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1.  Counting every stillbirth and neonatal death through mortality audit to improve quality of care for every pregnant woman and her baby 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2015;15(Suppl 2):S9.
While there is widespread acknowledgment of the need for improved quality and quantity of information on births and deaths, there has been less movement towards systematically capturing and reviewing the causes and avoidable factors linked to deaths, in order to affect change. This is particularly true for stillbirths and neonatal deaths which can fall between different health care providers and departments. Maternal and perinatal mortality audit applies to two of the five objectives in the Every Newborn Action Plan but data on successful approaches to overcome bottlenecks to scaling up audit are lacking.
We reviewed the current evidence for facility-based perinatal mortality audit with a focus on low- and middle-income countries and assessed the status of mortality audit policy and implementation. Based on challenges identified in the literature, key challenges to completing the audit cycle and affecting change were identified across the WHO health system building blocks, along with solutions, in order to inform the process of scaling up this strategy with attention to quality.
Maternal death surveillance and review is moving rapidly with many countries enacting and implementing policies and with accountability beyond the single facility conducting the audits. While 51 priority countries report having a policy on maternal death notification in 2014, only 17 countries have a policy for reporting and reviewing stillbirths and neonatal deaths. The existing evidence demonstrates the potential for audit to improve birth outcomes, only if the audit cycle is completed. The primary challenges within the health system building blocks are in the area of leadership and health information. Examples of successful implementation exist from high income countries and select low- and middle-income countries provide valuable learning, especially on the need for leadership for effective audit systems and on the development and the use of clear guidelines and protocols in order to ensure that the audit cycle is completed.
Health workers have the power to change health care routines in daily practice, but this must be accompanied by concrete inputs at every level of the health system. The system requires data systems including consistent cause of death classification and use of best practice guidelines to monitor performance, as well as leaders to champion the process, especially to ensure a no-blame environment, and to access change agents at other levels to address larger, systemic challenges.
PMCID: PMC4577789  PMID: 26391558
Healthworker; medical audit; maternal; midwives; mortality; neonatal death; stillbirth; quality of care
2.  Regional perinatal mortality differences in the Netherlands; care is the question 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:102.
Perinatal mortality is an important indicator of health. European comparisons of perinatal mortality show an unfavourable position for the Netherlands. Our objective was to study regional variation in perinatal mortality within the Netherlands and to identify possible explanatory factors for the found differences.
Our study population comprised of all singleton births (904,003) derived from the Netherlands Perinatal Registry for the period 2000–2004. Perinatal mortality including stillbirth from 22+0 weeks gestation and early neonatal death (0–6 days) was our main outcome measure. Differences in perinatal mortality were calculated between 4 distinct geographical regions North-East-South-West. We tried to explain regional differences by adjustment for the demographic factors maternal age, parity and ethnicity and by socio-economic status and urbanisation degree using logistic modelling. In addition, regional differences in mode of delivery and risk selection were analysed as health care factors. Finally, perinatal mortality was analysed among five distinct clinical risk groups based on the mediating risk factors gestational age and congenital anomalies.
Overall perinatal mortality was 10.1 per 1,000 total births over the period 2000–2004. Perinatal mortality was elevated in the northern region (11.2 per 1,000 total births). Perinatal mortality in the eastern, western and southern region was 10.2, 10.1 and 9.6 per 1,000 total births respectively. Adjustment for demographic factors increased the perinatal mortality risk in the northern region (odds ratio 1.20, 95% CI 1.12–1.28, compared to reference western region), subsequent adjustment for socio-economic status and urbanisation explained a small part of the elevated risk (odds ratio 1.11, 95% CI 1.03–1.20). Risk group analysis showed that regional differences were absent among very preterm births (22+0 – 25+6 weeks gestation) and most prominent among births from 32+0 gestation weeks onwards and among children with severe congenital anomalies. Among term births (≥ 37+0 weeks) regional mortality differences were largest for births in women transferred from low to high risk during delivery.
Regional differences in perinatal mortality exist in the Netherlands. These differences could not be explained by demographic or socio-economic factors, however clinical risk group analysis showed indications for a role of health care factors.
PMCID: PMC2674436  PMID: 19366460
3.  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
4.  Classification of stillbirth 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2005;331(7527):1269-1270.
PMCID: PMC1289367  PMID: 16308396

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