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1.  Long-term health-related and economic consequences of short-term outcomes in evaluation of perinatal interventions 
Background
Many perinatal interventions are performed to improve long-term neonatal outcome. To evaluate the long-term effect of a perinatal intervention follow-up of the child after discharge from the hospital is necessary because serious sequelae from perinatal complications frequently manifest themselves only after several years. However, long-term follow-up is time-consuming, is not in the awareness of obstetricians, is expensive and falls outside the funding-period of most obstetric studies. Consequently, short-term outcomes are often reported instead of the primary long-term end-point. With this project, we will assess the current state of affairs concerning follow-up after obstetric RCTs and we will develop multivariable prediction models for different long-term health outcomes. Furthermore, we would like to encourage other researchers participating in follow-up studies after large obstetric trials (> 350 women) to inform us about their studies so that we can include their follow-up study in our systematic review. We would invite these researchers also to join our effort and to collaborate with us on the external validation of our prediction models.
Methods/Design
A systematic review of neonatal follow-up after obstetric studies will be performed. All reviews of the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth group will be assessed for reviews on interventions that aimed to improve neonatal outcome. Reviews on interventions primary looking at other aspects than neonatal outcome such as labour progress will also be included when these interventions can change the outcome of the neonate on the short or long-term. Our review will be limited to RCTs with more than 350 women. Information that will be extracted from these RCTs will address whether, how and for how long follow-up has been performed. However, in many cases long-term follow-up of the infants will not be feasible. An alternative solution to limited follow-up could be to develop prediction models to estimate long-term health outcomes of the newborn based on specific perinatal outcomes and other covariates. For the development of multivariable prediction models for several health outcomes, we will use data available from a Dutch cohort study of preterm (< 32 weeks) and/or small for gestational age infants (< 1500 g). These infants were born in The Netherlands in 1983 and followed until they reached the age of 19.
Discussion
The systematic review will provide insight in the extent and methods used for follow-up assessments after obstetric RCTs in the past. The prediction models can be used by future studies to extrapolate short-term outcomes to a long-term horizon or to indicate for which neonates long-term follow-up is required, as their outcomes (either absence or presence of sequelae) cannot be adequately predicted from short-term outcomes and clinical background characteristics.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-42
PMCID: PMC2928175  PMID: 20698963
3.  Effects of induction of labour versus expectant management in women with impending post-term pregnancies: the 41 week – 42 week dilemma 
Background
Post-term pregnancy, a pregnancy exceeding 294 days or 42 completed weeks, is associated with increased perinatal morbidity and mortality and is considered a high-risk condition which requires specialist surveillance and induction of labour. However, there is uncertainty on the policy concerning the timing of induction for post-term pregnancy or impending post-term pregnancy, leading to practice variation between caregivers. Previous studies on induction at or beyond 41 weeks versus expectant management showed different results on perinatal outcome though conclusions in meta-analyses show a preference for induction at 41 weeks. However, interpretation of the results is hampered by the limited sample size of most trials and the heterogeneity in design. Most control groups had a policy of awaiting spontaneous onset of labour that went far beyond 42 weeks, which does not reflect usual care in The Netherlands where induction of labour at 42 weeks is the regular policy. Thus leaving the question unanswered if induction at 41 weeks results in better perinatal outcomes than expectant management until 42 weeks.
Methods/design
In this study we compare a policy of labour induction at 41 + 0/+1 weeks with a policy of expectant management until 42 weeks in obstetrical low risk women without contra-indications for expectant management until 42 weeks and a singleton pregnancy in cephalic position. We will perform a multicenter randomised controlled clinical trial. Our primary outcome will be a composite outcome of perinatal mortality and neonatal morbidity. Secondary outcomes will be maternal outcomes as mode of delivery (operative vaginal delivery and Caesarean section), need for analgesia and postpartum haemorrhage (≥1000 ml). Maternal preferences, satisfaction, wellbeing, pain and anxiety will be assessed alongside the trial.
Discussion
This study will provide evidence for the management of pregnant women reaching a gestational age of 41 weeks.
Trial registration
Dutch Trial Register (Nederlands Trial Register): NTR3431. Registered: 14 May 2012.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-350
PMCID: PMC4288619  PMID: 25338555
Pregnancy prolonged; Pregnancy post-term; Labour induced; Expectant management; Perinatal outcome, neonatal outcome; Maternal outcome; Maternal preferences
5.  Nifedipine versus atosiban in the treatment of threatened preterm labour (Assessment of Perinatal Outcome after Specific Tocolysis in Early Labour: APOSTEL III-Trial) 
Background
Preterm birth is the most common cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. Postponing delivery for 48 hours with tocolytics to allow for maternal steroid administration and antenatal transportation to a centre with neonatal intensive care unit facilities is the standard treatment for women with threatening preterm delivery in most centres. However, there is controversy as to which tocolytic agent is the drug of first choice. Previous trials have focused on tocolytic efficacy and side effects, and are probably underpowered to detect clinically meaningfull differences in neonatal outcome. Thus, the current evidence is inconclusive to support a balanced recommendation for clinical practice. This multicenter randomised clinical trial aims to compare nifedipine and atosiban in terms of neonatal outcome, duration of pregnancy and maternal side effects.
Methods/Design
The Apostel III trial is a nationwide multicenter randomised controlled study. Women with threatened preterm labour (gestational age 25 – 34 weeks) defined as at least 3 contractions per 30 minutes, and 1) a cervical length of ≤ 10 mm or 2) a cervical length of 11-30 mm and a positive Fibronectin test or 3) ruptured membranes will be randomly allocated to treatment with nifedipine or atosiban. Primary outcome is a composite measure of severe neonatal morbidity and mortality. Secondary outcomes will be time to delivery, gestational age at delivery, days on ventilation support, neonatal intensive care (NICU) admittance, length admission in neonatal intensive care, total days in hospital until 3 months corrected age, convulsions, apnoea, asphyxia, proven meningitis, pneumothorax, maternal side effects and costs. Furthermore, an economic evaluation of the treatment will be performed. Analysis will be by intention to treat principle. The power calculation is based on an expected 10% difference in the prevalence of adverse neonatal outcome. This implies that 500 women have to be randomised (two sided test, β 0.2 at alpha 0.05).
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence on the optimal drug of choice in acute tocolysis in threatening preterm labour.
Trial registration
Clinical trial registration: NTR2947, date of registration: June 20th 2011.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-93
PMCID: PMC3944539  PMID: 24589124
Preterm birth; Tocolytics; Nifedipine; Atosiban; Outcome; Drug safety
6.  Surgical versus expectant management in women with an incomplete evacuation of the uterus after treatment with misoprostol for miscarriage: the MisoREST trial 
Background
Medical treatment with misoprostol is a non-invasive and inexpensive treatment option in first trimester miscarriage. However, about 30% of women treated with misoprostol have incomplete evacuation of the uterus. Despite being relatively asymptomatic in most cases, this finding often leads to additional surgical treatment (curettage). A comparison of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of surgical management versus expectant management is lacking in women with incomplete miscarriage after misoprostol.
Methods/Design
The proposed study is a multicentre randomized controlled trial that assesses the costs and effects of curettage versus expectant management in women with incomplete evacuation of the uterus after misoprostol treatment for first trimester miscarriage.
Eligible women will be randomized, after informed consent, within 24 hours after identification of incomplete evacuation of the uterus by ultrasound scanning. Women are randomly allocated to surgical or expectant management. Curettage is performed within three days after randomization.
Primary outcome is the sonographic finding of an empty uterus (maximal diameter of any contents of the uterine cavity < 10 millimeters) six weeks after study entry. Secondary outcomes are patients’ quality of life, surgical outcome parameters, the type and number of re-interventions during the first three months and pregnancy rates and outcome 12 months after study entry.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence for the (cost) effectiveness of surgical versus expectant management in women with incomplete evacuation of the uterus after misoprostol treatment for first trimester miscarriage.
Trial registration
Dutch Trial Register: NTR3110
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-102
PMCID: PMC3648386  PMID: 23638956
Curettage; Expectant management; Incomplete evacuation; Miscarriage; Misoprostol
7.  Induction of labour with a Foley catheter or oral misoprostol at term: the PROBAAT-II study, a multicentre randomised controlled trial 
Background
Induction of labour is a common obstetric procedure. At present, different methods are used for induction of labour in women with an unfavourable cervix. Recently, we showed that in term women with an unfavorable cervix the use of a Foley catheter in comparison with vaginal Prostaglandin E2 gel, results in a comparable vaginal delivery rate. A meta-analysis on the subject indicated lower rates of hyperstimulation, and probably as a sequel fewer cases of postpartum haemorrhage. Misoprostol (PgE1) is another type of prostaglandin frequently used for labour induction, recommended by the international federation of gynaecology and obstetrics (FIGO). Misoprostol can be administered by vaginal, rectal and oral route. There is evidence that oral administration results in less asphyxia and hyperstimulation than vaginal administration. At present, valid comparisons between oral misoprostol and Foley catheter are lacking. Therefore, we propose a randomised controlled trial comparing Foley catheter to oral misoprostol in order to assess safety and cost-effectiveness.
Methods/Design
We plan a multicentre, randomised, controlled, open-label clinical trial among term pregnant women with a vital singleton in cephalic presentation, unfavorable cervix, intact membranes and an indication for induction of labour. After informed consent, women will be randomly allocated by a webbased randomisation system to transcervical Foley catheter or oral misoprostol (50 mcg every 4 hours). The primary outcome will be a composite of complications of uterine hyperstimulation, i.e. post partum haemorrhage and asphyxia. Secondary outcomes are mode of delivery, maternal and neonatal morbidity, costs and women’s preference. Serious adverse events such as severe maternal or neonatal morbitity or mortality will be monitored and reported to an independent data safety monitory board. With a sample size of 1860 women we will be able to demonstrate a 5% non-inferiority of the Foley catheter as compared to misoprostol for the composite outcome.
Discussion
Worldwide, various methods are being used for labour induction. Results of the proposed trial will contribute to the answer which method of induction of labour is most safe, cost-effective, and patient friendly and will help to construct evidence based guidelines.
Trial registration
The Netherlands Trial Register NTR3466
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-67
PMCID: PMC3610263  PMID: 23506128
Induction of labour; Oral misoprostol; Foley catheter; Asphyxia; Post partum haemorrhage; Hyperstimulation; Bishop score; Unfavourable cervix
8.  Remifentanil patient controlled analgesia versus epidural analgesia in labour. A multicentre randomized controlled trial 
Background
Pain relief during labour is a topic of major interest in the Netherlands. Epidural analgesia is considered to be the most effective method of pain relief and recommended as first choice. However its uptake by pregnant women is limited compared to other western countries, partly as a result of non-availability due to logistic problems. Remifentanil, a synthetic opioid, is very suitable for patient controlled analgesia. Recent studies show that epidural analgesia is superior to remifentanil patient controlled analgesia in terms of pain intensity score; however there was no difference in satisfaction with pain relief between both treatments.
Methods/design
The proposed study is a multicentre randomized controlled study that assesses the cost-effectiveness of remifentanil patient controlled analgesia compared to epidural analgesia. We hypothesize that remifentanil patient controlled analgesia is as effective in improving pain appreciation scores as epidural analgesia, with lower costs and easier achievement of 24 hours availability of pain relief for women in labour and efficient pain relief for those with a contraindication for epidural analgesia.
Eligible women will be informed about the study and randomized before active labour has started. Women will be randomly allocated to a strategy based on epidural analgesia or on remifentanil patient controlled analgesia when they request pain relief during labour. Primary outcome is the pain appreciation score, i.e. satisfaction with pain relief.
Secondary outcome parameters are costs, patient satisfaction, pain scores (pain-intensity), mode of delivery and maternal and neonatal side effects.
The economic analysis will be performed from a short-term healthcare perspective. For both strategies the cost of perinatal care for mother and child, starting at the onset of labour and ending ten days after delivery, will be registered and compared.
Discussion
This study, considering cost effectiveness of remifentanil as first choice analgesia versus epidural analgesia, could strongly improve the care for 180.000 women, giving birth in the Netherlands yearly by giving them access to pain relief during labour, 24 hours a day.
Trial registration number
Dutch Trial Register NTR2551, http://www.trialregister.nl
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-63
PMCID: PMC3464937  PMID: 22748068
Analgesia; Labour; Remifentanil; Patient controlled analgesia; Epidural
9.  Costs and effects of screening and treating low risk women with a singleton pregnancy for asymptomatic bacteriuria, the ASB study 
Background
The prevalence of asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB) in pregnancy is 2-10% and is associated with both maternal and neonatal adverse outcomes as pyelonephritis and preterm delivery. Antibiotic treatment is reported to decrease these adverse outcomes although the existing evidence is of poor quality.
Methods/Design
We plan a combined screen and treat study in women with a singleton pregnancy. We will screen women between 16 and 22 weeks of gestation for ASB using the urine dipslide technique. The dipslide is considered positive when colony concentration ≥105 colony forming units (CFU)/mL of a single microorganism or two different colonies but one ≥105 CFU/mL is found, or when Group B Streptococcus bacteriuria is found in any colony concentration. Women with a positive dipslide will be randomly allocated to receive nitrofurantoin or placebo 100 mg twice a day for 5 consecutive days (double blind). Primary outcomes of this trial are maternal pyelonephritis and/or preterm delivery before 34 weeks. Secondary outcomes are neonatal and maternal morbidity, neonatal weight, time to delivery, preterm delivery rate before 32 and 37 weeks, days of admission in neonatal intensive care unit, maternal admission days and costs.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence for the benefit and cost-effectiveness of dipslide screening for ASB among low risk women at 16–22 weeks of pregnancy and subsequent nitrofurantoin treatment.
Trial registration
Dutch trial registry: NTR-3068
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-52
PMCID: PMC3433391  PMID: 22892110
10.  Progestogens to prevent preterm birth in twin pregnancies: an individual participant data meta-analysis of randomized trials 
Background
Preterm birth is the principal factor contributing to adverse outcomes in multiple pregnancies. Randomized controlled trials of progestogens to prevent preterm birth in twin pregnancies have shown no clear benefits. However, individual studies have not had sufficient power to evaluate potential benefits in women at particular high risk of early delivery (for example, women with a previous preterm birth or short cervix) or to determine adverse effects for rare outcomes such as intrauterine death.
Methods/design
We propose an individual participant data meta-analysis of high quality randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of progestogen treatment in women with a twin pregnancy. The primary outcome will be adverse perinatal outcome (a composite measure of perinatal mortality and significant neonatal morbidity). Missing data will be imputed within each original study, before data of the individual studies are pooled. The effects of 17-hydroxyprogesterone caproate or vaginal progesterone treatment in women with twin pregnancies will be estimated by means of a random effects log-binomial model. Analyses will be adjusted for variables used in stratified randomization as appropriate. Pre-specified subgroup analysis will be performed to explore the effect of progestogen treatment in high-risk groups.
Discussion
Combining individual patient data from different randomized trials has potential to provide valuable, clinically useful information regarding the benefits and potential harms of progestogens in women with twin pregnancy overall and in relevant subgroups.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-13
PMCID: PMC3315727  PMID: 22420582
11.  Preventing preterm birth with progesterone: costs and effects of screening low risk women with a singleton pregnancy for short cervical length, the Triple P study 
Background
Women with a short cervical length in mid-trimester pregnancy have a higher risk of preterm birth and therefore a higher rate of neonatal mortality and morbidity. Progesterone can potentially decrease the number of preterm births and lower neonatal mortality and morbidity. Previous studies showed good results of progesterone in women with either a history of preterm birth or a short cervix. However, it is unknown whether screening for a short cervix and subsequent treatment in mid trimester pregnancy is effective in low risk women.
Methods/Design
We plan a combined screen and treat study among women with a singleton pregnancy without a previous preterm birth. In these women, we will measure cervical length at the standard anomaly scan performed between 18 and 22 weeks. Women with cervical length ≤ 30 mm at two independent measurements will be randomly allocated to receive either vaginal progesterone tablets or placebo between 22 and 34 weeks. The primary outcome of this trial is adverse neonatal condition, defined as a composite outcome of neonatal mortality and severe morbidity. Secondary outcomes are time to delivery, preterm birth rate before 32, 34 and 37 weeks, days of admission in neonatal intensive care unit, maternal morbidity, maternal admission days for preterm labour and costs. We will assess growth, physical condition and neurodevelopmental outcome of the children at two years of age.
Discussion
This study will provide evidence for the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of screening for short cervical length at the 18-22 weeks and subsequent progesterone treatment among low risk women.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR207
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-77
PMCID: PMC3214137  PMID: 22023876
12.  Well being of obstetric patients on minimal blood transfusions (WOMB trial) 
Background
Primary postpartum haemorrhage is an obstetrical emergency often causing acute anaemia that may require immediate red blood cell (RBC) transfusion. This anaemia results in symptoms such as fatigue, which may have major impact on the health-related quality of life. RBC transfusion is generally thought to alleviate these undesirable effects although it may cause transfusion reactions. Moreover, the postpartum haemoglobin level seems to influence fatigue only for a short period of time. At present, there are no strict transfusion criteria for this specific indication, resulting in a wide variation in postpartum policy of RBC transfusion in the Netherlands.
Methods/Design
The WOMB trial is a multicentre randomised non-inferiority trial. Women with acute anaemia due to postpartum haemorrhage, 12-24 hours after delivery and not initially treated with RBC transfusion, are eligible for randomisation. Patients with severe physical complaints are excluded. Patients are randomised for either RBC transfusion or expectant management. Health related quality of life (HRQoL) will be assessed at inclusion, at three days and one, three and six weeks postpartum with three validated measures (Multi-dimensional Fatigue Inventory, ShortForm-36, EuroQol-5D). Primary outcome of the study is physical fatigue three days postpartum. Secondary outcome measures are general and mental fatigue scores and generic health related quality of life scores, the number of RBC transfusions, length of hospital stay, complications and health-care costs.
The primary analysis will be by intention-to-treat. The various longitudinal scores will be evaluated using Repeated Measurements ANOVA. A costs benefit analysis will also be performed. The power calculation is based on the exclusion of a difference in means of 1.3 points or greater in favour of RBC transfusion arm regarding physical fatigue subscale. With missing data not exceeding 20%, 250 patients per arm have to be randomised (one-sided alpha = 0.025, power = 80%).
Discussion
This study will provide evidence for a guideline regarding RBC transfusion in the postpartum patient suffering from acute anaemia. Equivalence in fatigue score, remaining HRQoL scores and physical complications between both groups is assumed, in which case an expectant management would be preferred to minimise transfusion reactions and costs.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00335023, Nederlands Trial Register NTR335
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-83
PMCID: PMC3022737  PMID: 21162725
13.  Implementation of the external cephalic version in breech delivery. Dutch national implementation study of external cephalic version 
Background
Breech presentation occurs in 3 to 4% of all term pregnancies. External cephalic version (ECV) is proven effective to prevent vaginal breech deliveries and therefore it is recommended by clinical guidelines of the Royal Dutch Organisation for Midwives (KNOV) and the Dutch Society for Obstetrics and Gynaecology (NVOG). Implementation of ECV does not exceed 50 to 60% and probably less.
We aim to improve the implementation of ECV to decrease maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality due to breech presentations. This will be done by defining barriers and facilitators of implementation of ECV in the Netherlands. An innovative implementation strategy will be developed based on improved patient counselling and thorough instructions of health care providers for counselling.
Method/design
The ultimate purpose of this implementation study is to improve counselling of pregnant women and information of clinicians to realize a better implementation of ECV.
The first phase of the project is to detect the barriers and facilitators of ECV. The next step is to develop an implementation strategy to inform and counsel pregnant women with a breech presentation, and to inform and educate care providers. In the third phase, the effectiveness of the developed implementation strategy will be evaluated in a randomised trial. The study population is a random selection of midwives and gynaecologists from 60 to 100 hospitals and practices. Primary endpoints are number of counselled women. Secondary endpoints are process indicators, the amount of fetes in cephalic presentation at birth, complications due to ECV, the number of caesarean sections and perinatal condition of mother and child. Cost effectiveness of the implementation strategy will be measured.
Discussion
This study will provide evidence for the cost effectiveness of a structural implementation of external cephalic versions to reduce the number of breech presentations at term.
Trial Registration
Dutch Trial Register (NTR): 1878
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-20
PMCID: PMC2874762  PMID: 20459717
14.  Antenatal allopurinol for reduction of birth asphyxia induced brain damage (ALLO-Trial); a randomized double blind placebo controlled multicenter study 
Background
Hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy is associated with development of cerebral palsy and cognitive disability later in life and is therefore one of the fundamental problems in perinatal medicine. The xanthine-oxidase inhibitor allopurinol reduces the formation of free radicals, thereby limiting the amount of hypoxia-reperfusion damage. In case of suspected intra-uterine hypoxia, both animal and human studies suggest that maternal administration of allopurinol immediately prior to delivery reduces hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy.
Methods/Design
The proposed trial is a randomized double blind placebo controlled multicenter study in pregnant women at term in whom the foetus is suspected of intra-uterine hypoxia.
Allopurinol 500 mg IV or placebo will be administered antenatally to the pregnant woman when foetal hypoxia is suspected. Foetal distress is being diagnosed by the clinician as an abnormal or non-reassuring foetal heart rate trace, preferably accompanied by either significant ST-wave abnormalities (as detected by the STAN-monitor) or an abnormal foetal blood scalp sampling (pH < 7.20).
Primary outcome measures are the amount of S100B (a marker for brain tissue damage) and the severity of oxidative stress (measured by isoprostane, neuroprostane, non protein bound iron and hypoxanthine), both measured in umbilical cord blood. Secondary outcome measures are neonatal mortality, serious composite neonatal morbidity and long-term neurological outcome. Furthermore pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics will be investigated.
We expect an inclusion of 220 patients (110 per group) to be feasible in an inclusion period of two years. Given a suspected mean value of S100B of 1.05 ug/L (SD 0.37 ug/L) in the placebo group this trial has a power of 90% (alpha 0.05) to detect a mean value of S100B of 0.89 ug/L (SD 0.37 ug/L) in the 'allopurinol-treated' group (z-test2-sided). Analysis will be by intention to treat and it allows for one interim analysis.
Discussion
In this trial we aim to answer the question whether antenatal allopurinol administration reduces hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy in neonates exposed to foetal hypoxia.
Trial registration number
Clinical Trials, protocol registration system: NCT00189007
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-8
PMCID: PMC2834613  PMID: 20167117
15.  Pessaries in multiple pregnancy as a prevention of preterm birth: the ProTwin Trial 
Background
Multiple pregnancies are at high risk for preterm birth, and therefore an important cause of infant mortality and morbidity. A pessary is a simple and potentially effective measure for the prevention of preterm birth. Small studies have indicated its effectiveness, but large studies with sufficient power on the subject are lacking. Despite this lack of evidence, the treatment is at present applied by some gynaecologists in The Netherlands.
Methods/Design
We aim to investigate the hypothesis that prophylactic use of a cervical pessary will be effective in the prevention of preterm delivery and the neonatal mortality and morbidity resulting from preterm delivery in multiple pregnancy. We will evaluate the costs and effects of this intervention. At study entry, cervical length will be measured. Eligible women will be randomly allocated to receive either a cervical pessary or no intervention. The cervical pessary will be placed in situ at 16 to 20 weeks, and will stay in situ up to 36 weeks gestation or until delivery, whatever comes first.
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 7.2% without to 3.9% with a cervical pessary, using a two-sided test with an alpha of 0.05 and a power of 0.80.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence on whether a cervical pessary will decrease the incidence of early preterm birth and its concomitant bad neonatal outcome in multiple pregnancies.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials: NTR 1858
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-44
PMCID: PMC2754434  PMID: 19761606
16.  Assessment of perinatal outcome after sustained tocolysis in early labour (APOSTEL-II trial) 
Background
Preterm labour is the main cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality in the Western world. At present, there is evidence that tocolysis for 48 hours is useful in women with threatened preterm labour at least before 32 weeks. This allows transfer of the patient to a perinatal centre, and maximizes the effect of corticosteroids for improved neonatal survival. It is questionable whether treatment with tocolytics should be maintained after 48 hours.
Methods/Design
The APOSTEL II trial is a multicentre placebo-controlled study. Pregnant women admitted for threatened preterm labour who have been treated with 48 hours corticosteroids and tocolysis will be eligible to participate in the trial between 26+0 and 32+2 weeks gestational age. They will be randomly allocated to nifedipine (intervention) or placebo (control) for twelve days or until delivery, whatever comes first.
Primary outcome is a composite of perinatal death, and severe neonatal morbidity up to evaluation at 6 months after birth. Secondary outcomes are gestational age at delivery, number of days in neonatal intensive care and total days of the first 6 months out of hospital. In addition a cost-effectiveness analysis will be performed. Analysis will be by intention to treat. The power calculation is based on an expected 11% difference in adverse neonatal outcome. This implies that 406 women have to be randomised (two sided test, β 0.2 at alpha 0.05).
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence as to whether maintenance tocolysis reduces severe perinatal morbidity and mortality in women with threatened preterm labour before 32 weeks.
Trial Registration
Clinical trial registration: , NTR 1336, date of registration: June 3rd 2008.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-42
PMCID: PMC2754432  PMID: 19737426
17.  Cost-effectiveness of fibronectin testing in a triage in women with threatened preterm labor: alleviation of pregnancy outcome by suspending tocolysis in early labor (APOSTEL-I trial) 
Background
At present, women with threatened preterm labor before 32 weeks of gestation are, after transfer to a perinatal center, treated with tocolytics and corticosteroids. Many of these women are treated unnecessarily. Fibronectin is an accurate predictor for the occurrence of preterm birth among women with threatened preterm labor. We will assess whether triage of these women with fibronectin testing, cervical length or their combination is cost-effective.
Methods/Design
We will investigate a prospective cohort of women referred to a perinatal centre for spontaneous threatened preterm labor between 24 and 34 weeks with intact membranes. All women will be tested for fibronectin and cervical length. Women with a cervical length <10 mm and women with a cervical length between 10-30 mm in combination with a positive fibronectin test will be treated with tocolytics according to local protocol. Women with a cervical length between 10-30 mm in combination with a negative fibronectin test will be randomised between treatment with nifedipine (intervention) and placebo (control) for 48 hours. Women with a cervical length > 30 mm will be managed according to local protocol. Corticosteroids may be given to all women at the discretion of the attending physician. Primary outcome measure will be delivery within 7 days. Secondary outcome measures will be neonatal morbidity and mortality, complications of tocolytics, costs and health related quality of life. The analysis will be according to the intention to treat principle. We anticipate the probability on preterm birth within 7 days in the group of women with a negative fibronectine test to be 5%. Two groups of 110 women will be needed to assure that in case of non-inferiority the difference in the proportion of preterm deliveries < 7 days will be within a prespecified boundary of 7.5% (one sided test, β 0.2, α 0.05). Data obtained from women with a positive and negative fibronectin tests in both the cohort study and the trial will be integrated in a cost-effectiveness analysis that will assess economic consequences of the use of fibronectin.
Discussion
This study will provide evidence for the use of fibronectin testing as safe and cost-effective method in a triage for threatened preterm labor.
Trial registration
Nederlands Trial Register (NTR) number 1857, .
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-38
PMCID: PMC2752451  PMID: 19723320
18.  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

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