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1.  Antenatal care in The Gambia: Missed opportunity for information, education and communication 
Background
Antenatal care is widely established and provides an opportunity to inform and educate pregnant women about pregnancy, childbirth and care of the newborn. It is expected that this would assist the women in making choices that would contribute to good pregnancy outcome. We examined the provision of information and education in antenatal clinics from the perspective of pregnant women attending these clinics.
Methods
A cross sectional survey of 457 pregnant women attending six urban and six rural antenatal clinics in the largest health division in The Gambia was undertaken. The women were interviewed using modified antenatal client exit interview and antenatal record review questionnaires from the WHO Safe Motherhood Needs Assessment kit. Differences between women attending urban and rural clinics were assessed using the Chi-square test. Relative risks with 95% confidence intervals are presented.
Results
Ninety percent of those interviewed had attended the antenatal clinic more than once and 52% four or more times. Most pregnant women (70.5%) said they spent 3 minutes or less with the antenatal care provider. About 35% recalled they were informed or educated on diet and nutrition, 30.4% on care of the baby, 23.6% on family planning, 22.8% on place of birth and 19.3% on what to do if there was a complication.
About 25% of pregnant women said they were given information about the progress of their pregnancy after consultation and only 12.8% asked their provider any question. Awareness of danger signs was low. The proportions of women that recognised signs of danger were 28.9% for anaemia, 24.6% for hypertension, 14.8% for haemorrhage, 12.9% for fever and 5% for puerperal sepsis. Prolonged labour was not recognised as a danger sign. Women attending rural antenatal clinics were 1.6 times more likely to recognise signs of anaemia and hypertension as indicative of danger compared to women attending urban antenatal clinics.
Conclusion
Information, education and communication during antenatal care in the largest health division are poor. Pregnant women are ill-equipped to make appropriate choices especially when they are in danger. This contributes to the persistence of high maternal mortality ratios in the country.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-9
PMCID: PMC2322944  PMID: 18325122
2.  Cigarette smoking and risk of gestational diabetes: a systematic review of observational studies 
Background
Gestational diabetes is a prevalent disease associated with adverse outcomes of pregnancy. Smoking as been associated with glucose intolerance during pregnancy in some but not all studies. Therefore, we aimed to systematically review all epidemiological evidence to examine the association between cigarette smoking during pregnancy and risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus.
Methods
We conducted a systematic review of articles published up to 2007, using PubMed, Embase, LILACS e CINAHL to identify the articles. Because this review focuses on studies of smoking during pregnancy, we excluded studies evaluating smoking outside pregnancy. Two investigators independently abstracted information on participant's characteristics, assessment of exposure and outcome, and estimates for the association under study. We evaluated the studies for publication bias and performed heterogeneity analyses. We also assessed the effect of each study individually through sensitivity analysis.
Results
We found and critically reviewed 32 studies, of which 12 met the criteria for inclusion in the review. Most of the studies provided only unadjusted measurements. Combining the results of the individual studies, we obtained a crude odds ratio of 1.03 (99% CI 0.85–1.25). Only 4 studies presented adjusted measurements of association, and no association was found when these alone were analyzed (OR 0.95; 99% CI 0.85–1.07). Subgroup analysis could not be done due to small sample size.
Conclusion
The number of studies is small, with major heterogeneity in research design and findings. Taken together, current data do not support an association between cigarette smoking during pregnancy and the risk of gestational diabetes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-53
PMCID: PMC2632653  PMID: 19077324
3.  The difficulties of conducting maternal death reviews in Malawi 
Background
Maternal death reviews is a tool widely recommended to improve the quality of obstetric care and reduce maternal mortality. Our aim was to explore the challenges encountered in the process of facility-based maternal death review in Malawi, and to suggest sustainable and logically sound solutions to these challenges.
Methods
SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of the process of maternal death review during a workshop in Malawi.
Results
Strengths: Availability of data from case notes, support from hospital management, and having maternal death review forms. Weaknesses: fear of blame, lack of knowledge and skills to properly conduct death reviews, inadequate resources and missing documentation. Opportunities: technical assistance from expatriates, support from the Ministry of Health, national protocols and high maternal mortality which serves as motivation factor. Threats: Cultural practices, potential lawsuit, demotivation due to the high maternal mortality and poor planning at the district level. Solutions: proper documentation, conducting maternal death review in a blame-free manner, good leadership, motivation of staff, using guidelines, proper stock inventory and community involvement.
Conclusion
Challenges encountered during facility-based maternal death review are provider-related, administrative, client related and community related. Countries with similar socioeconomic profiles to Malawi will have similar 'pull-and-push' factors on the process of facility-based maternal death reviews, and therefore we will expect these countries to have similar potential solutions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-42
PMCID: PMC2546364  PMID: 18786267
4.  A thematic analysis of factors influencing recruitment to maternal and perinatal trials 
Background
Recruitment of eligible participants remains one of the biggest challenges to successful completion of randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Only one third of trials recruit on time, often requiring a lengthy extension to the recruitment period. We identified factors influencing recruitment success and potentially effective recruitment strategies.
Methods
We searched MEDLINE and EMBASE from 1966 to December Week 2, 2006, the Cochrane Library Methodology Register in December 2006, and hand searched reference lists for studies of any design which focused on recruitment to maternal/perinatal trials, or if no studies of maternal or perinatal research could be identified, other areas of healthcare. Studies of nurses' and midwives' attitudes to research were included as none specifically about trials were located. We synthesised the data narratively, using a basic thematic analysis, with themes derived from the literature and after discussion between the authors.
Results
Around half of the included papers (29/53) were specific to maternal and perinatal healthcare. Only one study was identified which focused on factors for maternal and perinatal clinicians and only seven studies considered recruitment strategies specific to perinatal research. Themes included: participant assessment of risk; recruitment process; participant understanding of research; patient characteristics; clinician attitudes to research and trials; protocol issues; and institutional or organisational issues. While no reliable evidence base for strategies to enhance recruitment was identified in any of the review studies, four maternal/perinatal primary studies suggest that specialised recruitment staff, mass mailings, physician referrals and strategies targeting minority women may increase recruitment. However these findings may only be applicable to the particular trials and settings studied.
Conclusion
Although factors reported by both participants and clinicians which influence recruitment were quite consistent across the included studies, studies comparing different recruitment strategies were largely missing. Trials of different recruitment strategies could be embedded in large multicentre RCTs, with strategies tailored to the factors specific to the trial and institution.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-36
PMCID: PMC2532678  PMID: 18687110
5.  Survey of knowledge and perception on the access to evidence-based practice and clinical practice change among maternal and infant health practitioners in South East Asia 
Background
Evidence-based practice (EBP) can provide appropriate care for women and their babies; however implementation of EBP requires health professionals to have access to knowledge, the ability to interpret health care information and then strategies to apply care. The aim of this survey was to assess current knowledge of evidence-based practice, information seeking practices, perceptions and potential enablers and barriers to clinical practice change among maternal and infant health practitioners in South East Asia.
Methods
Questionnaires about IT access for health information and evidence-based practice were administered during August to December 2005 to health care professionals working at the nine hospitals participating in the South East Asia Optimising Reproductive and Child Health in Developing countries (SEA-ORCHID) project in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and The Philippines.
Results
The survey was completed by 660 staff from six health professional groups. Overall, easy IT access for health care information was available to 46% of participants. However, over a fifth reported no IT access was available and over half of nurses and midwives never used IT health information. Evidence-based practice had been heard of by 58% but the majority did not understand the concept. The most frequent sites accessed were Google and PubMed. The Cochrane Library had been heard of by 47% of whom 51% had access although the majority did not use it or used it less than monthly. Only 27% had heard of the WHO Reproductive Health Library and 35% had been involved in a clinical practice change and were able to identify enablers and barriers to change. Only a third of participants had been actively involved in practice change with wide variation between the countries. Willingness to participate in professional development workshops on evidence-based practice was high.
Conclusion
This survey has identified the need to improve IT access to health care information and health professionals' knowledge of evidence-based health care to assist in employing evidence base practice effectively.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-34
PMCID: PMC2533287  PMID: 18680603
6.  Postpartum consultation: Occurrence, requirements and expectations 
Background
As a matter of routine, midwives in Sweden have spoken with women about their experiences of labour in a so-called 'postpartum consultation'. However, the possibility of offering women this kind of consultation today is reduced due to shortage of both time and resources. The aim of this study was to explore the occurrence, women's requirements of, and experiences of a postpartum consultation, and to identify expectations from women who wanted but did not have a consultation with the midwife assisting during labour.
Methods
All Swedish speaking women who gave birth to a live born child at a University Hospital in western Sweden were consecutively included for a phone interview over a three-week period. An additional phone interview was conducted with the women who did not have a postpartum consultation, but who wanted to talk with the midwife assisting during labour. Data from the interviews were analysed using qualitative content analysis.
Results
Of the 150 interviewed women, 56% (n = 84) had a postpartum consultation of which 61.9% (n = 52) had this with the midwife assisting during labour. Twenty of the 28 women who did not have a consultation with anyone still desired to talk with the midwife assisting during labour. Of these, 19 were interviewed. The content the women wanted to talk about was summarized in four categories: to understand the course of events during labour; to put into words, feelings about undignified management; to describe own behaviour and feelings, and to describe own fear.
Conclusion
The survey shows that the frequency of postpartum consultation is decreasing, that the majority of women who give birth today still require it, but only about half of them receive it. It is crucial to develop a plan for these consultations that meets both the women's needs and the organization within current maternity care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-29
PMCID: PMC2496898  PMID: 18651967
7.  Obstetric near miss and deaths in public and private hospitals in Indonesia 
Background
Falling numbers of maternal deaths have stimulated an interest in investigating cases of life threatening obstetric morbidity or near miss. The purpose of this study was to document the frequency and causes of near miss and maternal deaths in four hospitals in West Java, Indonesia.
Methods
Cross sectional study in four hospitals in two districts in Banten province, Indonesia. We reviewed registers and case notes to identify the numbers and causes of near miss and death between November 2003 and October 2004. Near miss cases were defined based on organ dysfunction, clinical and management criteria. Near miss were categorized by whether or not the woman was at a critical state at admission by reviewing the final signs at admission.
Results
The prevalence of near miss was much greater in public than in private hospitals (17.3% versus 4.2%, p = 0.000). Hemorrhage and hypertensive diseases were the most common diagnoses associated with near miss, and vascular dysfunction was the most common criterion of organ dysfunction. The occurrence of maternal deaths was 1.6%, with non-obstetric complications as the leading cause. The majority (70.7%) of near miss in public hospitals were in a critical state at admission but this proportion was much lower in private hospitals (31.9%).
Conclusion
This is the first study to document near miss in public and private hospitals in Indonesia. Close to a fifth of admissions in public hospitals were associated with near miss; and the critical state in which the women arrived suggest important delays in reaching the hospitals. Even though the private sector takes an increasingly larger share of facility-based births in Indonesia, managing obstetric emergencies remains the domain of the public sector.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-10
PMCID: PMC2311270  PMID: 18366625
8.  Misperceived pre-pregnancy body weight status predicts excessive gestational weight gain: findings from a US cohort study 
Background
Excessive gestational weight gain promotes poor maternal and child health outcomes. Weight misperception is associated with weight gain in non-pregnant women, but no data exist during pregnancy. The purpose of this study was to examine the association of misperceived pre-pregnancy body weight status with excessive gestational weight gain.
Methods
At study enrollment, participants in Project Viva reported weight, height, and perceived body weight status by questionnaire. Our study sample comprised 1537 women who had either normal or overweight/obese pre-pregnancy BMI. We created 2 categories of pre-pregnancy body weight status misperception: normal weight women who identified themselves as overweight ('overassessors') and overweight/obese women who identified themselves as average or underweight ('underassessors'). Women who correctly perceived their body weight status were classified as either normal weight or overweight/obese accurate assessors. We performed multivariable logistic regression to determine the odds of excessive gestational weight gain according to 1990 Institute of Medicine guidelines.
Results
Of the 1029 women with normal pre-pregnancy BMI, 898 (87%) accurately perceived and 131 (13%) overassessed their weight status. 508 women were overweight/obese, of whom 438 (86%) accurately perceived and 70 (14%) underassessed their pre-pregnancy weight status. By the end of pregnancy, 823 women (54%) gained excessively. Compared with normal weight accurate assessors, the adjusted odds of excessive gestational weight gain was 2.0 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.3, 3.0) in normal weight overassessors, 2.9 (95% CI: 2.2, 3.9) in overweight/obese accurate assessors, and 7.6 (95% CI: 3.4, 17.0) in overweight/obese underassessors.
Conclusion
Misperceived pre-pregnancy body weight status was associated with excessive gestational weight gain among both normal weight and overweight/obese women, with the greatest likelihood of excessive gain among overweight/obese underassessors. Future interventions should test the potential benefits of correcting misperception to reduce the likelihood of excessive gestational weight gain.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-54
PMCID: PMC2639379  PMID: 19102729
9.  The INIS Study. International Neonatal Immunotherapy Study: non-specific intravenous immunoglobulin therapy for suspected or proven neonatal sepsis: an international, placebo controlled, multicentre randomised trial 
Background
Sepsis is an important cause of neonatal death and perinatal brain damage, particularly in preterm infants. While effective antibiotic treatment is essential treatment for sepsis, resistance to antibiotics is increasing. Adjuvant therapies, such as intravenous immunoglobulin, therefore offer an important additional strategy. Three Cochrane systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials in nearly 6,000 patients suggest that non-specific, polyclonal intravenous immunoglobulin is safe and reduces sepsis by about 15% when used as prophylaxis but does not reduce mortality in this situation. When intravenous immunoglobulin is used in the acute treatment of neonatal sepsis, however, there is a suggestion that it may reduce mortality by 45%. However, the existing trials of treatment were small and lacked long-term follow-up data.
This study will assess reliably whether treatment of neonatal sepsis with intravenous immunoglobulin reduces mortality and adverse neuro-developmental outcome.
Methods and design
A randomised, placebo controlled, double blind trial. Babies with suspected or proven neonatal sepsis will be randomised to receive intravenous immunoglobulin therapy or placebo.
Eligibility criteria
Babies must be receiving antibiotics and have proven or suspected serious infection AND have at least one of the following: birthweight less than 1500 g OR evidence of infection in blood culture, cerebrospinal fluid or usually sterile body fluid OR be receiving respiratory support via an endotracheal tube AND there is substantial uncertainty that intravenous immunoglobulin is indicated.
Exclusion criteria
Babies are excluded if intravenous immunoglobulin has already been given OR intravenous immunoglobulin is thought to be needed OR contra-indicated.
Trial treatment
Babies will be given either 10 ml/kg of intravenous immunoglobulin or identical placebo solution over 4–6 hours, repeated 48 hours later.
Primary outcome
Mortality or major disability at two years, corrected for gestational age.
Data collection
Data will be collected at discharge from hospital and at 2 years of age (corrected for gestation) using a parental questionnaire and a health status questionnaire completed during a face-to-face follow-up appointment with the child's paediatrician.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISCRTN94984750.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-52
PMCID: PMC2626572  PMID: 19063731
10.  Study protocol. A prospective cohort study of unselected primiparous women: the pregnancy outcome prediction study 
Background
There have been dramatic changes in the approach to screening for aneuploidy over the last 20 years. However, the approach to screening for other complications of pregnancy such as intra-uterine growth restriction, pre-eclampsia and stillbirth remains largely unchanged. Randomised controlled trials of routine application of high tech screening methods to the general population have generally failed to show improvement in outcome. We have previously reviewed this and concluded it was due, in large part, to poor performance of screening tests. Here, we report a study design where the primary aim is to generate clinically useful methods to screen women to assess their risk of adverse pregnancy outcome.
Methods/design
We report the design of a prospective cohort study of unselected primiparous women recruited at the time of their first ultrasound scan. Participation involves serial phlebotomy and obstetric ultrasound at the dating ultrasound scan (typically 10–14 weeks), 20 weeks, 28 weeks and 36 weeks gestation. In addition, maternal demographic details are obtained; maternal and paternal height are measured and maternal weight is serially measured during the pregnancy; maternal, paternal and offspring DNA are collected; and, samples of placenta and membranes are collected at birth. Data will be analysed as a prospective cohort study, a case-cohort study, and a nested case-control study.
Discussion
The study is expected to provide a resource for the identification of novel biomarkers for adverse pregnancy outcome and to evaluate the performance of biomarkers and serial ultrasonography in providing clinically useful prediction of risk.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-51
PMCID: PMC2611961  PMID: 19019223
11.  Nomograms of Iranian fetal middle cerebral artery Doppler waveforms and uniformity of their pattern with other populations' nomograms 
Background
Doppler flow velocity waveform analysis of fetal vessels is one of the main methods for evaluating fetus health before labor. Doppler waves of middle cerebral artery (MCA) can predict most of the at risk fetuses in high risk pregnancies. In this study, we tried to obtain normal values and their nomograms during pregnancy for Doppler flow velocity indices of MCA in 20 – 40 weeks of normal pregnancies in Iranian population and compare their pattern with other countries' nomograms.
Methods
During present descriptive cross-sectional study, 1037 normal pregnant women with 20th–40th week gestational age were underwent MCA Doppler study. All cases were studied by gray scale ultrasonography initially and Doppler of MCA afterward. Resistive Index (RI), Pulsative Index (PI), Systolic/Diastolic ratio (S/D ratio), and Peak Systolic Velocity (PSV) values of MCA were determined for all of the subjects.
Results
Results of present study showed that RI, PI, S/D ratio values of MCA decreased with parabolic pattern and PSV value increased with simple pattern, as gestational age progressed. These changes were statistically significant (P = 0.000 for all of indices) and more characteristic during late weeks of pregnancy.
Conclusion
Values of RI, PI and S/D ratio indices reduced toward the end of pregnancy, but PSV increased. Despite the trivial difference, nomograms of various Doppler indices in present study have similar pattern with other studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-50
PMCID: PMC2615738  PMID: 19014497
12.  Women's attitude towards prenatal screening for red blood cell antibodies, other than RhD 
Background
Since July 1998 all Dutch women (± 200,000/y) are screened for red cell antibodies, other than anti-RhesusD (RhD) in the first trimester of pregnancy, to facilitate timely treatment of pregnancies at risk for hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN). Evidence for benefits, consequences and costs of screening for non-RhD antibodies is still under discussion. The screening program was evaluated in a nation-wide study. As a part of this evaluation study we investigated, according to the sixth criterium of Wilson and Jüngner, the acceptance by pregnant women of the screening program for non-RhD antibodies.
Methods
Controlled longitudinal survey, including a prenatal and a postnatal measurement by structured questionnaires. Main outcome measures: information satisfaction, anxiety during the screening process (a.o. STAI state inventory and specific questionnaire modules), overall attitude on the screening program. Univariate analysis was followed by standard multivariate analysis to identify significant predictors of the outcome measures. Participants: 233 pregnant women, distributed over five groups, according to the screening result.
Results
Satisfaction about the provided information was moderate in all groups. All screen- positive groups desired more supportive information. Anxiety increased in screen- positives during the screening process, but decreased to basic levels postnatally. All groups showed a strongly positive balance between perceived utility and burden of the screening program, independent on test results or background characteristics.
Conclusion
Women highly accept the non-RhD antibody screening program. However, satisfaction about provided information is moderate. Oral and written information should be provided by obstetric care workers themselves, especially to screen-positive women.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-49
PMCID: PMC2605433  PMID: 19014424
13.  Fetal age assessment based on 2nd trimester ultrasound in Africa and the effect of ethnicity 
Background
The African population is composed of a variety of ethnic groups, which differ considerably from each other. Some studies suggest that ethnic variation may influence dating. The aim of the present study was to establish reference values for fetal age assessment in Cameroon using two different ethnic groups (Fulani and Kirdi).
Methods
This was a prospective cross sectional study of 200 healthy pregnant women from Cameroon. The participants had regular menstrual periods and singleton uncomplicated pregnancies, and were recruited after informed consent. The head circumference (HC), outer-outer biparietal diameter (BPDoo), outer-inner biparietal diameter and femur length (FL), also called femur diaphysis length, were measured using ultrasound at 12–22 weeks of gestation. Differences in demographic factors and fetal biometry between ethnic groups were assessed by t- and Chi-square tests.
Results
Compared with Fulani women (N = 96), the Kirdi (N = 104) were 2 years older (p = 0.005), 3 cm taller (p = 0.001), 6 kg heavier (p < 0.0001), had a higher body mass index (BMI) (p = 0.001), but were not different with regard to parity. Ethnicity had no effect on BPDoo (p = 0.82), HC (p = 0.89) or FL (p = 00.24). Weight, height, maternal age and BMI had no effect on HC, BPDoo and FL (p = 0.2–0.58, 0.1–0.83, and 0.17–0.6, respectively).
When comparing with relevant European charts based on similar design and statistics, we found overlapping 95% CI for BPD (Norway & UK) and a 0–4 day difference for FL and HC.
Conclusion
Significant ethnic differences between mothers were not reflected in fetal biometry at second trimester. The results support the recommendation that ultrasound in practical health care can be used to assess gestational age in various populations with little risk of error due to ethnic variation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-48
PMCID: PMC2585556  PMID: 18973673
14.  Use of antenatal corticosteroids prior to preterm birth in four South East Asian countries within the SEA-ORCHID project 
Background
There is strong evidence supporting the use of antenatal corticosteroids in women at risk of preterm birth to promote fetal lung maturation and reduce neonatal mortality and morbidity. This audit aimed to assess the use of antenatal corticosteroids prior to preterm birth in the nine hospitals in four South East Asian countries participating in the South East Asia Optimising Reproductive Health in Developing Countries (SEA-ORCHID) Project.
Method
We reviewed the medical records of 9550 women (9665 infants including 111 twins and two triplets) admitted to the labour wards of nine hospitals in four South East Asian countries during 2005. For women who gave birth before 34 weeks gestation we collected information on women's demographic and pregnancy background, the type, dose and use of corticosteroids, and key birth and infant outcomes.
Results
Administration of antenatal corticosteroids to women who gave birth before 34 weeks gestation varied widely between countries (9% to 73%) and also between hospitals within countries (0% to 86%). Antenatal corticosteroids were most commonly given when women were between 28 and 34 weeks gestation (80%). Overall 6% of women received repeat doses of corticosteroids. Dexamethasone was the only type of antenatal corticosteroid used.
Women receiving antenatal corticosteroids compared with those not given antenatal corticosteroids were less likely to have had a previous pregnancy and to be booked for birth at the hospital and almost three times as likely to have a current multiple pregnancy. Exposed women were less likely to be induced and almost twice as likely to have a caesarean section, a primary postpartum haemorrhage and postpartum pyrexia.
Infants exposed to antenatal corticosteroids compared with infants not exposed were less likely to die. Live born exposed infants were less likely to have Apgar scores of < 7 at five minutes and less likely to have any lung disease.
Conclusion
In this survey the use of antenatal corticosteroids prior to preterm birth varied between countries and hospitals. Evaluation of the enablers and barriers to the uptake of this effective antenatal intervention at individual hospitals is needed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-47
PMCID: PMC2596081  PMID: 18925968
15.  Multi-level modeling of social factors and preterm delivery in Santiago de Chile 
Background
Birth before the 37th week of gestation (preterm birth) is an important cause of infant and neonatal mortality, but has been little studied outside of wealthy nations. Chile is an urbanized Latin American nation classified as "middle-income" based on its annual income per capita of about $6000.
Methods
We studied the relations between maternal social status and neighborhood social status on risk of preterm delivery in this setting using multilevel regression analyses of vital statistics data linked to geocoded decennial census data. The analytic data set included 56,970 births from 2004 in the metropolitan region of Santiago, which constitutes about 70% of all births in the study area and about 25% of all births in Chile that year. Dimensionality of census data was reduced using principal components analysis, with regression scoring to create a single index of community socioeconomic advantage. This was modeled along with years of maternal education in order to predict preterm birth and preterm low birthweight.
Results
Births in Santiago displayed an advantaged pattern of preterm risk, with only 6.4% of births delivering before 37 weeks. Associations were observed between risk of outcomes and individual and neighborhood factors, but the magnitudes of these associations were much more modest than reported in North America.
Conclusion
While several potential explanations for this relatively flat social gradient might be considered, one possibility is that Chile's egalitarian approach to universal prenatal care may have reduced social inequalities in these reproductive outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-46
PMCID: PMC2571086  PMID: 18842145
16.  Obstetric risk indicators for labour dystocia in nulliparous women: A multi-centre cohort study 
Background
In nulliparous women dystocia is the most common obstetric problem and its etiology is largely unknown. The frequency of augmentation and cesarean delivery related to dystocia is high although it is not clear if a slow progress justifies the interventions. Studies of risk factors for dystocia often do not provide diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis. The aim of the present study was to identify obstetric and clinical risk indicators of dystocia defined by strict and explicit criteria.
Methods
A multi-centre population based cohort study with prospectively collected data from 2810 nulliparous women in term spontaneous labour with a singleton infant in cephalic presentation. Data were collected by self-administered questionnaires and clinical data-records. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate adjusted Odds Ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) are given.
Results
The following characteristics, present at admission to hospital, were associated with dystocia during labour (OR, 95% CI): dilatation of cervix < 4 cm (1.63, 1.38–1.92), tense cervix (1.31, 1.04–1.65), thick lower segment (1.32, 1.09–1.61), fetal head above the inter-spinal diameter (2.29, 1.80–2.92) and poor fetal head-to-cervix contact (1.83, 1.31–2.56). The use of epidural analgesia (5.65, 4.33–7.38) was also associated with dystocia.
Conclusion
Vaginal examinations at admission provide useful information on risk indicators for dystocia. The strongest risk indicator was use of epidural analgesia and if part of that is causal, it is of concern.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-45
PMCID: PMC2569907  PMID: 18837972
17.  Maternal risk factors for abnormal placental growth: The national collaborative perinatal project 
Background
Previous studies of maternal risk factors for abnormal placental growth have focused on placental weight and placental ratio as measures of placental growth. We sought to identify maternal risk factors for placental weight and two neglected dimensions of placental growth: placental thickness and chorionic plate area.
Methods
We conducted an analysis of 24,135 mother-placenta pairs enrolled in the National Collaborative Perinatal Project, a prospective cohort study of pregnancy and child health. We defined growth restriction as < 10th percentile and hypertrophy as > 90th percentile for three placental growth dimensions: placental weight, placental thickness and chorionic plate area. We constructed parallel multinomial logistic regression analyses to identify (a) predictors of restricted growth (vs. normal) and (b) predictors of hypertrophic growth (vs. normal).
Results
Black race was associated with an increased likelihood of growth restriction for placental weight, thickness and chorionic plate area, but was associated with a reduced likelihood of hypertrophy for these three placental growth dimensions. We observed an increased likelihood of growth restriction for placental weight and chorionic plate area among mothers with hypertensive disease at 24 weeks or beyond. Anemia was associated with a reduced likelihood of growth restriction for placental weight and chorionic plate area. Pre-pregnancy BMI and pregnancy weight gain were associated with a reduced likelihood of growth restriction and an increased likelihood of hypertrophy for all three dimensions of placental growth.
Conclusion
Maternal risk factors are either associated with placental growth restriction or placental hypertrophy not both. Our findings suggest that the placenta may have compensatory responses to certain maternal risk factors suggesting different underlying biological mechanisms.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-44
PMCID: PMC2564930  PMID: 18811957
18.  A population-based study of race-specific risk for placental abruption 
Background
Efforts to elucidate risk factors for placental abruption are imperative due to the severity of complications it produces for both mother and fetus, and its contribution to preterm birth. Ethnicity-based differences in risk of placental abruption and preterm birth have been reported. We tested the hypotheses that race, after adjusting for other factors, is associated with the risk of placental abruption at specific gestational ages, and that there is a greater contribution of placental abruption to the increased risk of preterm birth in Black mothers, compared to White mothers.
Methods
We conducted a population-based cohort study using the Missouri Department of Health's maternally-linked database of all births in Missouri (1989–1997) to assess racial effects on placental abruption and the contribution of placental abruption to preterm birth, at different gestational age categories (n = 664,303).
Results
Among 108,806 births to Black mothers and 555,497 births to White mothers, 1.02% (95% CI 0.96–1.08) of Black births were complicated by placental abruption, compared to 0.71% (95% CI 0.69–0.73) of White births (aOR 1.32, 95% CI 1.22–1.43). The magnitude of risk of placental abruption for Black mothers, compared to White mothers, increased with younger gestational age categories. The risk of placental abruption resulting in term and extreme preterm births (< 28 weeks) was higher for Black mothers (aOR 1.15, 95% CI 1.02–1.29 and aOR 1.98, 95% CI 1.58–2.48, respectively). Compared to White women delivering in the same gestational age category, there were a significantly higher proportion of placental abruption in Black mothers who delivered at term, and a significantly lower proportion of placental abruption in Black mothers who delivered in all preterm categories (p < 0.05).
Conclusion
Black women have an increased risk of placental abruption compared to White women, even when controlling for known coexisting risk factors. This risk increase is greatest at the earliest preterm gestational ages when outcomes are the poorest. The relative contribution of placental abruption to term births was greater in Black women, whereas the relative contribution of placental abruption to preterm birth was greater in White women.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-43
PMCID: PMC2546363  PMID: 18789147
19.  A population-based study of effect of multiple birth on infant mortality in Nigeria 
Background
Multi-foetal pregnancies and multiple births including twins and higher order multiples births such as triplets and quadruplets are high-risk pregnancy and birth. These high-risk groups contribute to the higher rate of childhood mortality especially during early period of life.
Methods
We examined the relationship between multiple births and infant mortality using univariable and multivariable survival regression procedure with Weibull hazard function, controlling for child's sex, birth order, prenatal care, delivery assistance; mother's age at child birth, nutritional status, education level; household living conditions and several other risk factors.
Results
Children born multiple births were more than twice as likely to die during infancy as infants born singleton (hazard ratio = 2.19; 95% confidence interval: 1.50, 3.19) holding other factors constant. Maternal education and household asset index were associated with lower risk of infant mortality.
Conclusion
Multiple births are strongly negatively associated with infant survival in Nigeria independent of other risk factors. Mother's education played a protective role against infant death. This evidence suggests that improving maternal education may be key to improving child survival in Nigeria. A well-educated mother has a better chance of satisfying important factors that can improve infant survival: the quality of infant feeding, general care, household sanitation, and adequate use of preventive and curative health services.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-41
PMCID: PMC2551580  PMID: 18783603
20.  Misoprostol in addition to routine treatment of postpartum hemorrhage: A hospital-based randomized-controlled trial in Karachi, Pakistan 
Background
Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) remains a major killer of women worldwide. Standard uterotonic treatments used to control postpartum bleeding do not always work and are not always available. Misoprostol's potential as a treatment option for PPH is increasingly known, but its use remains ad hoc and available evidence does not support the safety or efficacy of one particular regimen. This study aimed to determine the adjunct benefit of misoprostol when combined with standard oxytocics for PPH treatment.
Methods
A randomized controlled trial was conducted in four Karachi hospitals from December 2005 – April 2007 to assess the benefit of a 600 mcg dose of misoprostol given sublingually in addition to standard oxytocics for postpartum hemorrhage treatment. Consenting women had their blood loss measured after normal vaginal delivery and were enrolled in the study after losing more than 500 ml of blood. Women were randomly assigned to receive either 600 mcg sublingual misoprostol or matching placebo in addition to standard PPH treatment with injectable oxytocics. Both women and providers were blinded to the treatment assignment. Blood loss was collected until active bleeding stopped and for a minimum of one hour after PPH diagnosis. Total blood loss, hemoglobin measures, and treatment outcomes were recorded for all participants.
Results
Due to a much lower rate of PPH than expected (1.2%), only sixty-one patients were diagnosed and treated for their PPH in this study, and we were therefore unable to measure statistical significance in any of the primary endpoints. The addition of 600 mcg sublingual misoprostol to standard PPH treatments does, however, suggest a trend in reduced postpartum blood loss, a smaller drop in postpartum hemoglobin, and need for fewer additional interventions. Women who bled less overall had a significantly smaller drop in hemoglobin and received fewer additional interventions. There were no hysterectomies or maternal deaths among study participants. The rate of transient shivering and fever was significantly higher among women receiving misoprostol
Conclusion
A 600 mcg dose of misoprostol given sublingually shows promise as an adjunct treatment for PPH and its use should continue to be explored for its life-saving potential in the care of women experiencing PPH.
Trial Registration
Clinical trials.gov, Registry No. NCT00116480
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-40
PMCID: PMC2529259  PMID: 18718007
21.  Temporal changes in key maternal and fetal factors affecting birth outcomes: A 32-year population-based study in an industrial city 
Background
The link between maternal factors and birth outcomes is well established. Substantial changes in society and medical care over time have influenced women's reproductive choices and health, subsequently affecting birth outcomes. The objective of this study was to describe temporal changes in key maternal and fetal factors affecting birth outcomes in Newcastle upon Tyne over three decades, 1961–1992.
Methods
For these descriptive analyses we used data from a population-based birth record database constructed for the historical cohort Particulate Matter and Perinatal Events Research (PAMPER) study. The PAMPER database was created using details from paper-based hospital delivery and neonatal records for all births during 1961–1992 to mothers resident in Newcastle (out of a total of 109,086 singleton births, 97,809 hospital births with relevant information). In addition to hospital records, we used other sources for data collection on births not included in the delivery and neonatal records, for death and stillbirth registrations and for validation.
Results
The average family size decreased mainly due to a decline in the proportion of families with 3 or more children. The distribution of mean maternal ages in all and in primiparous women was lowest in the mid 1970s, corresponding to a peak in the proportion of teenage mothers. The proportion of older mothers declined until the late 1970s (from 16.5% to 3.4%) followed by a steady increase. Mean birthweight in all and term babies gradually increased from the mid 1970s. The increase in the percentage of preterm birth paralleled a two-fold increase in the percentage of caesarean section among preterm births during the last two decades. The gap between the most affluent and the most deprived groups of the population widened over the three decades.
Conclusion
Key maternal and fetal factors affecting birth outcomes, such as maternal age, parity, socioeconomic status, birthweight and gestational age, changed substantially during the 32-year period, from 1961 to 1992. The availability of accurate gestational age is extremely important for correct interpretation of trends in birthweight.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-39
PMCID: PMC2542990  PMID: 18713457
22.  Tests for predicting complications of pre-eclampsia: A protocol for systematic reviews 
Background
Pre-eclampsia is associated with several complications. Early prediction of complications and timely management is needed for clinical care of these patients to avert fetal and maternal mortality and morbidity. There is a need to identify best testing strategies in pre eclampsia to identify the women at increased risk of complications. We aim to determine the accuracy of various tests to predict complications of pre-eclampsia by systematic quantitative reviews.
Method
We performed extensive search in MEDLINE (1951–2004), EMBASE (1974–2004) and also will also include manual searches of bibliographies of primary and review articles. An initial search has revealed 19500 citations. Two reviewers will independently select studies and extract data on study characteristics, quality and accuracy. Accuracy data will be used to construct 2 × 2 tables. Data synthesis will involve assessment for heterogeneity and appropriately pooling of results to produce summary Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) curve and summary likelihood ratios.
Discussion
This review will generate predictive information and integrate that with therapeutic effectiveness to determine the absolute benefit and harm of available therapy in reducing complications in women with pre-eclampsia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-38
PMCID: PMC2553049  PMID: 18694494
23.  Feasibility of a controlled trial aiming to prevent excessive pregnancy-related weight gain in primary health care 
Background
Excessive gestational weight gain and postpartum weight retention may predispose women to long-term overweight and other health problems. Intervention studies aiming at preventing excessive pregnancy-related weight gain are needed. The feasibility of implementing such a study protocol in primary health care setting was evaluated in this pilot study.
Methods
A non-randomized controlled trial was conducted in three intervention and three control maternity and child health clinics in primary health care in Finland. Altogether, 132 pregnant and 92 postpartum women and 23 public health nurses (PHN) participated in the study. The intervention consisted of individual counselling on physical activity and diet at five routine visits to a PHN and of an option for supervised group exercise until 37 weeks' gestation or ten months postpartum. The control clinics continued their usual care. The components of the feasibility evaluation were 1) recruitment and participation, 2) completion of data collection, 3) realization of the intervention and 4) the public health nurses' experiences.
Results
1) The recruitment rate was slower than expected and the recruitment period had to be prolonged from the initially planned three months to six months. The average participation rate of eligible women at study enrolment was 77% and the drop-out rate 15%. 2) In total, 99% of the data on weight, physical activity and diet and 96% of the blood samples were obtained. 3) In the intervention clinics, 98% of the counselling sessions were realized, their contents and average durations were as intended, 87% of participants regularly completed the weekly records for physical activity and diet, and the average participation percentage in the group exercise sessions was 45%. 4) The PHNs regarded the extra training as a major advantage and the high additional workload as a disadvantage of the study.
Conclusion
The study protocol was mostly feasible to implement, which encourages conducting large trials in comparable settings.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN21512277
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-37
PMCID: PMC2526978  PMID: 18694479
24.  Serum screening with Down's syndrome markers to predict pre-eclampsia and small for gestational age: Systematic review and meta-analysis 
Background
Reliable antenatal identification of pre-eclampsia and small for gestational age is crucial to judicious allocation of monitoring resources and use of preventative treatment with the prospect of improving maternal/perinatal outcome. The purpose of this systematic review was to determine the accuracy of five serum analytes used in Down's serum screening for prediction of pre-eclampsia and/or small for gestational age.
Methods
The data sources included Medline, Embase, Cochrane library, Medion (inception to February 2007), hand searching of relevant journals, reference list checking of included articles, contact with experts. Two reviewers independently selected the articles in which the accuracy of an analyte used in Downs's serum screening before the 25th gestational week was associated with the occurrence of pre-eclampsia and/or small for gestational age without language restrictions. Two authors independently extracted data on study characteristics, quality and results.
Results
Five serum screening markers were evaluated. 44 studies, testing 169,637 pregnant women (4376 pre-eclampsia cases) and 86 studies, testing 382,005 women (20,339 fetal growth restriction cases) met the selection criteria. The results showed low predictive accuracy overall. For pre-eclampsia the best predictor was inhibin A>2.79MoM positive likelihood ratio 19.52 (8.33,45.79) and negative likelihood ratio 0.30 (0.13,0.68) (single study). For small for gestational age it was AFP>2.0MoM to predict birth weight < 10th centile with birth < 37 weeks positive likelihood ratio 27.96 (8.02,97.48) and negative likelihood ratio 0.78 (0.55,1.11) (single study). A potential clinical application using aspirin as a treatment is given as an example.
There were methodological and reporting limitations in the included studies thus studies were heterogeneous giving pooled results with wide confidence intervals.
Conclusion
Down's serum screening analytes have low predictive accuracy for pre-eclampsia and small for gestational age. They may be a useful means of risk assessment or of use in prediction when combined with other tests.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-33
PMCID: PMC2533288  PMID: 18680570
25.  COSMOS: COmparing Standard Maternity care with One-to-one midwifery Support: a randomised controlled trial 
Background
In Australia and internationally, there is concern about the growing proportion of women giving birth by caesarean section. There is evidence of increased risk of placenta accreta and percreta in subsequent pregnancies as well as decreased fertility; and significant resource implications. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of continuity of midwifery care have reported reduced caesareans and other interventions in labour, as well as increased maternal satisfaction, with no statistically significant differences in perinatal morbidity or mortality. RCTs conducted in the UK and in Australia have largely measured the effect of teams of care providers (commonly 6–12 midwives) with very few testing caseload (one-to-one) midwifery care. This study aims to determine whether caseload (one-to-one) midwifery care for women at low risk of medical complications decreases the proportion of women delivering by caesarean section compared with women receiving 'standard' care. This paper presents the trial protocol in detail.
Methods/design
A two-arm RCT design will be used. Women who are identified at low medical risk will be recruited from the antenatal booking clinics of a tertiary women's hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Baseline data will be collected, then women randomised to caseload midwifery or standard low risk care. Women allocated to the caseload intervention will receive antenatal, intrapartum and postpartum care from a designated primary midwife with one or two antenatal visits conducted by a 'back-up' midwife. The midwives will collaborate with obstetricians and other health professionals as necessary. If the woman has an extended labour, or if the primary midwife is unavailable, care will be provided by the back-up midwife. For women allocated to standard care, options include midwifery-led care with varying levels of continuity, junior obstetric care and community based general medical practitioner care. Data will be collected at recruitment (self administered survey) and at 2 and 6 months postpartum by postal survey. Medical/obstetric outcomes will be abstracted from the medical record. The sample size of 2008 was calculated to identify a decrease in caesarean birth from 19 to 14% and detect a range of other significant clinical differences. Comprehensive process and economic evaluations will be conducted.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN012607000073404.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-35
PMCID: PMC2526977  PMID: 18680606

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