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1.  Limiting weight gain in overweight and obese women during pregnancy to improve health outcomes: the LIMIT randomised controlled trial 
Background
Obesity is a significant global health problem, with the proportion of women entering pregnancy with a body mass index greater than or equal to 25 kg/m2 approaching 50%. Obesity during pregnancy is associated with a well-recognised increased risk of adverse health outcomes both for the woman and her infant, however there is more limited information available regarding effective interventions to improve health outcomes.
The aims of this randomised controlled trial are to assess whether the implementation of a package of dietary and lifestyle advice to overweight and obese women during pregnancy to limit gestational weight gain is effective in improving maternal, fetal and infant health outcomes.
Methods/Design
Design: Multicentred randomised, controlled trial.
Inclusion Criteria: Women with a singleton, live gestation between 10+0-20+0 weeks who are obese or overweight (defined as body mass index greater than or equal to 25 kg/m2), at the first antenatal visit.
Trial Entry & Randomisation: Eligible, consenting women will be randomised between 10+0 and 20+0 weeks gestation using a central telephone randomisation service, and randomisation schedule prepared by non-clinical research staff with balanced variable blocks. Stratification will be according to maternal BMI at trial entry, parity, and centre where planned to give birth.
Treatment Schedules: Women randomised to the Dietary and Lifestyle Advice Group will receive a series of inputs from research assistants and research dietician to limit gestational weight gain, and will include a combination of dietary, exercise and behavioural strategies.
Women randomised to the Standard Care Group will continue to receive their pregnancy care according to local hospital guidelines, which does not currently include routine provision of dietary, lifestyle and behavioural advice.
Outcome assessors will be blinded to the allocated treatment group.
Primary Study Outcome: infant large for gestational age (defined as infant birth weight ≥ 90th centile for gestational age).
Sample Size: 2,180 women to detect a 30% reduction in large for gestational age infants from 14.40% (p = 0.05, 80% power, two-tailed).
Discussion
This is a protocol for a randomised trial. The findings will contribute to the development of evidence based clinical practice guidelines.
Trial Registration
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12607000161426
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-79
PMCID: PMC3219553  PMID: 22026403
2.  Australasian randomised trial to evaluate the role of maternal intramuscular dexamethasone versus betamethasone prior to preterm birth to increase survival free of childhood neurosensory disability (A*STEROID): study protocol 
Background
Both dexamethasone and betamethasone, given to women at risk of preterm birth, substantially improve short-term neonatal health, increase the chance of the baby being discharged home alive, and reduce childhood neurosensory disability, remaining safe into adulthood. However, it is unclear which corticosteroid is of greater benefit to mother and child.
This study aims to determine whether giving dexamethasone to women at risk of preterm birth at less than 34 weeks’ gestation increases the chance of their children surviving free of neurosensory disability at two years’ corrected age, compared with betamethasone.
Methods/Design
Design randomised, multicentre, placebo controlled trial.
Inclusion criteria women at risk of preterm birth at less than 34 weeks’ gestation with a singleton or twin pregnancy and no contraindications to the use of antenatal corticosteroids and who give informed consent.
Trial entry & randomisation at telephone randomisation eligible women will be randomly allocated to either the dexamethasone group or the betamethasone group, allocated a study number and corresponding treatment pack.
Study groups women in the dexamethasone group will be administered two syringes of 12 mg dexamethasone (dexamethasone sodium phosphate) and women in the betamethasone group will be administered two syringes of 11.4 mg betamethasone (Celestone Chronodose). Both study groups consist of intramuscular treatments 24 hours apart.
Primary study outcome death or any neurosensory disability measured in children at two years’ corrected age.
Sample size a sample size of 1449 children is required to detect either a decrease in death or any neurosensory disability from 27.0% to 20.1% with dexamethasone compared with betamethasone, or an increase from 27.0% to 34.5% (two-sided alpha 0.05, 80% power, 5% loss to follow up, design effect 1.2).
Discussion
This study will provide high-level evidence of direct relevance for clinical practice. If one drug clearly results in significantly fewer deaths and fewer disabled children then it should be used consistently in women at risk of preterm birth and would be of great importance to women at risk of preterm birth, their children, health services and communities.
Trial registration
Trial registration number: ACTRN12608000631303
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-104
PMCID: PMC3655914  PMID: 23642125
Antenatal corticosteroids; Dexamethasone; Betamethasone; Preterm birth; Randomised controlled trial; Neurosensory disability
3.  The IDEAL study: investigation of dietary advice and lifestyle for women with borderline gestational diabetes: a randomised controlled trial - study protocol 
Background
The Australian Carbohydrate Intolerance Study in Pregnant Women (ACHOIS) showed that treatment of pregnant women with mild gestational diabetes mellitus is beneficial for both women and their infants. It is still uncertain whether there are benefits of similar treatment for women with borderline gestational diabetes.
This trial aims to assess whether dietary and lifestyle advice and treatment given to pregnant women who screen for borderline gestational diabetes reduces neonatal complications and maternal morbidities.
Methods/design
Design: Multicentre, randomised controlled trial.
Inclusion criteria: Women between 240 and 346 weeks gestation with a singleton pregnancy, a positive oral glucose challenge test (venous plasma glucose ≥7.8 mmol/L) and a normal oral 75 gram glucose tolerance test (fasting venous plasma glucose <5.5 mmol/L and a 2 hour glucose <7.8 mmol/L) with written, informed consent.
Trial entry and randomisation: Women with an abnormal oral glucose tolerance test (fasting venous plasma glucose ≥5.5 mmol/L or 2 hour glucose ≥7.8 mmol/L) will not be eligible and will be offered treatment for gestational diabetes, consistent with recommendations based on results of the ACHOIS trial. Eligible women will be randomised into either the ‘Routine Care Group’ or the ‘Intervention Group’.
Study groups: Women in the ‘Routine Care Group’ will receive routine obstetric care reflecting current clinical practice in Australian hospitals. Women in the ‘Intervention Group’ will receive obstetric care, which will include dietary and lifestyle advice, monitoring of blood glucose and further medical treatment for hyperglycaemia as appropriate.
Primary study outcome: Incidence of large for gestational age infants.
Sample size: A sample size of 682 women will be sufficient to show a 50% reduction in the risk of large for gestational age infants (alpha 0.05 two-tailed, 80% power, 4% loss to follow up) from 14% to 7% with dietary and lifestyle advice and treatment.
Discussion
A conclusive trial outcome will provide reliable evidence of relevance for the care of women with borderline glucose intolerance in pregnancy and their infants.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry - ACTRN12607000174482
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-106
PMCID: PMC3506505  PMID: 23046499
Borderline gestational diabetes; Gestational diabetes mellitus; Randomised controlled trial; Diet; Lifestyle; Large for gestational age
4.  Hypnosis Antenatal Training for Childbirth (HATCh): a randomised controlled trial [NCT00282204] 
Background
Although medical interventions play an important role in preserving lives and maternal comfort they have become increasingly routine in normal childbirth. This may increase the risk of associated complications and a less satisfactory birth experience. Antenatal hypnosis is associated with a reduced need for pharmacological interventions during childbirth. This trial seeks to determine the efficacy or otherwise of antenatal group hypnosis preparation for childbirth in late pregnancy.
Methods/design
A single centre, randomised controlled trial using a 3 arm parallel group design in the largest tertiary maternity unit in South Australia. Group 1 participants receive antenatal hypnosis training in preparation for childbirth administered by a qualified hypnotherapist with the use of an audio compact disc on hypnosis for re-enforcement; Group 2 consists of antenatal hypnosis training in preparation for childbirth using an audio compact disc on hypnosis administered by a nurse with no training in hypnotherapy; Group 3 participants continue with their usual preparation for childbirth with no additional intervention. Women > 34 and < 39 weeks gestation, planning a vaginal birth, not in active labour, with a singleton, viable fetus of vertex presentation, are eligible to participate. Allocation concealment is achieved using telephone randomisation. Participants assigned to hypnosis groups commence hypnosis training as near as possible to 37 weeks gestation. Treatment allocations are concealed from treating obstetricians, anaesthetists, midwives and those personnel collecting and analysing data. Our sample size of 135 women/group gives the study 80% power to detect a clinically relevant fall of 20% in the number of women requiring pharmacological analgesia – the primary endpoint. We estimate that approximately 5–10% of women will deliver prior to receiving their allocated intervention. We plan to recruit 150 women/group and perform sequential interim analyses when 150 and 300 participants have been recruited. All participant data will be analysed, by a researcher blinded to treatment allocation, according to the "Intention to treat" principle with comprehensive pre-planned cost- benefit and subgroup analyses.
Discussion
If effective, hypnosis would be a simple, inexpensive way to improve the childbirth experience, reduce complications associated with pharmacological interventions, yield cost savings in maternity care, and this trial will provide evidence to guide clinical practice.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-6-5
PMCID: PMC1450315  PMID: 16515709
5.  Timing of birth for women with a twin pregnancy at term: a randomised controlled trial 
Background
There is a well recognized risk of complications for both women and infants of a twin pregnancy, increasing beyond 37 weeks gestation. Preterm birth prior to 37 weeks gestation is a recognized complication of a twin pregnancy, however, up to 50% of twins will be born after this time.
The aims of this randomised trial are to assess whether elective birth at 37 weeks gestation compared with standard care in women with a twin pregnancy affects the risk of perinatal death, and serious infant complications.
Methods/Design
Design: Multicentred randomised trial.
Inclusion Criteria: women with a twin pregnancy at 366 weeks or more without contraindication to continuation of pregnancy.
Trial Entry & Randomisation: Following written informed consent, eligible women will be randomised from 36+6 weeks gestation. The randomisation schedule uses balanced variable blocks, with stratification for centre of birth and planned mode of birth. Women will be randomised to either elective birth or standard care.
Treatment Schedules: Women allocated to the elective birth group will be planned for elective birth from 37 weeks gestation. Where the plan is for vaginal birth, this will involve induction of labour. Where the plan is for caesarean birth, this will involve elective caesarean section. For women allocated to standard care, birth will be planned for 38 weeks gestation or later. Where the plan is for vaginal birth, this will involve either awaiting the spontaneous onset of labour, or induction of labour if required. Where the plan is for caesarean birth, this will involve elective caesarean section (after 38 and as close to 39 weeks as possible).
Primary Study Outcome: A composite of perinatal mortality or serious neonatal morbidity.
Sample Size: 460 women with a twin pregnancy to show a reduction in the composite outcome from 16.3% to 6.7% with adjustment for the clustering of twin infants within mothers (p = 0.05, 80% power).
Discussion
This is a protocol for a randomised trial, the findings of which will contribute information about the optimal time of birth for women with an uncomplicated multiple pregnancy at and beyond 37 weeks gestation.
Clinical Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN15761056
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-68
PMCID: PMC2978123  PMID: 20973989
6.  Progesterone after previous preterm birth for prevention of neonatal respiratory distress syndrome (PROGRESS): a randomised controlled trial 
Background
Neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, as a consequence of preterm birth, is a major cause of early mortality and morbidity during infancy and childhood. Survivors of preterm birth continue to remain at considerable risk of both chronic lung disease and long-term neurological handicap. Progesterone is involved in the maintenance of uterine quiescence through modulation of the calcium-calmodulin-myosin-light-chain-kinase system in smooth muscle cells. The withdrawal of progesterone, either actual or functional is thought to be an antecedent to the onset of labour. While there have been recent reports of progesterone supplementation for women at risk of preterm birth which show promise in this intervention, there is currently insufficient data on clinically important outcomes for both women and infants to enable informed clinical decision-making.
The aims of this randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial are to assess whether the use of vaginal progesterone pessaries in women with a history of previous spontaneous preterm birth will reduce the risk and severity of respiratory distress syndrome, so improving their infant's health, without increasing maternal risks.
Methods
Design: Multicentred randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Inclusion Criteria: pregnant women with a live fetus, and a history of prior preterm birth at less than 37 weeks gestation and greater than 20 weeks gestation in the immediately preceding pregnancy, where onset of labour occurred spontaneously, or in association with cervical incompetence, or following preterm prelabour ruptured membranes.
Trial Entry & Randomisation: After obtaining written informed consent, eligible women will be randomised between 18 and 23+6 weeks gestation using a central telephone randomisation service. The randomisation schedule prepared by non clinical research staff will use balanced variable blocks, with stratification according to plurality of the pregnancy and centre where planned to give birth. Eligible women will be randomised to either vaginal progesterone or vaginal placebo.
Study Medication & Treatment Schedules: Treatment packs will appear identical. Woman, caregivers and research staff will be blinded to treatment allocation.
Primary Study Outcome: Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome (defined by incidence and severity).
Sample Size: of 984 women to show a 40% reduction in respiratory distress syndrome from 15% to 9% (p = 0.05, 80% power).
Discussion
This is a protocol for a randomised trial.
Clinical Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN20269066
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-6
PMCID: PMC2653463  PMID: 19239712
7.  Costs and consequences of treatment for mild gestational diabetes mellitus – evaluation from the ACHOIS randomised trial 
Background
Recommended best practice is that economic evaluation of health care interventions should be integral with randomised clinical trials. We performed a cost-consequence analysis of treating women with mild gestational diabetes mellitus by dietary advice, blood glucose monitoring and insulin therapy as needed compared with routine pregnancy care, using patient-level data from a multi-centre randomised clinical trial.
Methods
Women with a singleton pregnancy who had mild gestational diabetes diagnosed by an oral glucose-tolerance test between 24 and 34 weeks' gestation and their infants were included. Clinical outcomes and outpatient costs derived from all women and infants in the trial. Inpatient costs derived from women and infants attending the hospital contributing the largest number of enrolments (26.1%), and charges to women and their families derived from a subsample of participants from that hospital (in 2002 Australian dollars). Occasions of service and health outcomes were adjusted for maternal age, ethnicity and parity. Analysis of variance was used with bootstrapping to confirm results. Primary clinical outcomes were serious perinatal complications; admission to neonatal nursery; jaundice requiring phototherapy; induction of labour and caesarean delivery. Economic outcome measures were outpatient and inpatient costs, and charges to women and their families.
Results
For every 100 women with a singleton pregnancy and positive oral glucose tolerance test who were offered treatment for mild gestational diabetes mellitus in addition to routine obstetric care, $53,985 additional direct costs were incurred at the obstetric hospital, $6,521 additional charges were incurred by women and their families, 9.7 additional women experienced induction of labour, and 8.6 more babies were admitted to a neonatal nursery. However, 2.2 fewer babies experienced serious perinatal complication and 1.0 fewer babies experienced perinatal death. The incremental cost per additional serious perinatal complication prevented was $27,503, per perinatal death prevented was $60,506 and per discounted life-year gained was $2,988.
Conclusion
It is likely that the general public in high-income countries such as Australia would find reductions in perinatal mortality and in serious perinatal complications sufficient to justify additional health service and personal monetary charges. Over the whole lifespan, the incremental cost per extra life-year gained is highly favourable.
Trial Registration
Australian Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12606000294550
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-27
PMCID: PMC2241640  PMID: 17963528
8.  Birth after caesarean study – planned vaginal birth or planned elective repeat caesarean for women at term with a single previous caesarean birth: protocol for a patient preference study and randomised trial 
Background
For women who have a caesarean section in their preceding pregnancy, two care policies for birth are considered standard: planned vaginal birth and planned elective repeat caesarean. Currently available information about the benefits and harms of both forms of care are derived from retrospective and prospective cohort studies. There have been no randomised trials, and recognising the deficiencies in the literature, there have been calls for methodologically rigorous studies to assess maternal and infant health outcomes associated with both care policies.
The aims of our study are to assess in women with a previous caesarean birth, who are eligible in the subsequent pregnancy for a vaginal birth, whether a policy of planned vaginal birth after caesarean compared with a policy of planned repeat caesarean affects the risk of serious complications for the woman and her infant.
Methods/Design
Design: Multicentred patient preference study and a randomised clinical trial.
Inclusion Criteria: Women with a single prior caesarean presenting in their next pregnancy with a single, live fetus in cephalic presentation, who have reached 37 weeks gestation, and who do not have a contraindication to a planned VBAC.
Trial Entry & Randomisation: Eligible women will be given an information sheet during pregnancy, and will be recruited to the study from 37 weeks gestation after an obstetrician has confirmed eligibility for a planned vaginal birth. Written informed consent will be obtained. Women who consent to the patient preference study will be allocated their preference for either planned VBAC or planned, elective repeat caesarean. Women who consent to the randomised trial will be randomly allocated to either the planned vaginal birth after caesarean or planned elective repeat caesarean group.
Treatment Groups: Women in the planned vaginal birth group will await spontaneous onset of labour whilst appropriate. Women in the elective repeat caesarean group will have this scheduled for between 38 and 40 weeks.
Primary Study Outcome: Serious adverse infant outcome (death or serious morbidity).
Sample Size: 2314 women in the patient preference study to show a difference in adverse neonatal outcome from 1.6% to 3.6% (p = 0.05, 80% power).
Clinical Trial Registration
ISCTRN5397431
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-17
PMCID: PMC1988834  PMID: 17697343
9.  Polymorphisms in immunoregulatory genes and the risk of histologic chorioamnionitis in Caucasoid women: a case control study 
Background
Chorioamnionitis is a common underlying cause of preterm birth (PTB). It is hypothesised that polymorphisms in immunoregulatory genes influence the host response to infection and subsequent preterm birth. The relationship between histologic chorioamnionitis and 22 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 11 immunoregulatory genes was examined in a case-control study.
Methods
Placentas of 181 Caucasoid women with spontaneous PTB prior to 35 weeks were examined for histologic chorioamnionitis. Polymorphisms in genes IL1A, IL1B, IL1RN, IL1R1, tumour necrosis factor (TNF), IL4, IL6, IL10, transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGFB1), Fas (TNFRSF6), and mannose-binding lectin (MBL2) were genotyped by polymerase chain reaction and sequence specific primers. Multivariable logistic regression including demographic and genetic variables and Kaplan-Meier survival analyses of genotype frequencies and pregnancy outcome were performed.
Results
Sixty-nine (34%) women had histologic evidence of acute chorioamnionitis. Carriage of the IL10-1082A/-819T/592A (ATA) haplotype [Multivariable Odds ratio (MOR) 1.9, P = 0.05] and MBL2 codon 54Asp allele (MOR 2.0, P = 0.04), were positively associated with chorioamnionitis, while the TNFRSF6-1377A/-670G (AG) haplotype (MOR 0.4, P = 0.03) and homozygosity for TGFB1-800G/509T (GT) haplotype (MOR 0.2, P = 0.04) were negatively associated.
Conclusion
These findings demonstrate that polymorphisms in immunoregulatory genes IL10, MBL2, TNFRSF6 and TGFB1 may influence susceptibility to chorioamnionitis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-5-4
PMCID: PMC554771  PMID: 15723707

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