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1.  Global report on preterm birth and stillbirth (7 of 7): mobilizing resources to accelerate innovative solutions (Global Action Agenda) 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2010;10(Suppl 1):S7.
Background
Preterm birth and stillbirth are complex local and global health problems requiring an interdisciplinary approach and an international commitment. Stakeholders developed recommendations for a Global Action Agenda (GAA) at the 2009 International Conference on Prematurity and Stillbirth. The primary goal of this GAA is to forge a collaborative effort toward achieving common goals to prevent preterm birth and stillbirth, and to improve related maternal, newborn, and child health outcomes.
Conference participants
GAPPS co-convened this four-day conference with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, March of Dimes, PATH, Save the Children, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Participants included about 200 leading international researchers, policymakers, health care practitioners and philanthropists. A near-final draft of this report was sent three weeks in advance to help co-chairs and participants prepare for workgroup discussions.
Global Action Agenda
Twelve thematic workgroups, composed of interdisciplinary experts, made recommendations on short-, intermediate-, and long-term milestones, and success metrics. Recommendations are based on the following themes: (1) advance discovery of the magnitude, causes and innovative solutions; (2) promote development and delivery of low-cost, proven interventions; (3) improve advocacy efforts to increase awareness that preterm birth and stillbirth are leading contributors to the global health burden; (4) increase resources for research and implementation; and (5) consider ethical and social justice implications throughout all efforts.
Summary
The conference provided an unprecedented opportunity for maternal, newborn and child health stakeholders to create a collaborative strategy for addressing preterm birth and stillbirth globally. Participants and others have already completed or launched work on key milestones identified in the GAA. Updates will be provided at www.gapps.org.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-S1-S7
PMCID: PMC2841775  PMID: 20233388
2.  Global report on preterm birth and stillbirth (2 of 7): discovery science 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2010;10(Suppl 1):S2.
Background
Normal and abnormal processes of pregnancy and childbirth are poorly understood. This second article in a global report explains what is known about the etiologies of preterm births and stillbirths and identifies critical gaps in knowledge. Two important concepts emerge: the continuum of pregnancy, beginning at implantation and ending with uterine involution following birth; and the multifactorial etiologies of preterm birth and stillbirth. Improved tools and data will enable discovery scientists to identify causal pathways and cost-effective interventions.
Pregnancy and parturition continuum
The biological process of pregnancy and childbirth begins with implantation and, after birth, ends with the return of the uterus to its previous state. The majority of pregnancy is characterized by rapid uterine and fetal growth without contractions. Yet most research has addressed only uterine stimulation (labor) that accounts for <0.5% of pregnancy.
Etiologies
The etiologies of preterm birth and stillbirth differ by gestational age, genetics, and environmental factors. Approximately 30% of all preterm births are indicated for either maternal or fetal complications, such as maternal illness or fetal growth restriction. Commonly recognized pathways leading to preterm birth occur most often during the gestational ages indicated: (1) inflammation caused by infection (22-32 weeks); (2) decidual hemorrhage caused by uteroplacental thrombosis (early or late preterm birth); (3) stress (32-36 weeks); and (4) uterine overdistention, often caused by multiple fetuses (32-36 weeks). Other contributors include cervical insufficiency, smoking, and systemic infections. Many stillbirths have similar causes and mechanisms. About two-thirds of late fetal deaths occur during the antepartum period; the other third occur during childbirth. Intrapartum asphyxia is a leading cause of stillbirths in low- and middle-income countries.
Recommendations
Utilizing new systems biology tools, opportunities now exist for researchers to investigate various pathways important to normal and abnormal pregnancies. Improved access to quality data and biological specimens are critical to advancing discovery science. Phenotypes, standardized definitions, and uniform criteria for assessing preterm birth and stillbirth outcomes are other immediate research needs.
Conclusion
Preterm birth and stillbirth have multifactorial etiologies. More resources must be directed toward accelerating our understanding of these complex processes, and identifying upstream and cost-effective solutions that will improve these pregnancy outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-S1-S2
PMCID: PMC2841774  PMID: 20233383
3.  Global report on preterm birth and stillbirth (1 of 7): definitions, description of the burden and opportunities to improve data 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2010;10(Suppl 1):S1.
Introduction
This is the first of seven articles from a preterm birth and stillbirth report. Presented here is an overview of the burden, an assessment of the quality of current estimates, review of trends, and recommendations to improve data.
Preterm birth
Few countries have reliable national preterm birth prevalence data. Globally, an estimated 13 million babies are born before 37 completed weeks of gestation annually. Rates are generally highest in low- and middle-income countries, and increasing in some middle- and high-income countries, particularly the Americas. Preterm birth is the leading direct cause of neonatal death (27%); more than one million preterm newborns die annually. Preterm birth is also the dominant risk factor for neonatal mortality, particularly for deaths due to infections. Long-term impairment is an increasing issue.
Stillbirth
Stillbirths are currently not included in Millennium Development Goal tracking and remain invisible in global policies. For international comparisons, stillbirths include late fetal deaths weighing more than 1000g or occurring after 28 weeks gestation. Only about 2% of all stillbirths are counted through vital registration and global estimates are based on household surveys or modelling. Two global estimation exercises reached a similar estimate of around three million annually; 99% occur in low- and middle-income countries. One million stillbirths occur during birth. Global stillbirth cause-of-death estimates are impeded by multiple, complex classification systems.
Recommendations to improve data
(1) increase the capture and quality of pregnancy outcome data through household surveys, the main data source for countries with 75% of the global burden; (2) increase compliance with standard definitions of gestational age and stillbirth in routine data collection systems; (3) strengthen existing data collection mechanisms—especially vital registration and facility data—by instituting a standard death certificate for stillbirth and neonatal death linked to revised International Classification of Diseases coding; (4) validate a simple, standardized classification system for stillbirth cause-of-death; and (5) improve systems and tools to capture acute morbidity and long-term impairment outcomes following preterm birth.
Conclusion
Lack of adequate data hampers visibility, effective policies, and research. Immediate opportunities exist to improve data tracking and reduce the burden of preterm birth and stillbirth.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-S1-S1
PMCID: PMC2841772  PMID: 20233382

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