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1.  Postpandemic Influenza A/H1N1pdm09 is still Causing Severe Perinatal Complications 
Although influenza A/H1N1pdm09 is not causing a pandemic anymore, we recently observed two critically ill pregnant women infected by this virus. We present these cases to illustrate the possible severe complications of an – at that moment – seasonal influenza in pregnancy. We discuss the epidemiological differences between the pandemic and post pandemic phase and try to explain the high virulence of influenza A/H1N1pdm09 -infections in pregnancy by discussing insights in immunology during pregnancy. We conclude that although influenza A/H1N1pdm09 is in the post pandemic phase, infection by this influenza virus still needs to be considered in pregnant women with progressive respiratory dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC4283922  PMID: 25574366
2.  Regional differences in severe postpartum hemorrhage: a nationwide comparative study of 1.6 million deliveries 
The incidence of severe postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is increasing. Regional variation may be attributed to variation in provision of care, and as such contribute to this increasing incidence. We assessed reasons for regional variation in severe PPH in the Netherlands.
We used the Netherlands Perinatal Registry and the Dutch Maternal Mortality Committee to study severe PPH incidences (defined as blood loss ≥ 1000 mL) across both regions and neighborhoods of cities among all deliveries between 2000 and 2008. We first calculated crude incidences. We then used logistic multilevel regression analyses, with hospital or midwife practice as second level to explore further reasons for the regional variation.
We analyzed 1599867 deliveries in which the incidence of severe PPH was 4.5%. Crude incidences of severe PPH varied with factor three between regions while between neighborhoods variation was even larger. We could not explain regional variation by maternal characteristics (age, parity, ethnicity, socioeconomic status), pregnancy characteristics (singleton, gestational age, birth weight, pre-eclampsia, perinatal death), medical interventions (induction of labor, mode of delivery, perineal laceration, placental removal) and health care setting.
In a nationwide study in The Netherlands, we observed wide practice variation in PPH. This variation could not be explained by maternal characteristics, pregnancy characteristics, medical interventions or health care setting. Regional variation is either unavoidable or subsequent to regional variation of a yet unregistered variable.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0473-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4341225  PMID: 25885884
Cohort study; Postpartum hemorrhage; Geographic distribution; Epidemiology; Maternal mortality
3.  Incidence and Predictors of Maternal Cardiovascular Mortality and Severe Morbidity in the Netherlands: A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56494.
To assess incidence and possible risk factors of severe maternal morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease in the Netherlands.
A prospective population based cohort study.
All 98 maternity units in the Netherlands.
All women delivering in the Netherlands between August 2004 and August 2006 (n = 371,021)
Cases of severe maternal morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease were prospectively collected during a two-year period in the Netherlands. Women with cardiovascular complications during pregnancy or postpartum who were admitted to the ward, intensive care or coronary care unit were included. Cardiovascular morbidity was defined as cardiomyopathy, valvular disease, ischaemic heart disease, arrhythmias or aortic dissection. All women delivering in the same period served as a reference cohort.
Main outcome measures
Incidence, case fatality rates and possible risk factors.
Incidence of severe maternal morbidity due to cardiovascular disease was 2.3 per 10,000 deliveries (84/358,874). Maternal mortality rate from cardiovascular disease was 3.0 per 100,000 deliveries (11/358,874). Case fatality rate in women with severe maternal morbidity due to cardiovascular disease was 13% (11/84). Case fatality rate was highest in aortic dissection (83%). Pre-existing acquired or congenital heart disease was identified in 34% of women. Thirty-one percent of women were of advanced maternal age (>35 years of age) and 5 percent above 40 years of age. Possible risk factors for cardiovascular morbidity were caesarean section (either resulting in or as a result of cardiovascular disease), multiple pregnancy, prior caesarean section, non-Western ethnicity and obesity.
In the Netherlands cardiovascular disease is a rare cause of severe maternal morbidity with an incidence of 2.3 per 10,000 deliveries and a high case fatality rate of 13%. Cardiovascular complications develop mostly in women not known with cardiac disease pre-pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3572972  PMID: 23457576
5.  Preventing preterm birth with progesterone: costs and effects of screening low risk women with a singleton pregnancy for short cervical length, the Triple P study 
Women with a short cervical length in mid-trimester pregnancy have a higher risk of preterm birth and therefore a higher rate of neonatal mortality and morbidity. Progesterone can potentially decrease the number of preterm births and lower neonatal mortality and morbidity. Previous studies showed good results of progesterone in women with either a history of preterm birth or a short cervix. However, it is unknown whether screening for a short cervix and subsequent treatment in mid trimester pregnancy is effective in low risk women.
We plan a combined screen and treat study among women with a singleton pregnancy without a previous preterm birth. In these women, we will measure cervical length at the standard anomaly scan performed between 18 and 22 weeks. Women with cervical length ≤ 30 mm at two independent measurements will be randomly allocated to receive either vaginal progesterone tablets or placebo between 22 and 34 weeks. The primary outcome of this trial is adverse neonatal condition, defined as a composite outcome of neonatal mortality and severe morbidity. Secondary outcomes are time to delivery, preterm birth rate before 32, 34 and 37 weeks, days of admission in neonatal intensive care unit, maternal morbidity, maternal admission days for preterm labour and costs. We will assess growth, physical condition and neurodevelopmental outcome of the children at two years of age.
This study will provide evidence for the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of screening for short cervical length at the 18-22 weeks and subsequent progesterone treatment among low risk women.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR207
PMCID: PMC3214137  PMID: 22023876
6.  Well being of obstetric patients on minimal blood transfusions (WOMB trial) 
Primary postpartum haemorrhage is an obstetrical emergency often causing acute anaemia that may require immediate red blood cell (RBC) transfusion. This anaemia results in symptoms such as fatigue, which may have major impact on the health-related quality of life. RBC transfusion is generally thought to alleviate these undesirable effects although it may cause transfusion reactions. Moreover, the postpartum haemoglobin level seems to influence fatigue only for a short period of time. At present, there are no strict transfusion criteria for this specific indication, resulting in a wide variation in postpartum policy of RBC transfusion in the Netherlands.
The WOMB trial is a multicentre randomised non-inferiority trial. Women with acute anaemia due to postpartum haemorrhage, 12-24 hours after delivery and not initially treated with RBC transfusion, are eligible for randomisation. Patients with severe physical complaints are excluded. Patients are randomised for either RBC transfusion or expectant management. Health related quality of life (HRQoL) will be assessed at inclusion, at three days and one, three and six weeks postpartum with three validated measures (Multi-dimensional Fatigue Inventory, ShortForm-36, EuroQol-5D). Primary outcome of the study is physical fatigue three days postpartum. Secondary outcome measures are general and mental fatigue scores and generic health related quality of life scores, the number of RBC transfusions, length of hospital stay, complications and health-care costs.
The primary analysis will be by intention-to-treat. The various longitudinal scores will be evaluated using Repeated Measurements ANOVA. A costs benefit analysis will also be performed. The power calculation is based on the exclusion of a difference in means of 1.3 points or greater in favour of RBC transfusion arm regarding physical fatigue subscale. With missing data not exceeding 20%, 250 patients per arm have to be randomised (one-sided alpha = 0.025, power = 80%).
This study will provide evidence for a guideline regarding RBC transfusion in the postpartum patient suffering from acute anaemia. Equivalence in fatigue score, remaining HRQoL scores and physical complications between both groups is assumed, in which case an expectant management would be preferred to minimise transfusion reactions and costs.
Trial registration NCT00335023, Nederlands Trial Register NTR335
PMCID: PMC3022737  PMID: 21162725
7.  Cost-effectiveness of recurrence risk guided care versus care as usual in women who suffered from early-onset preeclampsia including HELLP syndrome in their previous pregnancy (the PreCare study) 
Preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome may have serious consequences for both mother and fetus. Women who have suffered from preeclampsia or the HELLP syndrome, have an increased risk of developing preeclampsia in a subsequent pregnancy. However, most women will develop no or only minor complications. In this study, we intend to determine cost-effectiveness of recurrence risk guided care versus care as usual in pregnant women with a history of early-onset preeclampsia.
We developed a prediction model to estimate the individual risk of recurrence of early-onset preeclampsia and the HELLP syndrome. In a before-after study, pregnant women with preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome in their previous pregnancy receiving care as usual (before introduction of the prediction model) will be compared with women receiving recurrence risk guided care (after introduction of the prediction model).
Eligible and pregnant women will be recruited at six university hospitals and seven large non-university tertiary referral hospitals in the Netherlands.
The primary outcome measure is the recurrence of early-onset preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome in women allocated to the regular monitoring group.
For the economic evaluation, a modelling approach will be used. Costs and effects of recurrence risk guided care with those of care as usual will be compared by means of a decision model. Two incremental cost-effectiveness ratios will be calculated: 1) cost per Quality Adjusted Life Year (mother unit of analysis) and 2) cost per live born child (child unit of analysis).
This is, to our knowledge, the first study that evaluates prospectively the efficacy of a multivariable prediction rule for recurrent hypertensive disease in pregnancy. Results of this study could either be integrated into the current guideline on Hypertensive Disorders in Pregnancy, or be used to develop a new guideline.
PMCID: PMC2966448  PMID: 20932350
8.  IMproving PArticipation of patients in Clinical Trials - rationale and design of IMPACT 
One of the most commonly reported problems of randomised trials is that recruitment is usually slower than expected. Trials will cost more and take longer, thus delaying the use of the results in clinical practice, and incomplete samples imply decreased statistical power and usefulness of its results. We aim to identify barriers and facilitators for successful patient recruitment at the level of the patient, the doctor and the hospital organization as well as the organization and design of trials over a broad range of studies.
We will perform two cohort studies and a case-control study in the Netherlands. The first cohort study will report on a series of multicenter trials performed in a nationwide network of clinical trials in obstetrics and gynaecology. A questionnaire will be sent to all clinicians recruiting for these trials to identify determinants - aggregated at centre level - for the recruitment rate. In a case control-study nested in this cohort we will interview patients who refused or consented participation to identify factors associated with patients' consent or refusal. In a second cohort study, we will study trials that were prospectively registered in the Netherlands Trial Register. Using a questionnaire survey we will assess whether issues on hospital organization, trial organization, planning and trial design were associated with successful recruitment, i.e. 80% of the predefined number of patients recruited within the planned time.
This study will provide insight in barriers and facilitators for successful patient recruitment in trials. The results will be used to provide recommendations and a checklist for individual trialists to identify potential pitfalls for recruitment and judge the feasibility prior to the start of the study. Identified barriers and motivators coupled to evidence-based interventions can improve recruitment of patients in clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC2955658  PMID: 20875119
9.  Pessaries in multiple pregnancy as a prevention of preterm birth: the ProTwin Trial 
Multiple pregnancies are at high risk for preterm birth, and therefore an important cause of infant mortality and morbidity. A pessary is a simple and potentially effective measure for the prevention of preterm birth. Small studies have indicated its effectiveness, but large studies with sufficient power on the subject are lacking. Despite this lack of evidence, the treatment is at present applied by some gynaecologists in The Netherlands.
We aim to investigate the hypothesis that prophylactic use of a cervical pessary will be effective in the prevention of preterm delivery and the neonatal mortality and morbidity resulting from preterm delivery in multiple pregnancy. We will evaluate the costs and effects of this intervention. At study entry, cervical length will be measured. Eligible women will be randomly allocated to receive either a cervical pessary or no intervention. The cervical pessary will be placed in situ at 16 to 20 weeks, and will stay in situ up to 36 weeks gestation or until delivery, whatever comes first.
The primary outcome is composite bad neonatal condition (perinatal death or severe morbidity). Secondary outcome measures are time to delivery, preterm birth rate before 32 and 37 weeks, days of admission in neonatal intensive care unit, maternal morbidity, maternal admission days for preterm labour and costs. We need to include 660 women to indicate a reduction in bad neonatal outcome from 7.2% without to 3.9% with a cervical pessary, using a two-sided test with an alpha of 0.05 and a power of 0.80.
This trial will provide evidence on whether a cervical pessary will decrease the incidence of early preterm birth and its concomitant bad neonatal outcome in multiple pregnancies.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials: NTR 1858
PMCID: PMC2754434  PMID: 19761606
10.  Cost-effectiveness of fibronectin testing in a triage in women with threatened preterm labor: alleviation of pregnancy outcome by suspending tocolysis in early labor (APOSTEL-I trial) 
At present, women with threatened preterm labor before 32 weeks of gestation are, after transfer to a perinatal center, treated with tocolytics and corticosteroids. Many of these women are treated unnecessarily. Fibronectin is an accurate predictor for the occurrence of preterm birth among women with threatened preterm labor. We will assess whether triage of these women with fibronectin testing, cervical length or their combination is cost-effective.
We will investigate a prospective cohort of women referred to a perinatal centre for spontaneous threatened preterm labor between 24 and 34 weeks with intact membranes. All women will be tested for fibronectin and cervical length. Women with a cervical length <10 mm and women with a cervical length between 10-30 mm in combination with a positive fibronectin test will be treated with tocolytics according to local protocol. Women with a cervical length between 10-30 mm in combination with a negative fibronectin test will be randomised between treatment with nifedipine (intervention) and placebo (control) for 48 hours. Women with a cervical length > 30 mm will be managed according to local protocol. Corticosteroids may be given to all women at the discretion of the attending physician. Primary outcome measure will be delivery within 7 days. Secondary outcome measures will be neonatal morbidity and mortality, complications of tocolytics, costs and health related quality of life. The analysis will be according to the intention to treat principle. We anticipate the probability on preterm birth within 7 days in the group of women with a negative fibronectine test to be 5%. Two groups of 110 women will be needed to assure that in case of non-inferiority the difference in the proportion of preterm deliveries < 7 days will be within a prespecified boundary of 7.5% (one sided test, β 0.2, α 0.05). Data obtained from women with a positive and negative fibronectin tests in both the cohort study and the trial will be integrated in a cost-effectiveness analysis that will assess economic consequences of the use of fibronectin.
This study will provide evidence for the use of fibronectin testing as safe and cost-effective method in a triage for threatened preterm labor.
Trial registration
Nederlands Trial Register (NTR) number 1857, .
PMCID: PMC2752451  PMID: 19723320
11.  Adverse drug reactions to tocolytic treatment for preterm labour: prospective cohort study 
Objective To evaluate the incidence of serious maternal complications after the use of various tocolytic drugs for the treatment of preterm labour in routine clinical situations.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting 28 hospitals in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Participants 1920 consecutive women treated with tocolytics for threatened preterm labour.
Main outcome measures Maternal adverse events (those suspected of being causally related to treatment were considered adverse drug reactions) leading to cessation of treatment.
Results An independent panel evaluated the recorded adverse events, without knowledge of the type of tocolytic used. Of the 1920 women treated with tocolytics, 1327 received a single course of treatment (69.1%), 282 sequential courses (14.7%), and 311 combined courses (16.2%). Adverse drug reactions were categorised as serious or mild in 14 cases each. The overall incidence of serious adverse drug reaction was 0.7%. Compared with atosiban, the relative risk of an adverse drug reaction for single treatment with a β adrenoceptor agonist was 22.0 (95% confidence interval 3.6 to 138.0) and for single treatment with a calcium antagonist was 12 (1.9 to 69). Multiple drug tocolysis led to five serious adverse drug reactions (1.6%). Multiple gestation, preterm rupture of membranes, and comorbidity were not independent risk factors for adverse drug reactions.
Conclusions The use of β adrenoceptor agonists or multiple tocolytics for preventing preterm birth is associated with a high incidence of serious adverse drug reactions. Indometacin and atosiban were the only drugs not associated with serious adverse drug reactions. A direct comparison of the effectiveness of nifedipine and atosiban in postponing preterm delivery is needed.
PMCID: PMC2654772  PMID: 19264820
12.  Disproportionate Intrauterine Growth Intervention Trial At Term: DIGITAT 
Around 80% of intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) infants are born at term. They have an increase in perinatal mortality and morbidity including behavioral problems, minor developmental delay and spastic cerebral palsy. Management is controversial, in particular the decision whether to induce labour or await spontaneous delivery with strict fetal and maternal surveillance. We propose a randomised trial to compare effectiveness, costs and maternal quality of life for induction of labour versus expectant management in women with a suspected IUGR fetus at term.
The proposed trial is a multi-centre randomised study in pregnant women who are suspected on clinical grounds of having an IUGR child at a gestational age between 36+0 and 41+0 weeks. After informed consent women will be randomly allocated to either induction of labour or expectant management with maternal and fetal monitoring. Randomisation will be web-based. The primary outcome measure will be a composite neonatal morbidity and mortality. Secondary outcomes will be severe maternal morbidity, maternal quality of life and costs. Moreover, we aim to assess neurodevelopmental and neurobehavioral outcome at two years as assessed by a postal enquiry (Child Behavioral Check List-CBCL and Ages and Stages Questionnaire-ASQ). Analysis will be by intention to treat. Quality of life analysis and a preference study will also be performed in the same study population. Health technology assessment with an economic analysis is part of this so called Digitat trial (Disproportionate Intrauterine Growth Intervention Trial At Term). The study aims to include 325 patients per arm.
This trial will provide evidence for which strategy is superior in terms of neonatal and maternal morbidity and mortality, costs and maternal quality of life aspects. This will be the first randomised trial for IUGR at term.
Trial registration
Dutch Trial Register and ISRCTN-Register: ISRCTN10363217.
PMCID: PMC1933438  PMID: 17623077
13.  Progesterone for the prevention of preterm birth in women with multiple pregnancies: the AMPHIA trial 
15% of multiple pregnancies ends in a preterm delivery, which can lead to mortality and severe long term neonatal morbidity. At present, no generally accepted strategy for the prevention of preterm birth in multiple pregnancies exists. Prophylactic administration of 17-alpha hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17OHPC) has proven to be effective in the prevention of preterm birth in women with singleton pregnancies with a previous preterm delivery. At present, there are no data on the effectiveness of progesterone in the prevention of preterm birth in multiple pregnancies.
We aim to investigate the hypothesis that 17OHPC will reduce the incidence of the composite neonatal morbidity of neonates by reducing the early preterm birth rate in multiple pregnancies. Women with a multiple pregnancy at a gestational age between 15 and 20 weeks of gestation will be entered in a placebo-controlled, double blinded randomised study comparing weekly 250 mg 17OHPC intramuscular injections from 16–20 weeks up to 36 weeks of gestation versus placebo. At study entry, cervical length will be measured. The primary outcome is composite bad neonatal condition (perinatal death or severe morbidity). Secondary outcome measures are time to delivery, preterm birth rate before 32 and 37 weeks, days of admission in neonatal intensive care unit, maternal morbidity, maternal admission days for preterm labour and costs. We need to include 660 women to indicate a reduction in bad neonatal outcome from 15% to 8%. Analysis will be by intention to treat. We will also analyse whether the treatment effect is dependent on cervical length.
This trial will provide evidence as to whether or not 17OHPC-treatment is an effective means of preventing bad neonatal outcome due to preterm birth in multiple pregnancies.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN40512715
PMCID: PMC1914085  PMID: 17578562

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