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1.  BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth reviewer acknowledgement 2014 
Contributing reviewers
The editors of BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 14 (2014).
PMCID: PMC4331299
2.  Prioritizing investments in innovations to protect women from the leading causes of maternal death 
PATH, an international nonprofit organization, assessed nearly 40 technologies for their potential to reduce maternal mortality from postpartum hemorrhage and preeclampsia and eclampsia in low-resource settings. The evaluation used a new Excel-based prioritization tool covering 22 criteria developed by PATH, the Maternal and Neonatal Directed Assessment of Technology (MANDATE) model, and consultations with experts. It identified five innovations with especially high potential: technologies to improve use of oxytocin, a uterine balloon tamponade, simplified dosing of magnesium sulfate, an improved proteinuria test, and better blood pressure measurement devices. Investments are needed to realize the potential of these technologies to reduce mortality.
PMCID: PMC3890511  PMID: 24405972
Maternal health; Postpartum hemorrhage; Preeclampsia; Eclampsia; Technology assessment; Oxytocin; Magnesium sulfate; Uterine balloon tamponade; Blood pressure measurement; Proteinuria test
3.  Understanding childbirth practices as an organizational cultural phenomenon: a conceptual framework 
Understanding the main values and beliefs that might promote humanized birth practices in the specialized hospitals requires articulating the theoretical knowledge of the social and cultural characteristics of the childbirth field and the relations between these and the institution. This paper aims to provide a conceptual framework allowing examination of childbirth practices through the lens of an organizational culture theory. A literature review performed to extrapolate the social and cultural factors contribute to birth practices and the factors likely overlap and mutually reinforce one another, instead of complying with the organizational culture of the birth place. The proposed conceptual framework in this paper examined childbirth patterns as an organizational cultural phenomenon in a highly specialized hospital, in Montreal, Canada. Allaire and Firsirotu’s organizational culture theory served as a guide in the development of the framework. We discussed the application of our conceptual model in understanding the influences of organizational culture components in the humanization of birth practices in the highly specialized hospitals and explained how these components configure both the birth practice and women’s choice in highly specialized hospitals. The proposed framework can be used as a tool for understanding the barriers and facilitating factors encountered birth practices in specialized hospitals.
PMCID: PMC3835545  PMID: 24215446
Humanization of childbirth; Organizational culture; Social birth; Conceptual framework
4.  Clean birth kits to improve birth practices: development and testing of a country level decision support tool 
Clean birth practices can prevent sepsis, one of the leading causes of both maternal and newborn mortality. Evidence suggests that clean birth kits (CBKs), as part of package that includes education, are associated with a reduction in newborn mortality, omphalitis, and puerperal sepsis. However, questions remain about how best to approach the introduction of CBKs in country. We set out to develop a practical decision support tool for programme managers of public health systems who are considering the potential role of CBKs in their strategy for care at birth.
Development and testing of the decision support tool was a three-stage process involving an international expert group and country level testing. Stage 1, the development of the tool was undertaken by the Birth Kit Working Group and involved a review of the evidence, a consensus meeting, drafting of the proposed tool and expert review. In Stage 2 the tool was tested with users through interviews (9) and a focus group, with federal and provincial level decision makers in Pakistan. In Stage 3 the findings from the country level testing were reviewed by the expert group.
The decision support tool comprised three separate algorithms to guide the policy maker or programme manager through the specific steps required in making the country level decision about whether to use CBKs. The algorithms were supported by a series of questions (that could be administered by interview, focus group or questionnaire) to help the decision maker identify the information needed. The country level testing revealed that the decision support tool was easy to follow and helpful in making decisions about the potential role of CBKs. Minor modifications were made and the final algorithms are presented.
Testing of the tool with users in Pakistan suggests that the tool facilitates discussion and aids decision making. However, testing in other countries is needed to determine whether these results can be replicated and to identify how the tool can be adapted to meet country specific needs.
PMCID: PMC3541163  PMID: 23253170
Clean birth practices; Birth kits; Decision support tool
5.  The difficulties of conducting maternal death reviews in Malawi 
Maternal death reviews is a tool widely recommended to improve the quality of obstetric care and reduce maternal mortality. Our aim was to explore the challenges encountered in the process of facility-based maternal death review in Malawi, and to suggest sustainable and logically sound solutions to these challenges.
SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of the process of maternal death review during a workshop in Malawi.
Strengths: Availability of data from case notes, support from hospital management, and having maternal death review forms. Weaknesses: fear of blame, lack of knowledge and skills to properly conduct death reviews, inadequate resources and missing documentation. Opportunities: technical assistance from expatriates, support from the Ministry of Health, national protocols and high maternal mortality which serves as motivation factor. Threats: Cultural practices, potential lawsuit, demotivation due to the high maternal mortality and poor planning at the district level. Solutions: proper documentation, conducting maternal death review in a blame-free manner, good leadership, motivation of staff, using guidelines, proper stock inventory and community involvement.
Challenges encountered during facility-based maternal death review are provider-related, administrative, client related and community related. Countries with similar socioeconomic profiles to Malawi will have similar 'pull-and-push' factors on the process of facility-based maternal death reviews, and therefore we will expect these countries to have similar potential solutions.
PMCID: PMC2546364  PMID: 18786267
6.  An integrated systems biology approach to the study of preterm birth using "-omic" technology - a guideline for research 
Preterm birth is the leading cause of neonatal mortality and perinatal morbidity. The etiology of preterm is multi-factorial and still unclear. As evidence increases for a genetic contribution to PTB, so does the need to explore genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics in its study. This review suggests research guidelines for the conduct of high throughput systems biology investigations into preterm birth with the expectation that this will facilitate the sharing of samples and data internationally through consortia, generating the power needed to study preterm birth using integrated "-omics" technologies. The issues to be addressed include: (1) integrated "-omics" approaches, (2) phenotyping, (3) sample collection, (4) data management-integrative databases, (5) international consortia and (6) translational feasibility. This manuscript is the product of discussions initiated by the "-Omics" Working Group at the Preterm Birth International Collaborative Meeting held at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland in April 2009.
PMCID: PMC3205030  PMID: 21992798
7.  The fetuses-at-risk approach: Clarification of semantic and conceptual misapprehension 
Although proponents of the fetuses-at-risk approach describe it as a causal model that resolves various conundrums, several areas of semantic and conceptual misapprehension remain. Differences in terminology include use of denominators such as 'ongoing pregnancies' and the need for an ad hoc 'correction factor' in order to calculate gestational age-specific rates. Further, there is conceptual disagreement regarding the proper candidates for neonatal death and related phenomena. Perhaps the most egregious misconception is the belief that rising rates of gestational age-specific perinatal mortality observed under the fetuses-at-risk model automatically imply the need for indiscriminate increases in iatrogenic preterm delivery.
The term 'fetuses at risk' addresses the plurality of candidates for stillbirth in a multi-fetal pregnancy, while the use of standard terminology such as 'cumulative incidence' and 'incidence density' harmonizes the language of perinatal epidemiology with that used in the general epidemiologic literature. On the conceptual side, it is necessary to integrate clinical insights regarding latent periods into models of neonatal morbidity and mortality. The contention that the fetuses-at-risk approach implies the need for indiscriminate iatrogenic preterm delivery is a non-sequitur (just as rising age-specific cancer death rates do not imply the need for routine chemotherapy and radiation for all middle aged people). Finally, the traditional and fetuses-at-risk models are better viewed in terms of function as prognostic (non-causal) and causal models, respectively.
A careful examination of terms and concepts helps situate the traditional perinatal and the fetuses-at-risk approaches within the broader context of non-causal and causal models within general epidemiology.
PMCID: PMC2292135  PMID: 18366767

Results 1-7 (7)