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1.  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
2.  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
3.  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
4.  Induction of labour versus expectant monitoring for gestational hypertension or mild pre-eclampsia between 34 and 37 weeks' gestation (HYPITAT-II): a multicentre, open-label randomised controlled trial 
Background
Gestational hypertension (GH) and pre-eclampsia (PE) can result in severe complications such as eclampsia, placental abruption, syndrome of Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelets (HELLP) and ultimately even neonatal or maternal death. We recently showed that in women with GH or mild PE at term induction of labour reduces both high risk situations for mothers as well as the caesarean section rate. In view of this knowledge, one can raise the question whether women with severe hypertension, pre-eclampsia or deterioration chronic hypertension between 34 and 37 weeks of gestation should be delivered or monitored expectantly. Induction of labour might prevent maternal complications. However, induction of labour in late pre-term pregnancy might increase neonatal morbidity and mortality compared with delivery at term.
Methods/Design
Pregnant women with severe gestational hypertension, mild pre-eclampsia or deteriorating chronic hypertension at a gestational age between 34+0 and 36+6 weeks will be asked to participate in a multi-centre randomised controlled trial. Women will be randomised to either induction of labour or expectant monitoring. In the expectant monitoring arm, women will be induced only when the maternal or fetal condition detoriates or at 37+0 weeks of gestation. The primary outcome measure is a composite endpoint of maternal mortality, severe maternal complications (eclampsia, HELLP syndrome, pulmonary oedema and thromboembolic disease) and progression to severe pre-eclampsia. Secondary outcomes measures are respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), neonatal morbidity and mortality, caesarean section and vaginal instrumental delivery rates, maternal quality of life and costs. Analysis will be intention to treat. The power calculation is based on an expectant reduction of the maternal composite endpoint from 5% to 1% for an expected increase in neonatal RDS from 1% at 37 weeks to 10% at 34 weeks. This implies that 680 women have to be randomised.
Discussion
This trial will provide insight as to whether in women with hypertensive disorders late pre-term, induction of labour is an effective treatment to prevent severe maternal complications without compromising the neonatal morbidity.
Trial Registration
NTR1792 Clinical trial registration: http://www.trialregister.nl
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-50
PMCID: PMC3161905  PMID: 21736705
5.  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
6.  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

Results 1-6 (6)