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1.  Subsequent Pregnancy after Preterm Prelabor Rupture of Membranes before 27 Weeks' Gestation 
AJP Reports  2013;3(2):113-118.
Objective Midtrimester preterm prelabor rupture of membranes (PPROM) has a high rate of neonatal mortality and morbidity. The aim of this study was to study outcomes of subsequent pregnancies after a pregnancy with PPROM before 27 weeks' gestation.
Study Design Retrospective study of subsequent pregnancies of women who suffered PPROM before 27 weeks' gestation from 1994 to 2009. The main outcome measure was the risk of recurrence of PPROM before 27 weeks' gestation. The authors also studied preterm birth and pregnancy outcome in the subsequent pregnancy. Finally, they assessed associative factors for subsequent premature delivery.
Results They identified 307 patients, of whom 118 women had a subsequent pregnancy. Of 99 women with complete outcome data, 9 women (9%) had PPROM before 27 weeks' gestation in a subsequent pregnancy and 35 women (35%) had a preterm delivery. In 58 (59%) of pregnancies no major complications occurred. They found three associative factors for premature delivery in a subsequent pregnancy: negative vaginal culture for Group B streptococcus, increasing maternal age and early gestational age at PPROM in the index pregnancy.
Conclusions Women with PPROM before 27 weeks have a 9% recurrence risk of early PPROM and a risk of 35% of having a preterm delivery in a subsequent pregnancy.
doi:10.1055/s-0033-1353389
PMCID: PMC3799705  PMID: 24147248
preterm rupture of membranes; recurrence; preterm birth
2.  Induction of Labor versus Expectant Management in Women with Preterm Prelabor Rupture of Membranes between 34 and 37 Weeks: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(4):e1001208.
In a randomized controlled trial David van der Ham and colleagues investigate induction of labor versus expectant management for women with preterm prelabor rupture of membranes.
Background
At present, there is insufficient evidence to guide appropriate management of women with preterm prelabor rupture of membranes (PPROM) near term.
Methods and Findings
We conducted an open-label randomized controlled trial in 60 hospitals in The Netherlands, which included non-laboring women with >24 h of PPROM between 34+0 and 37+0 wk of gestation. Participants were randomly allocated in a 1∶1 ratio to induction of labor (IoL) or expectant management (EM) using block randomization. The main outcome was neonatal sepsis. Secondary outcomes included mode of delivery, respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), and chorioamnionitis. Patients and caregivers were not blinded to randomization status. We updated a prior meta-analysis on the effect of both interventions on neonatal sepsis, RDS, and cesarean section rate.
From 1 January 2007 to 9 September 2009, 776 patients in 60 hospitals were eligible for the study, of which 536 patients were randomized. Four patients were excluded after randomization. We allocated 266 women (268 neonates) to IoL and 266 women (270 neonates) to EM. Neonatal sepsis occurred in seven (2.6%) newborns of women in the IoL group and in 11 (4.1%) neonates in the EM group (relative risk [RR] 0.64; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.25 to 1.6). RDS was seen in 21 (7.8%, IoL) versus 17 neonates (6.3%, EM) (RR 1.3; 95% CI 0.67 to 2.3), and a cesarean section was performed in 36 (13%, IoL) versus 37 (14%, EM) women (RR 0.98; 95% CI 0.64 to 1.50). The risk for chorioamnionitis was reduced in the IoL group. No serious adverse events were reported.
Updating an existing meta-analysis with our trial results (the only eligible trial for the update) indicated RRs of 1.06 (95% CI 0.64 to 1.76) for neonatal sepsis (eight trials, 1,230 neonates) and 1.27 (95% CI 0.98 to 1.65) for cesarean section (eight trials, 1,222 women) for IoL compared with EM.
Conclusions
In women whose pregnancy is complicated by late PPROM, neither our trial nor the updated meta-analysis indicates that IoL substantially improves pregnancy outcomes compared with EM.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN29313500
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Most pregnancies last around 40 weeks, but in industrialized countries, 5%–10% of babies are born before 37 weeks of gestation (gestation is the period during which a baby develops in its mother's womb). Premature birth is a major cause of infant death in many developed countries, and preterm babies can also have short- and/or long-term health problems such as breathing problems, increased susceptibility to life-threatening infections, and learning and developmental disabilities. There are many reasons why some babies are born prematurely, but preterm prelabor rupture of the membranes (PPROM) accounts for 30%–40% of preterm deliveries. Inside the womb, the baby is held in a fluid-filled bag called the amniotic sac. The amniotic fluid cushions the baby, helps some of its organs develop, and protects both mother and baby from infection. The membranes that form the sac usually break at the start of labor (“water breaking”), but in PPROM, the membranes break before the baby is fully grown. PPROM increases the mother's risk of a womb infection called chorioamnionitis and the baby's risk of neonatal sepsis (blood infection), and can trigger early labor.
Why Was This Study Done?
There is currently no consensus on how to manage women whose membranes rupture between 34 and 37 weeks' gestation. Some guidelines recommend immediate induction of labor if PPROM occurs at or beyond 34 weeks' gestation. Others recommend that labor not be induced unless the mother develops signs of infection such as a high temperature or has not delivered her baby spontaneously by 37 weeks' gestation (expectant management). Before 34 weeks' gestation, expectant management is generally recommended. In this randomized controlled trial, the researchers compare the effects of induction of labor and of expectant management on the rate of neonatal sepsis (the proportion of babies that develop neonatal sepsis; the trial's primary outcome) and on secondary outcomes such as the rates of neonatal respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), cesarean section (surgical delivery), and chorioamnionitis in women with PPROM between 34 and 37 weeks' gestation. The researchers also undertake a meta-analysis of published trials on the effect of both interventions on pregnancy outcomes. A randomized controlled trial compares the effects of different interventions in groups of individuals chosen through the play of chance; meta-analysis is a statistical approach that combines the results of several trials.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In the PPROM Expectant Management versus Induction of Labor (PRROMEXIL) trial, 532 non-laboring women with PPROM between 34 and 37 weeks' gestation were randomly assigned to either immediate induction of labor or expectant management. Neonatal sepsis occurred in seven babies born to women in the induction of labor group and in 11 babies born to women in the expectant management group. This difference was not statistically significant. That is, it could have happened by chance. Similarly, although more babies born to women in the induction of labor group than in the expectant management group developed RDS (21 and 17 babies, respectively), this difference was not significant. Cesarean section rates were similar in both intervention groups, but the risk of chorioamnionitis was slightly reduced in the induction of labor group compared to the expectant management group. Finally, the researchers' meta-analysis (which included these new results) found no significant differences in the risk of neonatal sepsis, RDS, or cesarean section associated with the two interventions.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, compared to expectant management, induction of labor did not reduce the incidence of neonatal sepsis in pregnancies complicated by PPROM between 34 and 37 weeks' gestation. However, because fewer babies than expected born to the women in the expectant management group developed neonatal sepsis, this trial was underpowered. That is, too few women were enrolled in the trial to enable the detection of a small difference between the interventions in the neonatal sepsis rate. These findings also show that induction of labor did not substantially affect most of the secondary outcomes measured by the researchers. Given these results and those of their meta-analysis, the researchers conclude that, in women whose pregnancy is complicated by PPROM late in pregnancy, induction of labor does not substantially improve the outcome for either the woman or her baby compared to expectant management.
Additional Information
Please access these web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001208.
The March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, provides information on preterm birth (in English and Spanish); its News Moms Need blog contains a post on PPROM
Tommy's is a nonprofit organization that funds research and provides information on the causes and prevention of miscarriage, premature birth, and stillbirth
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines on the diagnosis, investigation, and management of PPROM are available (in English and Russian)
Information about the PPROMEXIL trial is available
Personal stories about PPROM are available on the Austprem web site, a non-profit organization that provides information about prematurity and support for parents of premature babies in Australia
MedlinePlus provides links to other information on premature babies (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001208
PMCID: PMC3335867  PMID: 22545024
3.  Gestational Age Patterns of Fetal and Neonatal Mortality in Europe: Results from the Euro-Peristat Project 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e24727.
Background
The first European Perinatal Health Report showed wide variability between European countries in fetal (2.6–9.1‰) and neonatal (1.6–5.7‰) mortality rates in 2004. We investigated gestational age patterns of fetal and neonatal mortality to improve our understanding of the differences between countries with low and high mortality.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Data on 29 countries/regions participating in the Euro-Peristat project were analyzed. Most European countries had no limits for the registration of live births, but substantial variations in limits for registration of stillbirths before 28 weeks of gestation existed. Country rankings changed markedly after excluding deaths most likely to be affected by registration differences (22–23 weeks for neonatal mortality and 22–27 weeks for fetal mortality). Countries with high fetal mortality ≥28 weeks had on average higher proportions of fetal deaths at and near term (≥37 weeks), while proportions of fetal deaths at earlier gestational ages (28–31 and 32–36 weeks) were higher in low fetal mortality countries. Countries with high neonatal mortality rates ≥24 weeks, all new member states of the European Union, had high gestational age-specific neonatal mortality rates for all gestational-age subgroups; they also had high fetal mortality, as well as high early and late neonatal mortality. In contrast, other countries with similar levels of neonatal mortality had varying levels of fetal mortality, and among these countries early and late neonatal mortality were negatively correlated.
Conclusions
For valid European comparisons, all countries should register births and deaths from at least 22 weeks of gestation and should be able to distinguish late terminations of pregnancy from stillbirths. After excluding deaths most likely to be influenced by existing registration differences, important variations in both levels and patterns of fetal and neonatal mortality rates were found. These disparities raise questions for future research about the effectiveness of medical policies and care in European countries.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024727
PMCID: PMC3217927  PMID: 22110575
4.  Cost Analysis of the Dutch Obstetric System: low-risk nulliparous women preferring home or short-stay hospital birth - a prospective non-randomised controlled study 
Background
In the Netherlands, pregnant women without medical complications can decide where they want to give birth, at home or in a short-stay hospital setting with a midwife. However, a decrease in the home birth rate during the last decennium may have raised the societal costs of giving birth. The objective of this study is to compare the societal costs of home births with those of births in a short-stay hospital setting.
Methods
This study is a cost analysis based on the findings of a multicenter prospective non-randomised study comparing two groups of nulliparous women with different preferences for where to give birth, at home or in a short-stay hospital setting. Data were collected using cost diaries, questionnaires and birth registration forms. Analysis of the data is divided into a base case analysis and a sensitivity analysis.
Results
In the group of home births, the total societal costs associated with giving birth at home were €3,695 (per birth), compared with €3,950 per birth in the group for short-stay hospital births. Statistically significant differences between both groups were found regarding the following cost categories 'Cost of contacts with health care professionals during delivery' (€138.38 vs. €87.94, -50 (2.5-97.5 percentile range (PR)-76;-25), p < 0.05), 'cost of maternity care at home' (€1,551.69 vs. €1,240.69, -311 (PR -485; -150), p < 0.05) and 'cost of hospitalisation mother' (€707.77 vs. 959.06, 251 (PR 69;433), p < 0.05). The highest costs are for hospitalisation (41% of all costs). Because there is a relatively high amount of (partly) missing data, a sensitivity analysis was performed, in which all missing data were included in the analysis by means of general mean substitution. In the sensitivity analysis, the total costs associated with home birth are €4,364 per birth, and €4,541 per birth for short-stay hospital births.
Conclusion
The total costs associated with pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum care are comparable for home birth and short-stay hospital birth. The most important differences in costs between the home birth group and the short-stay hospital birth group are associated with maternity care assistance, hospitalisation, and travelling costs.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-211
PMCID: PMC2784768  PMID: 19925673
5.  Induction of labour versus expectant management in women with preterm prelabour rupture of membranes between 34 and 37 weeks (the PPROMEXIL-trial) 
Background
Preterm prelabour rupture of the membranes (PPROM) is an important clinical problem and a dilemma for the gynaecologist. On the one hand, awaiting spontaneous labour increases the probability of infectious disease for both mother and child, whereas on the other hand induction of labour leads to preterm birth with an increase in neonatal morbidity (e.g., respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)) and a possible rise in the number of instrumental deliveries.
Methods/Design
We aim to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of immediate delivery after PPROM in near term gestation compared to expectant management. Pregnant women with preterm prelabour rupture of the membranes at a gestational age from 34+0 weeks until 37+0 weeks will be included in a multicentre prospective randomised controlled trial. We will compare early delivery with expectant monitoring.
The primary outcome of this study is neonatal sepsis. Secondary outcome measures are maternal morbidity (chorioamnionitis, puerperal sepsis) and neonatal disease, instrumental delivery rate, maternal quality of life, maternal preferences and costs. We anticipate that a reduction of neonatal infection from 7.5% to 2.5% after induction will outweigh an increase in RDS and additional costs due to admission of the child due to prematurity. Under these assumptions, we aim to randomly allocate 520 women to two groups of 260 women each. Analysis will be by intention to treat. Additionally a cost-effectiveness analysis will be performed to evaluate if the cost related to early delivery will outweigh those of expectant management. Long term outcomes will be evaluated using modelling.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence as to whether induction of labour after preterm prelabour rupture of membranes is an effective and cost-effective strategy to reduce the risk of neonatal sepsis.
Controlled clinical trial register
ISRCTN29313500
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-11
PMCID: PMC1934382  PMID: 17617892
6.  Significance of Gram's Stain in Rapid Intrapartum Screening for Maternal Carriership of Group B Streptococcus 
Objective: Group B streptococcus (GBS, Streptococcus agalactiae) is an important cause of neonatal sepsis. Prevention is possible by intrapartum screening for maternal GBS carriership and antimicrobial treatment of colonized women with risk factors during labor. The conflicting results of diagnostic performance are reported both for the newly developed rapid GBS antigen tests and Gram's stain.
Methods: The value of Gram's stain in GBS screening was investigated prospectively in 1,020 women. Intrapartum Gram's stains of the cervix from these women and of the introitus from 510 of them were compared with cultures of the cervix, introitus, and anorectum in a semiquantitative way.
Results: The sensitivities of the cervical and introital Gram's stains were 25% and 31%, respectively, and the specificities 99% and 98%, respectively. Higher sensitivities (52% and 44%, respectively) were found in heavily colonized parturients. No significant influence of rupture of the membranes was detected. There was a poor correlation between the number of gram-positive cocci in the Gram's stain and the growth density.
Conclusions: We do not recommend the routine use of the Gram's stain for intrapartum GBS detection because of both the limited sensitivity and positive predictive value.
doi:10.1155/S1064744995000421
PMCID: PMC2364427  PMID: 18476031
7.  SIMPLE: implementation of recommendations from international evidence-based guidelines on caesarean sections in the Netherlands. Protocol for a controlled before and after study 
Background
Caesarean section (CS) rates are rising worldwide. In the Netherlands, the most significant rise is observed in healthy women with a singleton in vertex position between 37 and 42 weeks gestation, whereas it is doubtful whether an improved outcome for the mother or her child was obtained. It can be hypothesized that evidence-based guidelines on CS are not implemented sufficiently.
Therefore, the present study has the following objectives: to develop quality indicators on the decision to perform a CS based on key recommendations from national and international guidelines; to use the quality indicators in order to gain insight into actual adherence of Dutch gynaecologists to guideline recommendations on the performance of a CS; to explore barriers and facilitators that have a direct effect on guideline application regarding CS; and to develop, execute, and evaluate a strategy in order to reduce the CS incidence for a similar neonatal outcome (based on the information gathered in the second and third objectives).
Methods
An independent expert panel of Dutch gynaecologists and midwives will develop a set of quality indicators on the decision to perform a CS. These indicators will be used to measure current care in 20 hospitals with a population of 1,000 women who delivered by CS, and a random selection of 1,000 women who delivered vaginally in the same period. Furthermore, by interviewing healthcare professionals and patients, the barriers and facilitators that may influence the decision to perform a CS will be measured. Based on the results, a tailor-made implementation strategy will be developed and tested in a controlled before-and-after study in 12 hospitals (six intervention, six control hospitals) with regard to effectiveness, experiences, and costs.
Discussion
This study will offer insight into the current CS care and into the hindering and facilitating factors influencing obstetrical policy on CS. Furthermore, it will allow definition of patient categories or situations in which a tailor-made implementation strategy will most likely be meaningful and cost effective, without negatively affecting the outcome for mother and child.
Trial registration
http://www.clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01261676
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-8-3
PMCID: PMC3547819  PMID: 23281646
8.  Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification versus karyotyping in prenatal diagnosis: the M.A.K.E. study 
Background
In the past 30 years karyotyping was the gold standard for prenatal diagnosis of chromosomal aberrations in the fetus. Traditional karyotyping (TKT) has a high accuracy and reliability. However, it is labor intensive, the results take 14–21 days, the costs are high and unwanted findings such as abnormalities with unknown clinical relevance are not uncommon. These disadvantages challenged the practice of karyotyping. Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) is a new molecular genetic technique in prenatal diagnosis. Previous preclinical evidence suggests equivalence of MLPA and traditional karyotyping (TKT) regarding test performance.
Methods/Design
The proposed study is a multicentre diagnostic substitute study among pregnant women, who choose to have amniocentesis for the indication advanced maternal age and/or increased risk following prenatal screening test. In all subjects, both MLPA and karyotyping will be performed on the amniotic fluid sample. The primary outcome is diagnostic accuracy. Secondary outcomes will be maternal quality of life, women's preferences and costs. Analysis will be intention to treat and per protocol analysis. Quality of life analysis will be carried out within the study population. The study aims to include 4500 women.
Discussion
The study results are expected to help decide whether MLPA can replace traditional karyotyping for 'low-risk' pregnancies in terms of diagnostic accuracy, quality of life and women's preferences. This will be the first clinical study to report on all relevant aspects of the potential replacement.
Trial Registration
The protocol is registered in the clinical trial register number ISRCTN47252164
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-18
PMCID: PMC2405770  PMID: 18492228
9.  A randomised clinical trial on cardiotocography plus fetal blood sampling versus cardiotocography plus ST-analysis of the fetal electrocardiogram (STAN®) for intrapartum monitoring 
Background
Cardiotocography (CTG) is worldwide the method for fetal surveillance during labour. However, CTG alone shows many false positive test results and without fetal blood sampling (FBS), it results in an increase in operative deliveries without improvement of fetal outcome. FBS requires additional expertise, is invasive and has often to be repeated during labour. Two clinical trials have shown that a combination of CTG and ST-analysis of the fetal electrocardiogram (ECG) reduces the rates of metabolic acidosis and instrumental delivery. However, in both trials FBS was still performed in the ST-analysis arm, and it is therefore still unknown if the observed results were indeed due to the ST-analysis or to the use of FBS in combination with ST-analysis.
Methods/Design
We aim to evaluate the effectiveness of non-invasive monitoring (CTG + ST-analysis) as compared to normal care (CTG + FBS), in a multicentre randomised clinical trial setting. Secondary aims are: 1) to judge whether ST-analysis of fetal electrocardiogram can significantly decrease frequency of performance of FBS or even replace it; 2) perform a cost analysis to establish the economic impact of the two treatment options.
Women in labour with a gestational age ≥ 36 weeks and an indication for CTG-monitoring can be included in the trial.
Eligible women will be randomised for fetal surveillance with CTG and, if necessary, FBS or CTG combined with ST-analysis of the fetal ECG.
The primary outcome of the study is the incidence of serious metabolic acidosis (defined as pH < 7.05 and Bdecf > 12 mmol/L in the umbilical cord artery). Secondary outcome measures are: instrumental delivery, neonatal outcome (Apgar score, admission to a neonatal ward), incidence of performance of FBS in both arms and cost-effectiveness of both monitoring strategies across hospitals.
The analysis will follow the intention to treat principle. The incidence of metabolic acidosis will be compared across both groups. Assuming a reduction of metabolic acidosis from 3.5% to 2.1 %, using a two-sided test with an alpha of 0.05 and a power of 0.80, in favour of CTG plus ST-analysis, about 5100 women have to be randomised. Furthermore, the cost-effectiveness of CTG and ST-analysis as compared to CTG and FBS will be studied.
Discussion
This study will provide data about the use of intrapartum ST-analysis with a strict protocol for performance of FBS to limit its incidence. We aim to clarify to what extent intrapartum ST-analysis can be used without the performance of FBS and in which cases FBS is still needed.
Trial Registration Number
ISRCTN95732366
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-13
PMCID: PMC1976105  PMID: 17655764

Results 1-9 (9)