficulties walking following the injuring delivery compared to none of the controls (p ≤ 0.001). Of these, four women reported spontaneous recovery. Cases had 7° less range of motion in ankle dorsal flexion (95%CI: −8.1, −4.8), 8° less ankle plantar flexion (95%CI: −10.6, −6.5), 12° less knee flexion (95%CI: −14.1, −8.9), and 4° less knee extension (95%CI: 2.9, 5.0) compared to controls. Twelve % of the cases had lower ankle dorsal flexion strength (p = 0.009). Foot drop was present in three (4.3%) compared with none among controls. Women with fistula had 4° greater movement in hip extension (95%CI: −5.9, −3.1), 2° greater hip lateral rotation (95%CI: 0.7, 3.3) and 9° greater hip abduction (95%CI: 6.4, 10.7). Twelve % of the cases had stronger medial rotation in the hip (p = 0.04), 20% had stronger hip lateral rotation (p ≤ 0.001), 29% had stronger hip extension (p ≤ 0.001), and 15% had stronger hip abduction (p = 0.04) than controls.
Women with obstetric fistula commonly experienced walking difficulties after the delivery, had often leg pain and reduced function in the ankle and knee joints that may have been compensated by increased motion and strength in the hip.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12905-014-0136-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4228064  PMID: 25380616
Obstetric fistula; Musculoskeletal injuries; Muscle strength; Joint range of motion; Foot drop; Pain
2.  Stillbirths at a hospital in Nablus, 2010: a cohort study 
Global Health Action  2014;7:10.3402/gha.v7.25222.
Stillbirths are insufficiently reported in many countries. In Nablus, reporting has recently started; little is published in Palestine on the stillbirth rate and its risk factors.
To study the rate of stillbirths at Rafidia Hospital in 2010 and some of its risk factors.
A retrospective cohort design.
Data were collected from the delivery registry for all births and we analysed those with a gestation of 28 weeks or more at Rafidia Hospital. Stillbirth rates were estimated for available determinants.
In 2010, a total of 5,644 women gave birth to 5,782 babies, of whom 41 were stillbirths, that is, a stillbirth rate of 7.1/1,000 births (95% confidence interval 5.2–9.5). Premature babies had a higher risk of being a stillbirth. For small babies, the lower the birth weight the higher was the probability of being a stillbirth, and for babies weighing 4,500 g or more there was a higher risk of being stillborn. The risk of stillbirth was also higher among babies from mothers with high haemoglobin concentration, but low maternal haemoglobin was not associated with stillbirths.
The stillbirth rates at Rafidia hospital assessed in this study compares favourably with the reported national numbers, indicating a good reliability of the on-going registration. The rates were highest among premature births. Stillbirth was linked to low birth weight, foetal macrosomia, and maternal haemoconcentration. We believe the findings identify areas to address when designing antenatal care with the aim of improving perinatal mortality in the country.
PMCID: PMC4157139  PMID: 25196827
stillbirth; Palestine; West Bank; Nablus; maternal haemoglobin; birth weight; macrosomia; prematurity
3.  Factors associated with health facility childbirth in districts of Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia: a population based survey 
Maternal mortality continues to be a heavy burden in low and middle income countries where half of all deliveries take place in homes without skilled attendance. The study aimed to investigate the underlying and proximate determinants of health facility childbirth in rural and urban areas of three districts in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.
A population-based survey was conducted in 2007 as part of the ‘REsponse to ACcountable priority setting for Trust in health systems’ (REACT) project. Stratified random cluster sampling was used and the data included information on place of delivery and factors that might influence health care seeking behaviour. A total of 1800 women who had childbirth in the previous five years were analysed. The distal and proximate conceptual framework for analysing determinants of maternal mortality was modified for studying factors associated with place of delivery. Socioeconomic position was measured by employing a construct of educational attainment and wealth index. All analyses were stratified by district and urban–rural residence.
There were substantial inter-district differences in proportion of health facility childbirth. Facility childbirth was 15, 70 and 37% in the rural areas of Malindi, Mbarali and Kapiri Mposhi respectively, and 57, 75 and 77% in the urban areas of the districts respectively. However, striking socio-economic inequities were revealed regardless of district. Furthermore, there were indications that repeated exposure to ANC services and HIV related counselling and testing were positively associated with health facility deliveries. Perceived distance was negatively associated with facility childbirth in rural areas of Malindi and urban areas of Kapiri Mposhi.
Strong socio-economic inequities in the likelihood of facility childbirths were revealed in all the districts added to geographic inequities in two of the three districts. This strongly suggests an urgent need to strengthen services targeting disadvantaged and remote populations. The finding of a positive association between HIV counselling/testing and odds in favor of giving birth at a health facility suggests potential positive effects can be achieved by strengthening integrated approaches in maternal health service delivery.
PMCID: PMC4094404  PMID: 24996456
Health facility childbirth; Home deliveries; Socioeconomic position; Inequity; Africa; Kenya; Tanzania; Zambia
4.  WHO multicentre study for the development of growth standards from fetal life to childhood: the fetal component 
In 2006 WHO presented the infant and child growth charts suggested for universal application. However, major determinants for perinatal outcomes and postnatal growth are laid down during antenatal development. Accordingly, monitoring fetal growth in utero by ultrasonography is important both for clinical and scientific reasons. The currently used fetal growth references are derived mainly from North American and European population and may be inappropriate for international use, given possible variances in the growth rates of fetuses from different ethnic population groups. WHO has, therefore, made it a high priority to establish charts of optimal fetal growth that can be recommended worldwide.
This is a multi-national study for the development of fetal growth standards for international application by assessing fetal growth in populations of different ethnic and geographic backgrounds. The study will select pregnant women of high-middle socioeconomic status with no obvious environmental constraints on growth (adequate nutritional status, non-smoking), and normal pregnancy history with no complications likely to affect fetal growth. The study will be conducted in centres from ten developing and industrialized countries: Argentina, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Norway, and Thailand. At each centre, 140 pregnant women will be recruited between 8 + 0 and 12 + 6 weeks of gestation. Subsequently, visits for fetal biometry will be scheduled at 14, 18, 24, 28, 32, 36, and 40 weeks (+/− 1 week) to be performed by trained ultrasonographers.
The main outcome of the proposed study will be the development of fetal growth standards (either global or population specific) for international applications.
The data from this study will be incorporated into obstetric practice and national health policies at country level in coordination with the activities presently conducted by WHO to implement the use of the Child Growth Standards.
PMCID: PMC4014086  PMID: 24886101
Fetal growth; Child development; Ultrasound; Growth standards
5.  Prevalence, Risk Factors and Outcomes of Velamentous and Marginal Cord Insertions: A Population-Based Study of 634,741 Pregnancies 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70380.
To determine the prevalence of, and risk factors for anomalous insertions of the umbilical cord, and the risk for adverse outcomes of these pregnancies.
Population-based registry study.
Medical Birth Registry of Norway 1999–2009.
All births (gestational age >16 weeks to <45 weeks) in Norway (623,478 singletons and 11,263 pairs of twins).
Descriptive statistics and odds ratios (ORs) for risk factors and adverse outcomes based on logistic regressions adjusted for confounders.
Main outcome measures
Velamentous or marginal cord insertion. Abruption of the placenta, placenta praevia, pre-eclampsia, preterm birth, operative delivery, low Apgar score, transferral to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), malformations, birthweight, and perinatal death.
The prevalence of abnormal cord insertion was 7.8% (1.5% velamentous, 6.3% marginal) in singleton pregnancies and 16.9% (6% velamentous, 10.9% marginal) in twins. The two conditions shared risk factors; twin gestation and pregnancies conceived with the aid of assisted reproductive technology were the most important, while bleeding in pregnancy, advanced maternal age, maternal chronic disease, female foetus and previous pregnancy with anomalous cord insertion were other risk factors. Velamentous and marginal insertion was associated with an increased risk of adverse outcomes such as placenta praevia (OR = 3.7, (95% CI = 3.1–4.6)), and placental abruption (OR = 2.6, (95% CI = 2.1–3.2)). The risk of pre-eclampsia, preterm birth and delivery by acute caesarean was doubled, as was the risk of low Apgar score, transferral to NICU, low birthweight and malformations. For velamentous insertion the risk of perinatal death at term was tripled, OR = 3.3 (95% CI = 2.5–4.3).
The prevalence of velamentous and marginal insertions of the umbilical cord was 7.8% in singletons and 16.9% in twin gestations, with marginal insertion being more common than velamentous. The conditions were associated with common risk factors and an increased risk of adverse perinatal outcomes; these risks were greater for velamentous than for marginal insertion.
PMCID: PMC3728211  PMID: 23936197
6.  Fetal Liver Blood Flow Distribution: Role in Human Developmental Strategy to Prioritize Fat Deposition versus Brain Development 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e41759.
Among primates, human neonates have the largest brains but also the highest proportion of body fat. If placental nutrient supply is limited, the fetus faces a dilemma: should resources be allocated to brain growth, or to fat deposition for use as a potential postnatal energy reserve? We hypothesised that resolving this dilemma operates at the level of umbilical blood distribution entering the fetal liver. In 381 uncomplicated pregnancies in third trimester, we measured blood flow perfusing the fetal liver, or bypassing it via the ductus venosus to supply the brain and heart using ultrasound techniques. Across the range of fetal growth and independent of the mother's adiposity and parity, greater liver blood flow was associated with greater offspring fat mass measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, both in the infant at birth (r = 0.43, P<0.001) and at age 4 years (r = 0.16, P = 0.02). In contrast, smaller placentas less able to meet fetal demand for essential nutrients were associated with a brain-sparing flow pattern (r = 0.17, p = 0.02). This flow pattern was also associated with a higher degree of shunting through ductus venosus (P = 0.04). We propose that humans evolved a developmental strategy to prioritize nutrient allocation for prenatal fat deposition when the supply of conditionally essential nutrients requiring hepatic inter-conversion is limited, switching resource allocation to favour the brain if the supply of essential nutrients is limited. Facilitated placental transfer mechanisms for glucose and other nutrients evolved in environments less affluent than those now prevalent in developed populations, and we propose that in circumstances of maternal adiposity and nutrient excess these mechanisms now also lead to prenatal fat deposition. Prenatal developmental influences play important roles in the human propensity to deposit fat.
PMCID: PMC3425554  PMID: 22927915
7.  Fetal age assessment based on 2nd trimester ultrasound in Africa and the effect of ethnicity 
The African population is composed of a variety of ethnic groups, which differ considerably from each other. Some studies suggest that ethnic variation may influence dating. The aim of the present study was to establish reference values for fetal age assessment in Cameroon using two different ethnic groups (Fulani and Kirdi).
This was a prospective cross sectional study of 200 healthy pregnant women from Cameroon. The participants had regular menstrual periods and singleton uncomplicated pregnancies, and were recruited after informed consent. The head circumference (HC), outer-outer biparietal diameter (BPDoo), outer-inner biparietal diameter and femur length (FL), also called femur diaphysis length, were measured using ultrasound at 12–22 weeks of gestation. Differences in demographic factors and fetal biometry between ethnic groups were assessed by t- and Chi-square tests.
Compared with Fulani women (N = 96), the Kirdi (N = 104) were 2 years older (p = 0.005), 3 cm taller (p = 0.001), 6 kg heavier (p < 0.0001), had a higher body mass index (BMI) (p = 0.001), but were not different with regard to parity. Ethnicity had no effect on BPDoo (p = 0.82), HC (p = 0.89) or FL (p = 00.24). Weight, height, maternal age and BMI had no effect on HC, BPDoo and FL (p = 0.2–0.58, 0.1–0.83, and 0.17–0.6, respectively).
When comparing with relevant European charts based on similar design and statistics, we found overlapping 95% CI for BPD (Norway & UK) and a 0–4 day difference for FL and HC.
Significant ethnic differences between mothers were not reflected in fetal biometry at second trimester. The results support the recommendation that ultrasound in practical health care can be used to assess gestational age in various populations with little risk of error due to ethnic variation.
PMCID: PMC2585556  PMID: 18973673
8.  Fetal size in the second trimester is associated with the duration of pregnancy, small fetuses having longer pregnancies 
Conventionally, the pregnancy duration is accepted to be 280–282 days. Fetuses determined by ultrasound biometry to be small in early pregnancy, have an increased risk of premature birth. We speculate that the higher rate of preterm delivery in such small fetuses represents a pathological outcome not applicable to physiological pregnancies. Here we test the hypothesis that in low-risk pregnancies fetal growth (expressed by fetal size in the second trimester) is itself a determinant for pregnancy duration with the slower growing fetuses having a longer pregnancy.
We analysed duration of gestation data for 541 women who had a spontaneous delivery having previously been recruited to a cross-sectional study of 650 low-risk pregnancies. All had a regular menses and a known date of their last menstrual period (LMP). Subjects were examined using ultrasound to determine fetal head circumference (HC), abdominal circumference (AC) and femur length (FL) at 10–24 weeks of gestation. Length of the pregnancy was calculated from LMP, and birth weights were noted. The effect of fetal size at 10–24 weeks of gestation on pregnancy duration was assessed also when adjusting for the difference between LMP and ultrasound based fetal age.
Small fetuses (z-score -2.5) at second trimester ultrasound scan had lower birth weights (p < 0.0001) and longer duration of pregnancy (p < 0.0001) than large fetuses (z-score +2.5): 289.6 days (95%CI 288.0 to 291.1) vs. 276.1 (95%CI 273.6 to 278.4) for HC, 289.0 days (95%CI 287.4 to 290.6) vs. 276.9 days (95%CI 274.4 to 279.2) for AC and 288.3 vs. 277.9 days (95%CI 275.6 to 280.1) for FL. Controlling for the difference between LMP and ultrasound dating (using HC measurement), the effect of fetal size on pregnancy length was reduced to half but was still present for AC and FL (comparing z-score -2.5 with +2.5, 286.6 vs. 280.2 days, p = 0.004, and 286.0 vs. 280.9, p = 0.008, respectively).
Fetal size in the second trimester is a determinant of birth weight and pregnancy duration, small fetuses having lower birth weights and longer pregnancies (up to 13 days compared with large fetuses). Our results support a concept of individually assigned pregnancy duration according to growth rates rather than imposing a standard of 280–282 days on all pregnancies.
PMCID: PMC2492839  PMID: 18627638

Results 1-8 (8)