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1.  Effects of socioeconomic position and clinical risk factors on spontaneous and iatrogenic preterm birth 
Background
The literature shows a variable and inconsistent relationship between socioeconomic position and preterm birth. We examined risk factors for spontaneous and iatrogenic preterm birth, with a focus on socioeconomic position and clinical risk factors, in order to explain the observed inconsistency.
Methods
We carried out a retrospective population-based cohort study of all singleton deliveries in Nova Scotia from 1988 to 2003. Data were obtained from the Nova Scotia Atlee Perinatal Database and the federal income tax T1 Family Files. Separate logistic models were used to quantify the association between socioeconomic position, clinical risk factors and spontaneous preterm birth and iatrogenic preterm birth.
Results
The study population included 132,714 singleton deliveries and the rate of preterm birth was 5.5%. Preterm birth rates were significantly higher among the women in the lowest (versus the highest) family income group for spontaneous (rate ratio 1.14, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.03, 1.25) but not iatrogenic preterm birth (rate ratio 0.95, 95% CI 0.75, 1.19). Adjustment for maternal characteristics attenuated the family income-spontaneous preterm birth relationship but strengthened the relationship with iatrogenic preterm birth. Clinical risk factors such as hypertension were differentially associated with spontaneous (rate ratio 3.92, 95% CI 3.47, 4.44) and iatrogenic preterm (rate ratio 14.1, 95% CI 11.4, 17.4) but factors such as diabetes mellitus were not (rate ratio 4.38, 95% CI 3.21, 5.99 for spontaneous and 4.02, 95% CI 2.07, 7.80 for iatrogenic preterm birth).
Conclusions
Socioeconomic position and clinical risk factors have different effects on spontaneous and iatrogenic preterm. Recent temporal increases in iatrogenic preterm birth appear to be responsible for the inconsistent relationship between socioeconomic position and preterm birth.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-117
PMCID: PMC3987165  PMID: 24670050
Spontaneous preterm birth; Iatrogenic preterm birth; Risk factors; Pregnancy complications; Socioeconomic status
2.  Magnitude of income-related disparities in adverse perinatal outcomes 
Background
To assess and compare multiple measurements of socioeconomic position (SEP) in order to determine the relationship with adverse perinatal outcomes across various contexts.
Methods
A birth registry, the Nova Scotia Atlee Perinatal Database, was confidentially linked to income tax and related information for the year in which delivery occurred. Multiple logistic regression was used to examine odds ratios between multiple indicators of SEP and multiple adverse perinatal outcomes in 117734 singleton births between 1988 and 2003. Models for after tax family income were also adjusted for neighborhood deprivation to gauge the relative magnitude of effects related to SEP at both levels. Effects of SEP were stratified by single- versus multiple-parent family composition, and by urban versus rural location of residence.
Results
The risk of small for gestational age and spontaneous preterm birth was higher across all the indicators of lower SEP, while risk for large for gestational age was lower across indicators of lower SEP. Higher risk of postneonatal death was demonstrated for several measures of lower SEP. Higher material deprivation in the neighborhood of residence was associated with increased risk for perinatal death, small for gestational age birth, and iatrogenic and spontaneous preterm birth. Family composition and urbanicity were shown to modify the association between income and some perinatal outcomes.
Conclusions
This study highlights the importance of understanding the definitions of SEP and the mechanisms that lead to the association between income and poor perinatal outcomes, and broadening the types of SEP measures used in some cases.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-96
PMCID: PMC3984719  PMID: 24589212
Perinatal; Socioeconomic position; Health inequalities; Neighborhood; Income
3.  Birth weight differences between preterm stillbirths and live births: analysis of population-based studies from the U.S. and Sweden 
Background
Many stillbirths show evidence of fetal growth restriction, and most occur at preterm gestational age. The objective of this study is to compare birth weights at preterm gestational ages between live births and stillbirths, and between those occurring before or during labour.
Methods
Based on singleton births from the United States (U.S.) 2003–2005 (n=902,491) and Sweden 1992–2001 (n=946,343), we compared birth weights between singleton live births and stillbirths at 24–36 completed weeks of gestation from the U.S. and at 28–42 completed weeks from Sweden.
Results
In both the U.S. and Sweden, stillbirth weight-for-gestational-age z-scores were at least one standard deviation lower than live birth z-scores at all preterm gestational ages (GA). In Sweden, no birth weight difference was observed between antepartum and intrapartum stillbirths at preterm GAs, whereas birth weights among intrapartum stillbirths were similar to those among live births at 37–42 weeks.
Conclusions
Birth weights observed at preterm gestation are abnormal, but preterm stillbirths appear to be more growth-restricted than preterm live birth. Similar birth weights among ante- and intrapartum preterm stillbirths suggest serious fetal compromise before the onset of labor.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-119
PMCID: PMC3514233  PMID: 23110432
Stillbirth; Preterm birth; Fetal growth; Intrauterine growth restriction
4.  Trends in postpartum hemorrhage from 2000 to 2009: a population-based study 
Background
Postpartum hemorrhage, a major cause of maternal death and severe maternal morbidity, increased in frequency in Canada between 1991 and 2004. We carried out a study to describe the epidemiology of postpartum hemorrhage in British Columbia, Canada, between 2000 and 2009.
Methods
The study population included all women residents of British Columbia who delivered between 2000 and 2009. Data on postpartum hemorrhage by subtypes and severity were obtained from the British Columbia Perinatal Data Registry. Among women with postpartum hemorrhage, severe cases were identified by the use of blood transfusions or procedures to control bleeding. Rates of postpartum hemorrhage and changes over time were assessed using rates, rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Results
The rate of postpartum hemorrhage increased by 27% (95% CI 21-34%) between 2000 and 2009 (from 6.3% to 8.0%), while atonic postpartum hemorrhage rates increased by 33% (95% CI 26-41%) from 4.8% to 6.4%. Atonic postpartum hemorrhage with blood transfusion increased from 17.8 to 25.5 per 10,000 deliveries from 2000 to 2009 and atonic postpartum hemorrhage with either suturing of the uterus, ligation of pelvic vessels or embolization increased from 1.8 to 5.6 per 10,000 deliveries from 2001 to 2009. The increase in atonic postpartum hemorrhage was most evident between 2006 and 2009 and occurred across regions, hospitals and various maternal, fetal and obstetric characteristics.
Conclusions
Atonic postpartum hemorrhage and severe atonic postpartum hemorrhage increased in British Columbia between 2000 and 2009. Further research is required to identify the cause of the increase.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-108
PMCID: PMC3534600  PMID: 23057683
5.  Temporal trends in the frequency of twins and higher-order multiple births in Canada and the United States 
Background
The dramatic increase in multiple births is an important public health issue, since such births have elevated risks for adverse perinatal outcomes. Our objective was to explore the most recent temporal trends in rates of multiple births in Canada and the United States.
Methods
Live birth data from Canada (excluding Ontario) and the United States from 1991-2009 were used to calculate rates of twins, and triplet and higher-order multiples (triplet+). Temporal trends were assessed using tests for linear trend and absolute and relative changes in rates.
Results
Twin live births in the United States increased from 23.1 in 1991 to 32.2 per 1,000 live births in 2004, remained stable between 2004 and 2007, and then increased slightly to an all-time high of 33.2 per 1,000 live births in 2009. In Canada, rates also increased from 20.0 in 1991 to 28.3 per 1,000 live births in 2004, continued to increase modestly between 2004 and 2007, and rose to a high of 31.4 per 1,000 in 2009. Rates of triplet+ live births in the United States increased dramatically from 81.4 in 1991 to 193.5 per 100,000 live births in 1998, remained stable between 1998 and 2003 and then decreased to 148.9 per 100,000 in 2007. The rate declined marginally in 2008, but then rose again in 2009 to 153.5 per 100,000. Rates of triplet+ live births were much lower in Canada, although the temporal pattern of change was similar.
Conclusion
The rate of twin live births in the United States and Canada continues to increase, though more modestly than during the 1990s. Recent declines in rates of triplet+ live births in both countries have been followed by unstable trends.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-103
PMCID: PMC3533860  PMID: 23017111
Multiple births; Twins; Triplets
6.  Sudden infant death syndrome: a re-examination of temporal trends 
Background
While the reduction in infants’ prone sleeping has led to a temporal decline in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), some aspects of this trend remain unexplained. We assessed whether changes in the gestational age distribution of births also contributed to the temporal reduction in SIDS.
Methods
SIDS patterns among singleton and twin births in the United States were analysed in 1995–96 and 2004–05. The temporal reduction in SIDS was partitioned using the Kitagawa decomposition method into reductions due to changes in the gestational age distribution and reductions due to changes in gestational age-specific SIDS rates. Both the traditional and the fetuses-at-risk models were used.
Results
SIDS rates declined with increasing gestation under the traditional perinatal model. Rates were higher at early gestation among singletons compared with twins, while the reverse was true at later gestation. Under the fetuses-at-risk model, SIDS rates increased with increasing gestation and twins had higher rates of SIDS than singletons at all gestational ages. Between 1995–96 and 2004–05, SIDS declined from 8.3 to 5.6 per 10,000 live births among singletons and from 14.2 to 10.6 per 10,000 live births among twins. Decomposition using the traditional model showed that the SIDS reduction among singletons and twins was entirely due to changes in the gestational age-specific SIDS rate. The fetuses-at-risk model attributed 45% of the SIDS reduction to changes in the gestational age distribution and 55% of the reduction to changes in gestational age-specific SIDS rates among singletons; among twins these proportions were 64% and 36%, respectively.
Conclusion
Changes in the gestational age distribution may have contributed to the recent temporal reduction in SIDS.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-59
PMCID: PMC3437219  PMID: 22747916
SIDS; Temporal trend; Gestational age
7.  Temporal trends in neonatal outcomes following iatrogenic preterm delivery 
Background
Preterm birth rates have increased substantially in the recent years mostly due to obstetric intervention. We studied the effects of increasing iatrogenic preterm birth on temporal trends in perinatal mortality and serious neonatal morbidity in the United States.
Methods
We used data on singleton and twin births in the United States, 1995-2005 (n = 36,399,333), to examine trends in stillbirths, neonatal deaths, and serious neonatal morbidity (5-minute Apgar ≤3, assisted ventilation ≥30 min and neonatal seizures). Preterm birth subtypes were identified using an algorithm that categorized live births <37 weeks into iatrogenic preterm births, births following premature rupture of membranes and spontaneous preterm births. Temporal changes were quantified using odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Results
Among singletons, preterm birth increased from 7.3 to 8.8 per 100 live births from 1995 to 2005, while iatrogenic preterm birth increased from 2.2 to 3.7 per 100 live births. Stillbirth rates declined from 3.4 to 3.0 per 1,000 total births from 1995-96 to 2004-05, and neonatal mortality rates declined from 2.4 to 2.1 per 1,000 live births. Temporal declines in neonatal mortality/morbidity were most pronounced at 34-36 weeks gestation and larger among iatrogenic preterm births (OR = 0.75, CI 0.73-0.77) than among spontaneous preterm births (OR = 0.82, CI 0.80-0.84); P < 0.001. Similar patterns were observed among twins, with some notable differences.
Conclusion
Increases in iatrogenic preterm birth have been accompanied by declines in perinatal mortality. The temporal decline in neonatal mortality/serious neonatal morbidity has been larger among iatrogenic preterm births as compared with spontaneous preterm births.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-39
PMCID: PMC3130708  PMID: 21612655
8.  Trends in postpartum hemorrhage in high resource countries: a review and recommendations from the International Postpartum Hemorrhage Collaborative Group 
Background
Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is a major cause of maternal mortality and morbidity worldwide. Several recent publications have noted an increasing trend in incidence over time. The international PPH collaboration was convened to explore the observed trends and to set out actions to address the factors identified.
Methods
We reviewed available data sources on the incidence of PPH over time in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the USA. Where information was available, the incidence of PPH was stratified by cause.
Results
We observed an increasing trend in PPH, using heterogeneous definitions, in Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA. The observed increase in PPH in Australia, Canada and the USA was limited solely to immediate/atonic PPH. We noted increasing rates of severe adverse outcomes due to hemorrhage in Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA.
Conclusion
Key Recommendations
1. Future revisions of the International Classification of Diseases should include separate codes for atonic PPH and PPH immediately following childbirth that is due to other causes. Also, additional codes are required for placenta accreta/percreta/increta.
2. Definitions of PPH should be unified; further research is required to investigate how definitions are applied in practice to the coding of data.
3. Additional improvement in the collection of data concerning PPH is required, specifically including a measure of severity.
4. Further research is required to determine whether an increased rate of reported PPH is also observed in other countries, and to further investigate potential risk factors including increased duration of labor, obesity and changes in second and third stage management practice.
5. Training should be provided to all staff involved in maternity care concerning assessment of blood loss and the monitoring of women after childbirth. This is key to reducing the severity of PPH and preventing any adverse outcomes.
6. Clinicians should be more vigilant given the possibility that the frequency and severity of PPH has in fact increased. This applies particularly to small hospitals with relatively few deliveries where management protocols may not be defined adequately and drugs or equipment may not be on hand to deal with unexpected severe PPH.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-55
PMCID: PMC2790440  PMID: 19943928
9.  Does one size fit all? The case for ethnic-specific standards of fetal growth 
Background
Birth weight for gestational age is a widely-used proxy for fetal growth. Although the need for different standards for males and females is generally acknowledged, the physiologic vs pathologic nature of ethnic differences in fetal growth is hotly debated and remains unresolved.
Methods
We used all stillbirth, live birth, and deterministically linked infant deaths in British Columbia from 1981 to 2000 to examine fetal growth and perinatal mortality in Chinese (n = 40,092), South Asian (n = 38,670), First Nations, i.e., North American Indian (n = 56,097), and other (n = 731,109) births. We used a new analytic approach based on total fetuses at risk to compare the four ethnic groups in perinatal mortality, mean birth weight, and "revealed" (< 10th percentile) small-for-gestational age (SGA) among live births based on both a single standard and four ethnic-specific standards.
Results
Despite their lower mean birth weights and higher SGA rates (when based on a single standard), Chinese and South Asian infants had lower perinatal mortality risks throughout gestation. The opposite pattern was observed for First Nations births: higher mean birth weights, lower revealed SGA rates, and higher perinatal mortality risks. When SGA was based on ethnic-specific standards, however, the pattern was concordant with that observed for perinatal mortality.
Conclusion
The concordance of perinatal mortality and SGA rates when based on ethnic-specific standards, and their discordance when based on a single standard, strongly suggests that the observed ethnic differences in fetal growth are physiologic, rather than pathologic, and make a strong case for ethnic-specific standards.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-1
PMCID: PMC2266898  PMID: 18179721
10.  The effect of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy on small for gestational age and stillbirth: a population based study 
Background
Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are leading causes of maternal, fetal and neonatal morbidity and mortality worldwide. However, studies attempting to quantify the effect of hypertension on adverse perinatal outcomes have been mostly conducted in tertiary centres. This population-based study explored the frequency of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy and the associated increase in small for gestational age (SGA) and stillbirth.
Methods
We used information on all pregnant women and births, in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, between 1988 and 2000. Pregnancies were excluded if delivery occurred < 20 weeks, if birthweight was < 500 grams, if there was a high-order multiple pregnancy (greater than twin gestation), or a major fetal anomaly.
Results
The study population included 135,466 pregnancies. Of these, 7.7% had mild pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), 1.3% had severe PIH, 0.2% had HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelets), 0.02% had eclampsia, 0.6% had chronic hypertension, and 0.4% had chronic hypertension with superimposed PIH. Women with any hypertension in pregnancy were 1.6 (95% CI 1.5–1.6) times more likely to have a live birth with SGA and 1.4 (95% CI 1.1–1.8) times more likely to have a stillbirth as compared with normotensive women. Adjusted analyses showed that women with gestational hypertension without proteinuria (mild PIH) and with proteinuria (severe PIH, HELLP, or eclampsia) were more likely to have infants with SGA (RR 1.5, 95% CI 1.4–1.6 and RR 3.2, 95% CI 2.8–3.6, respectively). Women with pre-existing hypertension were also more likely to give birth to an infant with SGA (RR 2.5, 95% CI 2.2–3.0) or to have a stillbirth (RR 3.2, 95% CI 1.9–5.4).
Conclusions
This large, population-based study confirms and quantifies the magnitude of the excess risk of small for gestational age and stillbirth among births to women with hypertensive disease in pregnancy.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-4-17
PMCID: PMC515178  PMID: 15298717
11.  A parsimonious explanation for intersecting perinatal mortality curves: understanding the effect of plurality and of parity 
Background
Birth weight- and gestational age-specific perinatal mortality curves intersect when compared across categories of maternal smoking, plurality, race and other factors. No simple explanation exists for this paradoxical observation.
Methods
We used data on all live births, stillbirths and infant deaths in Canada (1991–1997) to compare perinatal mortality rates among singleton and twin births, and among singleton births to nulliparous and parous women. Birth weight- and gestational age-specific perinatal mortality rates were first calculated by dividing the number of perinatal deaths at any given birth weight or gestational age by the number of total births at that birth weight or gestational age (conventional calculation). Gestational age-specific perinatal mortality rates were also calculated using the number of fetuses at risk of perinatal death at any given gestational age.
Results
Conventional perinatal mortality rates among twin births were lower than those among singletons at lower birth weights and earlier gestation ages, while the reverse was true at higher birth weights and later gestational ages. When perinatal mortality rates were based on fetuses at risk, however, twin births had consistently higher mortality rates than singletons at all gestational ages. A similar pattern emerged in contrasts of gestational age-specific perinatal mortality among singleton births to nulliparous and parous women. Increases in gestational age-specific rates of growth-restriction with advancing gestational age presaged rising rates of gestational age-specific perinatal mortality in both contrasts.
Conclusions
The proper conceptualization of perinatal risk eliminates the mortality crossover paradox and provides new insights into perinatal health issues.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-3-3
PMCID: PMC166132  PMID: 12780942

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