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1.  Global report on preterm birth and stillbirth (2 of 7): discovery science 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2010;10(Suppl 1):S2.
Background
Normal and abnormal processes of pregnancy and childbirth are poorly understood. This second article in a global report explains what is known about the etiologies of preterm births and stillbirths and identifies critical gaps in knowledge. Two important concepts emerge: the continuum of pregnancy, beginning at implantation and ending with uterine involution following birth; and the multifactorial etiologies of preterm birth and stillbirth. Improved tools and data will enable discovery scientists to identify causal pathways and cost-effective interventions.
Pregnancy and parturition continuum
The biological process of pregnancy and childbirth begins with implantation and, after birth, ends with the return of the uterus to its previous state. The majority of pregnancy is characterized by rapid uterine and fetal growth without contractions. Yet most research has addressed only uterine stimulation (labor) that accounts for <0.5% of pregnancy.
Etiologies
The etiologies of preterm birth and stillbirth differ by gestational age, genetics, and environmental factors. Approximately 30% of all preterm births are indicated for either maternal or fetal complications, such as maternal illness or fetal growth restriction. Commonly recognized pathways leading to preterm birth occur most often during the gestational ages indicated: (1) inflammation caused by infection (22-32 weeks); (2) decidual hemorrhage caused by uteroplacental thrombosis (early or late preterm birth); (3) stress (32-36 weeks); and (4) uterine overdistention, often caused by multiple fetuses (32-36 weeks). Other contributors include cervical insufficiency, smoking, and systemic infections. Many stillbirths have similar causes and mechanisms. About two-thirds of late fetal deaths occur during the antepartum period; the other third occur during childbirth. Intrapartum asphyxia is a leading cause of stillbirths in low- and middle-income countries.
Recommendations
Utilizing new systems biology tools, opportunities now exist for researchers to investigate various pathways important to normal and abnormal pregnancies. Improved access to quality data and biological specimens are critical to advancing discovery science. Phenotypes, standardized definitions, and uniform criteria for assessing preterm birth and stillbirth outcomes are other immediate research needs.
Conclusion
Preterm birth and stillbirth have multifactorial etiologies. More resources must be directed toward accelerating our understanding of these complex processes, and identifying upstream and cost-effective solutions that will improve these pregnancy outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-S1-S2
PMCID: PMC2841774  PMID: 20233383
2.  Global report on preterm birth and stillbirth (3 of 7): evidence for effectiveness of interventions 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2010;10(Suppl 1):S3.
Introduction
Interventions directed toward mothers before and during pregnancy and childbirth may help reduce preterm births and stillbirths. Survival of preterm newborns may also be improved with interventions given during these times or soon after birth. This comprehensive review assesses existing interventions for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Methods
Approximately 2,000 intervention studies were systematically evaluated through December 31, 2008. They addressed preterm birth or low birth weight; stillbirth or perinatal mortality; and management of preterm newborns. Out of 82 identified interventions, 49 were relevant to LMICs and had reasonable amounts of evidence, and therefore selected for in-depth reviews. Each was classified and assessed by the quality of available evidence and its potential to treat or prevent preterm birth and stillbirth. Impacts on other maternal, fetal, newborn or child health outcomes were also considered. Assessments were based on an adaptation of the Grades of Recommendation Assessment, Development and Evaluation criteria.
Results
Most interventions require additional research to improve the quality of evidence. Others had little evidence of benefit and should be discontinued. The following are supported by moderate- to high-quality evidence and strongly recommended for LMICs:
• Two interventions prevent preterm births—smoking cessation and progesterone
• Eight interventions prevent stillbirths—balanced protein energy supplementation, screening and treatment of syphilis, intermittant presumptive treatment for malaria during pregnancy, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, birth preparedness, emergency obstetric care, cesarean section for breech presentation, and elective induction for post-term delivery
• Eleven interventions improve survival of preterm newborns—prophylactic steroids in preterm labor, antibiotics for PROM, vitamin K supplementation at delivery, case management of neonatal sepsis and pneumonia, delayed cord clamping, room air (vs. 100% oxygen) for resuscitation, hospital-based kangaroo mother care, early breastfeeding, thermal care, and surfactant therapy and application of continued distending pressure to the lungs for respiratory distress syndrome
Conclusion
The research paradigm for discovery science and intervention development must be balanced to address prevention as well as improve morbidity and mortality in all settings. This review also reveals significant gaps in current knowledge of interventions spanning the continuum of maternal and fetal outcomes, and the critical need to generate further high-quality evidence for promising interventions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-S1-S3
PMCID: PMC2841444  PMID: 20233384
3.  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
4.  Male partner attendance of skilled antenatal care in peri-urban Gulu district, Northern Uganda 
Background
Male partner attendance of skilled Antenatal Care (ANC) is beneficial to improving maternal outcomes. This study investigated the level, perceived benefits and factors associated with male partner attendance of skilled ANC in a peri-urban community recovering from two decades of civil conflict.
Methods
This cross-sectional survey used multi-stage sampling in 12 villages of Omoro county to select 331 married male respondents aged 18 years or more, whose female spouses had childbirth within 24 months prior to the survey. A structured questionnaire elicited responses about male partner attendance of ANC during pregnancy at a public health facility as the main outcome variable. Analysis used Generalized Linear Model (GLM) in Stata version 10.0 to obtain Prevalence Risk Ratios (PRR) for association between the binary outcome and independent factors. All factors significant at p < 0.15 and potential confounders were included in the multivariable model.
Results
Overall, 65.4% (95%CI; 60.3, 70.5) male partners attended at least one skilled ANC visit. Mean age was 31.9 years [SD 8.2]. Perceived benefits of attending ANC were: HIV screening (74.5%), monitoring foetal growth (34%) and identifying complications during pregnancy (18.9%). Factors independently associated with higher ANC attendance were: knowledge of 3 or more ANC services (adj.PRR 2.77; 95%CI 2.24, 3.42), obtaining health information from facility health workers (adj.PRR 1.14; 95%CI 1.01, 1.29) and if spouse had skilled attendance at last childbirth (adj.PRR 1.31; 95%CI 1.04-1.64). However, factors for low attendance were: male partners intending their spouse to carry another pregnancy (adj.PRR 0.83; 95%CI 0.71, 0.97) and living more than 5 Km from a health facility (adj.PRR 0.83, 95%CI 0.70, 0.98).
Conclusions
Men who were knowledgeable of ANC services, obtained health information from a health worker and whose spouses utilised skilled delivery at last pregnancy were more likely to accompany their spouses at ANC, unlike those who wanted to have more children and lived more than 5 km from the health facility. These findings suggest that empowering male partners with knowledge about ANC services may increase their ANC participation and in turn increase skilled delivery. This strategy may improve maternal health care in post conflict and resource-limited settings.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-53
PMCID: PMC2946269  PMID: 20846369
5.  The role of mothers-in-law in antenatal care decision-making in Nepal: a qualitative study 
Background
Antenatal care (ANC) has been recognised as a way to improve health outcomes for pregnant women and their babies. However, only 29% of pregnant women receive the recommended four antenatal visits in Nepal but reasons for such low utilisation are poorly understood. As in many countries of South Asia, mothers-in-law play a crucial role in the decisions around accessing health care facilities and providers. This paper aims to explore the mother-in-law's role in (a) her daughter-in-law's ANC uptake; and (b) the decision-making process about using ANC services in Nepal.
Methods
In-depth interviews were conducted with 30 purposively selected antenatal or postnatal mothers (half users, half non-users of ANC), 10 husbands and 10 mothers-in-law in two different (urban and rural) communities.
Results
Our findings suggest that mothers-in-law sometime have a positive influence, for example when encouraging women to seek ANC, but more often it is negative. Like many rural women of their generation, all mothers-in-law in this study were illiterate and most had not used ANC themselves. The main factors leading mothers-in-law not to support/encourage ANC check ups were expectations regarding pregnant women fulfilling their household duties, perceptions that ANC was not beneficial based largely on their own past experiences, the scarcity of resources under their control and power relations between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Individual knowledge and social class of the mothers-in-law of users and non-users differed significantly, which is likely to have had an effect on their perceptions of the benefits of ANC.
Conclusion
Mothers-in-law have a strong influence on the uptake of ANC in Nepal. Understanding their role is important if we are to design and target effective community-based health promotion interventions. Health promotion and educational interventions to improve the use of ANC should target women, husbands and family members, particularly mothers-in-law where they control access to family resources.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-34
PMCID: PMC2910658  PMID: 20594340
6.  Costs of vaginal delivery and Caesarean section at a tertiary level public hospital in Islamabad, Pakistan 
Background
Public hospitals in developing countries, rather than the preventive and primary healthcare sectors, are the major consumers of healthcare resources. Imbalances in rational, equitable and efficient allocation of scarce resources lie in the scarcity of research & information on economic aspects of health care. The objective of this study was to determine the average cost of a spontaneous vaginal delivery and Caesarean section in a tertiary level government hospital in Islamabad, Pakistan and to estimate the out of pocket expenditures to households using these services.
Methods
This hospital based cost accounting cross sectional study determines the average cost of vaginal delivery and Caesarean section from two perspectives, the patient's and the hospital. From the patient's perspective direct and indirect expenditures of 133 post-partum mothers (65 delivered by Caesarean section & 68 by spontaneous vaginal delivery) admitted in the maternity general ward were determined. From the hospital perspective the step down methodology was adopted, capital and recurrent costs were determined from inputs and cost centers.
Results
The average cost for a spontaneous vaginal delivery from the hospital's side was 40 US$ (2688 rupees) and from the patient's perspective was 79 US$ (5278 rupees). The average cost for a Caesarean section from the hospital side was 162 US$ (10868 rupees) and 204 US$ (13678 rupees) from the patient's side. Average monthly household income was 141 ± 87 US$ for spontaneous vaginal delivery and 168 ± 97 US$ for Caesarean section. Three fourth (74%) of households had a monthly income of less than 149 US$ (10000 rupees).
Conclusion
The apparently "free" maternity care at government hospitals involves substantial hidden and unpredicted costs. The anticipated fear of these unpredicted costs may be major factor for many poor households to seek cheaper alternate maternity healthcare.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-2
PMCID: PMC2826286  PMID: 20085662
7.  Childbirth experience questionnaire (CEQ): development and evaluation of a multidimensional instrument 
Background
Negative experiences of first childbirth increase risks for maternal postpartum depression and may negatively affect mothers' attitudes toward future pregnancies and choice of delivery method. Postpartum questionnaires assessing mothers' childbirth experiences are needed to aid in identifying mothers in need of support and counselling and in isolating areas of labour and birth management and care potentially in need of improvement. The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate a questionnaire for assessing different aspects of first-time mothers' childbirth experiences.
Methods
Childbirth domains were derived from literature searches, discussions with experienced midwives and interviews with first-time mothers. A draft version of the Childbirth Experience Questionnaire (CEQ) was pilot tested for face validity among 25 primiparous women. The revised questionnaire was mailed one month postpartum to 1177 primiparous women with a normal pregnancy and spontaneous onset of active labor and 920 returned evaluable questionnaires. Exploratory factor analysis using principal components analysis and promax rotation was performed to identify dimensions of the childbirth experience. Multitrait scaling analysis was performed to test scaling assumptions and reliability of scales. Discriminant validity was assessed by comparing scores from subgroups known to differ in childbirth experiences.
Results
Factor analysis of the 22 item questionnaire yielded four factors accounting for 54% of the variance. The dimensions were labelled Own capacity, Professional support, Perceived safety, and Participation. Multitrait scaling analysis confirmed the fit of the four-dimensional model and scaling success was achieved in all four sub-scales. The questionnaire showed good sensitivity with dimensions discriminating well between groups hypothesized to differ in experience of childbirth.
Conclusion
The CEQ measures important dimensions of the first childbirth experience and may be used to measure different aspects of maternal satisfaction with labour and birth.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-81
PMCID: PMC3008689  PMID: 21143961
8.  Antenatal counseling in maternal and newborn care: use of job aids to improve health worker performance and maternal understanding in Benin 
Background
Antenatal care provides an important opportunity to improve maternal understanding of care during and after pregnancy. Yet, studies suggest that communication is often insufficient. This research examined the effect of a job aids-focused intervention on quality of counseling and maternal understanding of care for mothers and newborns.
Methods
Counseling job aids were developed to support provider communication to pregnant women. Fourteen health facilities were randomized to control or intervention, where providers were trained to use job aids and provided implementation support. Direct observation of antenatal counseling sessions and patient exit interviews were undertaken to assess quality of counseling and maternal knowledge. Providers were also interviewed regarding their perceptions of the tools. Data were collected before and after the job aids intervention and analyzed using a difference-in-differences analysis to quantify relative changes over time.
Results
Mean percent of recommended messages provided to pregnant women significantly improved in the intervention arm as compared to the control arm in birth preparedness (difference-in-differences [ΔI-C] = +17.9, 95%CI: 6.7,29.1), danger sign recognition (ΔI-C = +26.0, 95%CI: 14.6,37.4), clean delivery (ΔI-C = +21.7, 95%CI: 10.9,32.6), and newborn care (ΔI-C = +26.2, 95%CI: 13.5,38.9). Significant gains were also observed in the mean percent of communication techniques applied (ΔI-C = +28.8, 95%CI: 22.5,35.2) and duration (minutes) of antenatal consultations (ΔI-C = +5.9, 95%CI: 3.0,8.8). No relative increase was found for messages relating to general prenatal care (ΔI-C = +8.2, 95%CI: -2.6,19.1). The proportion of pregnant women with correct knowledge also significantly improved for birth preparedness (ΔI-C = +23.6, 95%CI: 9.8,37.4), danger sign recognition (ΔI-C = +28.7, 95%CI: 14.2,43.2), and clean delivery (ΔI-C = +31.1, 95%CI: 19.4,42.9). There were no significant changes in maternal knowledge of general prenatal (ΔI-C = -6.4, 95%CI: -21.3,8.5) or newborn care (ΔI-C = +12.7, 95%CI: -6.1,31.5). Job aids were positively perceived by providers and pregnant women, although time constraints remained for health workers with other clinical responsibilities.
Conclusions
This study demonstrates that a job aids-focused intervention can be integrated into routine antenatal care with positive outcomes on provider communication and maternal knowledge. Efforts are needed to address time constraints and other communication barriers, including introduction of on-going quality assessment for long-term sustainability.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-75
PMCID: PMC3002891  PMID: 21092183
9.  Obstetric near-miss and maternal mortality in maternity university hospital, Damascus, Syria: a retrospective study 
Background
Investigating severe maternal morbidity (near-miss) is a newly recognised tool that identifies women at highest risk of maternal death and helps allocate resources especially in low income countries. This study aims to i. document the frequency and nature of maternal near-miss at hospital level in Damascus, Capital of Syria, ii. evaluate the level of care at maternal life-saving emergency services by comparatively analysing near-misses and maternal mortalities.
Methods
Retrospective facility-based review of cases of near-miss and maternal mortality that took place in the years 2006-2007 at Damascus Maternity University Hospital, Syria. Near-miss cases were defined based on disease-specific criteria (Filippi 2005) including: haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, dystocia, infection and anaemia. Main outcomes included maternal mortality ratio (MMR), maternal near miss ratio (MNMR), mortality indices and proportion of near-miss cases and mortality cases to hospital admissions.
Results
There were 28 025 deliveries, 15 maternal deaths and 901 near-miss cases. The study showed a MNMR of 32.9/1000 live births, a MMR of 54.8/100 000 live births and a relatively low mortality index of 1.7%. Hypertensive disorders (52%) and haemorrhage (34%) were the top causes of near-misses. Late pregnancy haemorrhage was the leading cause of maternal mortality (60%) while sepsis had the highest mortality index (7.4%). Most cases (93%) were referred in critical conditions from other facilities; namely traditional birth attendants homes (67%), primary (5%) and secondary (10%) healthcare unites and private practices (11%). 26% of near-miss cases were admitted to Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Conclusion
Near-miss analyses provide valuable information on obstetric care. The study highlights the need to improve antenatal care which would help early identification of high risk pregnancies. It also emphasises the importance of both: developing protocols to prevent/manage post-partum haemorrhage and training health care professionals to manage infrequent but fatal conditions like sepsis. An urgent review of the referral system and the emergency obstetric care in Syria is highly recommended.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-65
PMCID: PMC2973846  PMID: 20959012
10.  The risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes in women who are overweight or obese 
Background
The prevalence of obesity amongst women bearing children in Australia is rising and has important implications for obstetric care. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence and impact of mothers being overweight and obese in early to mid-pregnancy on maternal, peripartum and neonatal outcomes.
Methods
A secondary analysis was performed on data collected from nulliparous women with a singleton pregnancy enrolled in the Australian Collaborative Trial of Supplements with antioxidants Vitamin C and Vitamin E to pregnant women for the prevention of pre-eclampsia (ACTS). Women were categorized into three groups according to their body mass index (BMI): normal (BMI 18.5-24.9 kg/m2); overweight (BMI 25-29.9 kg/m2) and; obese (BMI 30-34.9 kg/m2). Obstetric and perinatal outcomes were compared by univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results
Of the 1661 women included, 43% were overweight or obese. Obese women were at increased risk of pre-eclampsia (relative risk (RR) 2.99 [95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.88, 4.73], p < 0.0001) and gestational diabetes (RR 2.10 [95%CI 1.17, 3.79], p = 0.01) compared with women with a normal BMI. Obese and overweight women were more likely to be induced and require a caesarean section compared with women of normal BMI (induction - RR 1.33 [95%CI 1.13, 1.57], p = 0.001 and 1.78 [95%CI 1.51, 2.09], p < 0.0001, caesarean section - RR 1.42 [95%CI 1.18, 1.70], p = 0.0002 and 1.63 [95%CI 1.34, 1.99], p < 0.0001). Babies of women who were obese were more likely to be large for gestational age (LFGA) (RR 2.08 [95%CI 1.47, 2.93], p < 0.0001) and macrosomic (RR 4.54 [95%CI 2.01, 10.24], p = 0.0003) compared with those of women with a normal BMI.
Conclusion
The rate of overweight and obesity is increasing amongst the Australian obstetric population. Women who are overweight and obese have an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. In particular, obese women are at increased risk of gestational diabetes, pregnancy induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia. Effective preventative strategies are urgently needed.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN00416244
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-56
PMCID: PMC2949787  PMID: 20849609
11.  Why do some women still prefer traditional birth attendants and home delivery?: a qualitative study on delivery care services in West Java Province, Indonesia 
Background
Trained birth attendants at delivery are important for preventing both maternal and newborn deaths. West Java is one of the provinces on Java Island, Indonesia, where many women still deliver at home and without the assistance of trained birth attendants. This study aims to explore the perspectives of community members and health workers about the use of delivery care services in six villages of West Java Province.
Methods
A qualitative study using focus group discussions (FGDs) and in-depth interviews was conducted in six villages of three districts in West Java Province from March to July 2009. Twenty FGDs and 165 in-depth interviews were conducted involving a total of 295 participants representing mothers, fathers, health care providers, traditional birth attendants and community leaders. The FGD and in-depth interview guidelines included reasons for using a trained or a traditional birth attendant and reasons for having a home or an institutional delivery.
Results
The use of traditional birth attendants and home delivery were preferable for some community members despite the availability of the village midwife in the village. Physical distance and financial limitations were two major constraints that prevented community members from accessing and using trained attendants and institutional deliveries. A number of respondents reported that trained delivery attendants or an institutional delivery were only aimed at women who experienced obstetric complications. The limited availability of health care providers was reported by residents in remote areas. In these settings the village midwife, who was sometimes the only health care provider, frequently travelled out of the village. The community perceived the role of both village midwives and traditional birth attendants as essential for providing maternal and health care services.
Conclusions
A comprehensive strategy to increase the availability, accessibility, and affordability of delivery care services should be considered in these West Java areas. Health education strategies are required to increase community awareness about the importance of health services along with the existing financing mechanisms for the poor communities. Public health strategies involving traditional birth attendants will be beneficial particularly in remote areas where their services are highly utilized.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-43
PMCID: PMC2928756  PMID: 20701762
12.  Facilitators and barriers in the humanization of childbirth practice in Japan 
Background
Humanizing birth means considering women's values, beliefs, and feelings and respecting their dignity and autonomy during the birthing process. Reducing over-medicalized childbirths, empowering women and the use of evidence-based maternity practice are strategies that promote humanized birth. Nevertheless, the territory of birth and its socio-cultural values and beliefs concerning child bearing can deeply affect birthing practices. The present study aims to explore the Japanese child birthing experience in different birth settings where the humanization of childbirth has been indentified among the priority goals of the institutions concerned, and also to explore the obstacles and facilitators encountered in the practice of humanized birth in those centres.
Methods
A qualitative field research design was used in this study. Forty four individuals and nine institutions were recruited. Data was collected through observation, field notes, focus groups, informal and semi-structured interviews. A qualitative content analysis was performed.
Results
All the settings had implemented strategies aimed at reducing caesarean sections, and keeping childbirth as natural as possible. The barriers and facilitators encountered in the practice of humanized birth were categorized into four main groups: rules and strategies, physical structure, contingency factors, and individual factors. The most important barriers identified in humanized birth care were the institutional rules and strategies that restricted the presence of a birth companion. The main facilitators were women's own cultural values and beliefs in a natural birth, and institutional strategies designed to prevent unnecessary medical interventions.
Conclusions
The Japanese birthing institutions which have identified as part of their mission to instate humanized birth have, as a whole, been successful in improving care. However, barriers remain to achieving the ultimate goal. Importantly, the cultural values and beliefs of Japanese women regarding natural birth is an important factor promoting the humanization of childbirth in Japan.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-25
PMCID: PMC2889847  PMID: 20507588
13.  Poor newborn care practices - a population based survey in eastern Uganda 
Background
Four million neonatal deaths are estimated to occur each year and almost all in low income countries, especially among the poorest. There is a paucity of data on newborn health from sub-Saharan Africa and few studies have assessed inequity in uptake of newborn care practices. We assessed socioeconomic differences in use of newborn care practices in order to inform policy and programming in Uganda.
Methods
All mothers with infants aged 1-4 months (n = 414) in a Demographic Surveillance Site were interviewed. Households were stratified into quintiles of socioeconomic status (SES). Three composite outcomes (good neonatal feeding, good cord care, and optimal thermal care) were created by combining related individual practices from a list of twelve antenatal/essential newborn care practices. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to identify determinants of each dichotomised composite outcome.
Results
There were low levels of coverage of newborn care practices among both the poorest and the least poor. SES and place of birth were not associated with any of the composite newborn care practices. Of newborns, 46% had a facility delivery and only 38% were judged to have had good cord care, 42% optimal thermal care, and 57% were considered to have had adequate neonatal feeding. Mothers were putting powder on the cord; using a bottle to feed the baby; and mixing/replacing breast milk with various substitutes. Multiparous mothers were less likely to have safe cord practices (OR 0.5, CI 0.3 - 0.9) as were mothers whose labour began at night (OR 0.6, CI 0.4 - 0.9).
Conclusion
Newborn care practices in this setting are low and do not differ much by socioeconomic group. Despite being established policy, most neonatal interventions are not reaching newborns, suggesting a "policy-to-practice gap". To improve newborn survival, newborn care should be integrated into the current maternal and child interventions, and should be implemented at both community and health facility level as part of a universal coverage strategy.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-9
PMCID: PMC2834614  PMID: 20178626
14.  Global report on preterm birth and stillbirth (1 of 7): definitions, description of the burden and opportunities to improve data 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2010;10(Suppl 1):S1.
Introduction
This is the first of seven articles from a preterm birth and stillbirth report. Presented here is an overview of the burden, an assessment of the quality of current estimates, review of trends, and recommendations to improve data.
Preterm birth
Few countries have reliable national preterm birth prevalence data. Globally, an estimated 13 million babies are born before 37 completed weeks of gestation annually. Rates are generally highest in low- and middle-income countries, and increasing in some middle- and high-income countries, particularly the Americas. Preterm birth is the leading direct cause of neonatal death (27%); more than one million preterm newborns die annually. Preterm birth is also the dominant risk factor for neonatal mortality, particularly for deaths due to infections. Long-term impairment is an increasing issue.
Stillbirth
Stillbirths are currently not included in Millennium Development Goal tracking and remain invisible in global policies. For international comparisons, stillbirths include late fetal deaths weighing more than 1000g or occurring after 28 weeks gestation. Only about 2% of all stillbirths are counted through vital registration and global estimates are based on household surveys or modelling. Two global estimation exercises reached a similar estimate of around three million annually; 99% occur in low- and middle-income countries. One million stillbirths occur during birth. Global stillbirth cause-of-death estimates are impeded by multiple, complex classification systems.
Recommendations to improve data
(1) increase the capture and quality of pregnancy outcome data through household surveys, the main data source for countries with 75% of the global burden; (2) increase compliance with standard definitions of gestational age and stillbirth in routine data collection systems; (3) strengthen existing data collection mechanisms—especially vital registration and facility data—by instituting a standard death certificate for stillbirth and neonatal death linked to revised International Classification of Diseases coding; (4) validate a simple, standardized classification system for stillbirth cause-of-death; and (5) improve systems and tools to capture acute morbidity and long-term impairment outcomes following preterm birth.
Conclusion
Lack of adequate data hampers visibility, effective policies, and research. Immediate opportunities exist to improve data tracking and reduce the burden of preterm birth and stillbirth.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-S1-S1
PMCID: PMC2841772  PMID: 20233382
15.  All Our Babies Cohort Study: recruitment of a cohort to predict women at risk of preterm birth through the examination of gene expression profiles and the environment 
Background
Preterm birth is the leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality. Risk factors for preterm birth include a personal or familial history of preterm delivery, ethnicity and low socioeconomic status yet the ability to predict preterm delivery before the onset of preterm labour evades clinical practice. Evidence suggests that genetics may play a role in the multi-factorial pathophysiology of preterm birth. The All Our Babies Study is an on-going community based longitudinal cohort study that was designed to establish a cohort of women to investigate how a women's genetics and environment contribute to the pathophysiology of preterm birth. Specifically this study will examine the predictive potential of maternal leukocytes for predicting preterm birth in non-labouring women through the examination of gene expression profiles and gene-environment interactions.
Methods/Design
Collaborations have been established between clinical lab services, the provincial health service provider and researchers to create an interdisciplinary study design for the All Our Babies Study. A birth cohort of 2000 women has been established to address this research question. Women provide informed consent for blood sample collection, linkage to medical records and complete questionnaires related to prenatal health, service utilization, social support, emotional and physical health, demographics, and breast and infant feeding. Maternal blood samples are collected in PAXgene™ RNA tubes between 18-22 and 28-32 weeks gestation for transcriptomic analyses.
Discussion
The All Our Babies Study is an example of how investment in clinical-academic-community partnerships can improve research efficiency and accelerate the recruitment and data collection phases of a study. Establishing these partnerships during the study design phase and maintaining these relationships through the duration of the study provides the unique opportunity to investigate the multi-causal factors of preterm birth. The overall All Our Babies Study results can potentially lead to healthier pregnancies, mothers, infants and children.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-87
PMCID: PMC3022739  PMID: 21192811
16.  Racial disparities in infant mortality: what has birth weight got to do with it and how large is it? 
Background
It has been hypothesized that birth weight is not on the causal pathway to infant mortality, at least among "normal" births (i.e. those located in the central part of the birth weight distribution), and that US racial disparities (African American versus European American) may be underestimated. Here these hypotheses are tested by examining the role of birth weight on racial disparities in infant mortality.
Methods
A two-component Covariate Density Defined mixture of logistic regressions model is used to decompose racial disparities, 1) into disparities due to "normal" versus "compromised" components of the birth cohort, and 2) further decompose these components into indirect effects, which are associated with birth weight, versus direct effects, which are independent of birth weight.
Results
The results indicate that a direct effect is responsible for the racial disparity in mortality among "normal" births. No indirect effect of birth weight is observed despite significant disparities in birth weight. Among "compromised" births, an indirect effect is responsible for the disparity, which is consistent with disparities in birth weight. However, there is also a direct effect among "compromised" births that reduces the racial disparity in mortality. This direct effect is responsible for the "pediatric paradox" and maybe due to differential fetal loss. Model-based adjustment for this effect indicates that racial disparities corrected for fetal loss could be as high as 3 or 4 fold. This estimate is higher than the observed racial disparities in infant mortality (2.1 for both sexes).
Conclusions
The results support the hypothesis that birth weight is not on the causal pathway to infant mortality among "normal" births, although birth weight could play a role among "compromised" births. The overall size of the US racial disparities in infant mortality maybe considerably underestimated in the observed data possibly due to racial disparities in fetal loss.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-86
PMCID: PMC3025864  PMID: 21189146
17.  Self-administered questionnaire versus interview as a screening method for intimate partner violence in the prenatal setting in Japan: A randomised controlled trial 
Background
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious social issue in Japan. In order to start effective interventions for abused women, the appropriate method of screening for IPV in healthcare settings needs clarifying. The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of a face-to-face interview with a self-administered questionnaire. We used the Violence Against Women Screen (VAWS), a Japanese screening instrument for intimate partner violence (IPV), for identifying pregnant women who have experienced abuse.
Methods
We conducted a randomised controlled trial to screen participants at three points in time in a prenatal clinic in Tokyo, Japan. There were 328 consenting women between 14 and 25 weeks of pregnancy who were consecutively selected and randomly assigned to either the interview or self-administered questionnaire group. Both groups completed the same screening instrument three times during their pregnancy. The primary outcome was the total number of women identified by each screening method and the secondary outcome was the effect of the screening as measured by the women's comfort level and their expressed need to consult with the nurse.
Results
For all three screenings, the identification rate in the interview group was significantly lower than that for the self-administered questionnaire group (relative risk 0.66, 95% CI 0.46 to 0.97), even after controlling for smoking (adjusted odds ratio 0.59, 95% CI 0.35 to 0.98). The two groups did not differ for secondary outcomes.
Conclusions
The self-administered questionnaire identified more IPV than the face-to-face interview when screening pregnant women in a Japanese prenatal clinic.
Trial Registration
UMIN-CTRC000000353
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-84
PMCID: PMC3017017  PMID: 21182802
18.  Increased incidence of glucose disorders during pregnancy is not explained by pre-pregnancy obesity in London, Canada 
Background
The increasing incidence of impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), gestational diabetes (GDM) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) during pregnancy was hypothesized to be associated with increases in pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI). The aims were to 1) determine the prevalence of IGT/GDM/T2 D over a 10 year period; 2) examine the relationship between maternal overweight/obesity and IGT/GDM/T2D; and 3) examine the extent to which maternal metabolic complications impact maternal and fetal pregnancy outcomes.
Methods
Data arose from a perinatal database which contains maternal characteristics and perinatal outcome for all singleton infants born in London, Canada between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2009. Univariable and multivariable odds ratios (OR) were estimated using logistic regression with IGT/GDM/T2 D being the outcome of interest.
Results
A total of 36,597 women were included in the analyses. Population incidence of IGT, GDM and T2 D rose from 0.7%, 2.9% and 0.5% in 2000 to 1.2%, 4.2% and 0.9% in 2009. The univariable OR for IGT, GDM and T2 D were 1.65, 1.52 and 2.06, respectively, over the ten year period. After controlling for maternal age, parity and pre-pregnancy BMI the OR did not decrease. Although there was a positive relationship between pre-pregnancy BMI and prevalence of IGT/GDM/T2 D, this did not explain the time trends in the latter. Diagnosis of IGT/GDM/T2 D increased the risk of having an Apgar score <7 at 5 minutes, which was partially explained by gestational hypertension, high placental ratio, gestational age and large for gestational age babies.
Conclusions
We found a significant increase in the incidence of IGT/GDM/T2 D for the decade between 2000-2009 which was not explained by rising prevalence of maternal overweight/obesity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-85
PMCID: PMC3022738  PMID: 21184681
19.  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
20.  Communities, birth attendants and health facilities: a continuum of emergency maternal and newborn care (the global network's EmONC trial) 
Background
Maternal and newborn mortality rates remain unacceptably high, especially where the majority of births occur in home settings or in facilities with inadequate resources. The introduction of emergency obstetric and newborn care services has been proposed by several organizations in order to improve pregnancy outcomes. However, the effectiveness of emergency obstetric and neonatal care services has never been proven. Also unproven is the effectiveness of community mobilization and community birth attendant training to improve pregnancy outcomes.
Methods/Design
We have developed a cluster-randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact of a comprehensive intervention of community mobilization, birth attendant training and improvement of quality of care in health facilities on perinatal mortality in low and middle-income countries where the majority of births take place in homes or first level care facilities. This trial will take place in 106 clusters (300-500 deliveries per year each) across 7 sites of the Global Network for Women's and Children's Health Research in Argentina, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Pakistan and Zambia. The trial intervention has three key elements, community mobilization, home-based life saving skills for communities and birth attendants, and training of providers at obstetric facilities to improve quality of care. The primary outcome of the trial is perinatal mortality. Secondary outcomes include rates of stillbirth, 7-day neonatal mortality, maternal death or severe morbidity (including obstetric fistula, eclampsia and obstetrical sepsis) and 28-day neonatal mortality.
Discussion
In this trial, we are evaluating a combination of interventions including community mobilization and facility training in an attempt to improve pregnancy outcomes. If successful, the results of this trial will provide important information for policy makers and clinicians as they attempt to improve delivery services for pregnant women and newborns in low-income countries.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01073488
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-82
PMCID: PMC3017016  PMID: 21156060
21.  The role of hospital midwives in the Netherlands 
Background
Most midwives in the Netherlands work in primary care where they are the lead professionals providing care to women with 'normal' or uncomplicated pregnancies, while some midwives work in hospitals ("clinical midwives"). The actual involvement of midwives in maternity care in hospitals is unknown, because in all statistics births in secondary care are registered as births assisted by gynaecologists. The aim of this study is to gain insight in the involvement of midwives with births in secondary care, under supervision of a gynaecologist. This is done using data from the PRN (The Netherlands Perinatal Registry), a voluntary registration of births in the Netherlands. The PRN covers 97% to 99% of all births taking place under responsibility of a gynaecologist.
Methods
All births registered in secondary care in the period 1998-2007 (1,102,676, on average 61% of all births) were selected. We analyzed trends in socio-demographic, obstetric and organisational characteristics, associated with the involvement of midwives, using frequency tables and uni- and multivariate logistic regression analyses. As main outcome measure the percentage of births in secondary care with a midwife 'catching' the baby was used.
Results
The proportion of births attended by a midwife in secondary care increased from 8.3% in 1998 to 26.06% in 2007, the largest increase involving spontaneous births of a second or later child, on weekdays during day shifts (8.00-20.00 hr) from younger mothers with a gestational age (almost) at term. After 2002, parallel to the growing numbers of midwives working in hospitals, the percentage of instrumental births decreased.
Conclusions
In 2007 more midwives are assisting with more births in secondary care than in 1998. Hospital-based midwives are primarily involved with uncomplicated births of women with relatively low risk demographical and obstetrical characteristics. However, they are still only involved with half of the less complicated births, indicating that there may be room for more midwives in hospitals to care for women with relatively uncomplicated births. Whether an association exists between the growing involvement of midwives and the decreasing percentage of instrumental births needs further investigation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-80
PMCID: PMC3016258  PMID: 21143883
22.  Breastfeeding attitudes of Finnish parents during pregnancy 
Background
Breastfeeding attitudes are known to influence infant feeding but little information exists on the prenatal breastfeeding attitudes of parents. The purpose of this study was to describe Finnish parents' prenatal breastfeeding attitudes and their relationships with demographic characteristics.
Methods
The electronic Breastfeeding Knowledge, Attitude and Confidence scale was developed and 172 people (123 mothers, 49 fathers) completed the study. The data were analysed using factor analysis and nonparametric methods.
Results
Breastfeeding was regarded as important, but 54% of the respondents wanted both parents to feed the newborn. The mean rank values of breastfeeding attitudes differed significantly when parity, gender, education, age, breastfeeding history and level of breastfeeding knowledge were considered. The respondents who were expecting their first child, were 18-26 years old or had vocational qualifications or moderate breastfeeding knowledge had more negative feelings and were more worried about breastfeeding than respondents who had at least one child, had a higher vocational diploma or academic degree or had high levels of breastfeeding knowledge. Respondents with high levels of breastfeeding knowledge did not appear concerned about equality in feeding.
Conclusions
Both mothers and fathers found breastfeeding important. A father's eagerness to participate in their newborn's life should be included in prenatal breastfeeding counselling and ways in which to support breastfeeding discussed. Relevant information about breastfeeding should focus on the parents who are expecting their first child, those who are young, those with low levels of education or those who have gaps in breastfeeding knowledge, so that fears and negative views can be resolved.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-79
PMCID: PMC3003624  PMID: 21126368
23.  Effects of caesarean section on maternal health in low risk nulliparous women: a prospective matched cohort study in Shanghai, China 
Background
Rates of caesarean section are progressively increasing in many parts of the world. As a result of psychosocial factors there has been an increasing tendency for pregnant women without justifiable medical indications for caesarean section to ask for this procedure in China. A critical examination of this issue in relation to maternal outcomes is important. At present there are no clinical trials to help assess the risks and benefits of caesarean section in low risk women. To fill the gap left by trials, this indication-matched cohort study was carried out to examine prospectively the outcomes of caesarean section on women with no absolute obstetric indication compared with similar women who had vaginal delivery.
Methods
An indication-matched cohort study was undertaken to compare maternal outcomes following caesarean section with those undergoing vaginal delivery, in which the two groups were matched for non-absolute indications. 301 nulliparous women with caesarean section were matched successfully with 301 women who delivered vaginally in the Maternal and Children's Hospitals (MCHs) in Shanghai, China. Logistic regression model or binomial regression model was used to estimate the relative risk (RR) directly. Adjusted RRs were calculated adjusting for propensity score and medical indications.
Results
The incidence of total complications was 2.2 times higher in the caesarean section group during hospitalization post-partum, compared with the vaginal delivery group (RR = 2.2; 95% CI: 1.1-4.4). The risk of haemorrhage from the start of labour until 2 hours post-partum was significantly higher in the caesarean group (RR = 5.6; 95% CI: 1.2-26.9). The risk of chronic abdominal pain was significantly higher for the caesarean section group (RR = 3.6; 95% CI: 1.2-10.9) than for the vaginal delivery group within 12 months post-partum. The two groups had similar incidences of anaemia and complicating infections such as wound complications or urinary tract infection.
Conclusions
In nulliparous women who were at low risk, caesarean section was associated with a higher rate of post-partum morbidity. Those requesting the surgical procedure with no conventional medical indication, should be advised of the potential risks.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-78
PMCID: PMC3014869  PMID: 21122153
24.  Long-Term follow up after intra-Uterine transfusionS; the LOTUS study 
Background
The Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) is the Dutch national referral centre for pregnancies complicated by haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN) caused by maternal alloimmunization. Yearly, 20-25 affected fetuses with severe anaemia are transfused with intra-uterine blood transfusions (IUT). Mothers of whom their fetus has undergone IUT for HDFN are considered high responders with regard to red blood cell (RBC) antibody formation. Most study groups report high perinatal survival, resulting in a shift in attention towards short- and long-term outcome in surviving children.
Methods/Design
We set up a large long-term observational follow-up study (LOTUS study), in cooperation with the Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation and the LUMC departments of Obstetrics, Neonatology and ImmunoHematology & Bloodtransfusion.
The first part of this study addresses several putative mechanisms associated with blood group alloimmunization in these mothers. The second part of this study determines the incidence of long-term neurodevelopment impairment (NDI) and associated risk factors in children treated with IUT. All women and their life offspring who have been treated with IUT for HDFN in the LUMC from 1987-2008 are invited to participate and after consent, blood or saliva samples are taken. RBC and HLA antigen profile and antibodies are determined by serologic or molecular techniques. Microchimerism populations are tested by real time polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR).
All children are tested for their neurological, cognitive and psychosocial development using standardised tests and questionnaires. The primary outcome is neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI), a composite outcome defined as any of the following: cerebral palsy, cognitive or psychomotor development < 2 standard deviation, bilateral blindness and/or bilateral deafness.
Discussion
The LOTUS study includes the largest cohort of IUT patients ever studied and is the first to investigate post-IUT long-term effects in both mother and child. The results may lead to a change in transfusion policy, in particular future avoidance of certain incompatibilities. Additionally the LOTUS study will provide clinicians and parents better insights in the long-term neurodevelopmental outcome in children with HDFN treated with IUTs, and may improve the quality of antenatal counselling and long-term guidance.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-77
PMCID: PMC3003623  PMID: 21122095
25.  Objectively measured physical activity during pregnancy: a study in obese and overweight women 
Background
Obese and overweight women may benefit from increased physical activity (PA) during pregnancy. There is limited published data describing objectively measured PA in such women.
Methods
A longitudinal observational study of PA intensity, type and duration using objective and subjective measurement methods. Fifty five pregnant women with booking body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 kg/m2 were recruited from a hospital ultrasound clinic in North East England. 26 (47%) were nulliparous and 22 (40%) were obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2). PA was measured by accelerometry and self report questionnaire at 13 weeks, 26 weeks and/or 36 weeks gestation. Outcome measures were daily duration of light, moderate or vigorous activity assessed by accelerometry; calculated overall PA energy expenditure, (PAEE), and PAEE within four domains of activity based on self report.
Results
At median 13 weeks gestation, women recorded a median 125 mins/day light activity and 35 mins/day moderate or vigorous activity (MVPA). 65% achieved the minimum recommended 30 mins/day MVPA. This proportion was maintained at 26 weeks (62%) and 36 weeks (71%). Women achieving more than 30 mins/day MVPA in the first trimester showed a significant reduction in duration of MVPA by the third trimester (11 mins/day, p = 0.003). Walking, swimming and floor exercises were the most commonly reported recreational activities but their contribution to estimated energy expenditure was small.
Conclusion
Overweight and obese pregnant women can achieve and maintain recommended levels of PA throughout pregnancy. Interventions to promote PA should target changes in habitual activities at work and at home, and in particular walking.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-76
PMCID: PMC3001702  PMID: 21114834

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