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1.  Knowledge about safe motherhood and HIV/AIDS among school pupils in a rural area in Tanzania 
Background
The majority of adolescents in Africa experience pregnancy, childbirth and enter motherhood without adequate information about maternal health issues. Information about these issues could help them reduce their pregnancy related health risks. Existing studies have concentrated on adolescents' knowledge of other areas of reproductive health, but little is known about their awareness and knowledge of safe motherhood issues. We sought to bridge this gap by assessing the knowledge of school pupils regarding safe motherhood in Mtwara Region, Tanzania.
Methods
We used qualitative and quantitative descriptive methods to assess school pupils' knowledge of safe motherhood and HIV/AIDS in pregnancy. An anonymous questionnaire was used to assess the knowledge of 135 pupils ranging in age from 9 to 17 years. The pupils were randomly selected from 3 primary schools. Underlying beliefs and attitudes were assessed through focus group interviews with 35 school children. Key informant interviews were conducted with six schoolteachers, two community leaders, and two health staffs.
Results
Knowledge about safe motherhood and other related aspects was generally low. While 67% of pupils could not mention the age at which a girl may be able to conceive, 80% reported it is safe for a girl to be married before she reaches 18 years. Strikingly, many school pupils believed that complications during pregnancy and childbirth are due to non-observance of traditions and taboos during pregnancy. Birth preparedness, important risk factors, danger signs, postpartum care and vertical transmission of HIV/AIDS and its prevention measures were almost unknown to the pupils.
Conclusion
Poor knowledge of safe motherhood issues among school pupils in rural Tanzania is related to lack of effective and coordinated interventions to address reproductive health and motherhood. For long-term and sustained impact, school children must be provided with appropriate safe motherhood information as early as possible through innovative school-based interventions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-5
PMCID: PMC1868762  PMID: 17456230
2.  Use pattern of maternal health services and determinants of skilled care during delivery in Southern Tanzania: implications for achievement of MDG-5 targets 
Background
Almost two decades since the initiation of the Safe motherhood Initiative, Maternal Mortality is still soaring high in most developing countries. In 2000 WHO estimated a life time risk of a maternal death of 1 in 16 in Sub- Saharan Africa while it was only 1 in 2800 in developed countries. This huge discrepancy in the rate of maternal deaths is due to differences in access and use of maternal health care services. It is known that having a skilled attendant at every delivery can lead to marked reductions in maternal mortality. For this reason, the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel is one of the indicators used to monitor progress towards the achievement of the MDG-5 of improving maternal health.
Methods
Cross sectional study which employed quantitative research methods.
Results
We interviewed 974 women who gave birth within one year prior to the survey. Although almost all (99.8%) attended ANC at least once during their last pregnancy, only 46.7% reported to deliver in a health facility and only 44.5% were assisted during delivery by a skilled attendant. Distance to the health facility (OR = 4.09 (2.72–6.16)), discussion with the male partner on place of delivery (OR = 2.37(1.75–3.22)), advise to deliver in a health facility during ANC (OR = 1.43 (1.25–2.63)) and knowledge of pregnancy risk factors (OR 2.95 (1.65–5.25)) showed significant association with use of skilled care at delivery even after controlling for confounding factors.
Conclusion
Use of skilled care during delivery in this district is below the target set by ICPD + of attaining 80% of deliveries attended by skilled personnel by 2005. We recommend the following in order to increase the pace towards achieving the MDG targets: to improve coverage of health facilities, raising awareness for both men and women on danger signs during pregnancy/delivery and strengthening counseling on facility delivery and individual birth preparedness.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-29
PMCID: PMC2222241  PMID: 18053268
3.  Assessing fetal growth impairments based on family data as a tool for identifying high-risk babies. An example with neonatal mortality 
Background
Low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of neonatal and infant mortality and morbidity, as well as with other adverse conditions later in life. Since the birth weight-specific mortality of a second child depends on the birth weight of an older sibling, a failure to achieve the biologically intended size appears to increase the risk of adverse outcome even in babies who are not classified as small for gestation. In this study, we aimed at quantifying the risk of neonatal death as a function of a baby's failure to fulfil its biologic growth potential across the whole distribution of birth weight.
Methods
We predicted the birth weight of 411,957 second babies born in Denmark (1979–2002), given the birth weight of the first, and examined how the ratio of achieved birth weight to predicted birth weight performed in predicting neonatal mortality.
Results
For any achieved birth weight category, the risk of neonatal death increased with decreasing birth weight ratio. However, the risk of neonatal death increased with decreasing birth weight, even among babies who achieved their predicted birth weight.
Conclusion
While a low achieved birth weight was a stronger predictor of mortality, a failure to achieve the predicted birth weight was associated with increased mortality at virtually all birth weights. Use of family data may allow identification of children at risk of adverse health outcomes, especially among babies with apparently "normal" growth.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-28
PMCID: PMC2233632  PMID: 18045458
4.  Costs and consequences of treatment for mild gestational diabetes mellitus – evaluation from the ACHOIS randomised trial 
Background
Recommended best practice is that economic evaluation of health care interventions should be integral with randomised clinical trials. We performed a cost-consequence analysis of treating women with mild gestational diabetes mellitus by dietary advice, blood glucose monitoring and insulin therapy as needed compared with routine pregnancy care, using patient-level data from a multi-centre randomised clinical trial.
Methods
Women with a singleton pregnancy who had mild gestational diabetes diagnosed by an oral glucose-tolerance test between 24 and 34 weeks' gestation and their infants were included. Clinical outcomes and outpatient costs derived from all women and infants in the trial. Inpatient costs derived from women and infants attending the hospital contributing the largest number of enrolments (26.1%), and charges to women and their families derived from a subsample of participants from that hospital (in 2002 Australian dollars). Occasions of service and health outcomes were adjusted for maternal age, ethnicity and parity. Analysis of variance was used with bootstrapping to confirm results. Primary clinical outcomes were serious perinatal complications; admission to neonatal nursery; jaundice requiring phototherapy; induction of labour and caesarean delivery. Economic outcome measures were outpatient and inpatient costs, and charges to women and their families.
Results
For every 100 women with a singleton pregnancy and positive oral glucose tolerance test who were offered treatment for mild gestational diabetes mellitus in addition to routine obstetric care, $53,985 additional direct costs were incurred at the obstetric hospital, $6,521 additional charges were incurred by women and their families, 9.7 additional women experienced induction of labour, and 8.6 more babies were admitted to a neonatal nursery. However, 2.2 fewer babies experienced serious perinatal complication and 1.0 fewer babies experienced perinatal death. The incremental cost per additional serious perinatal complication prevented was $27,503, per perinatal death prevented was $60,506 and per discounted life-year gained was $2,988.
Conclusion
It is likely that the general public in high-income countries such as Australia would find reductions in perinatal mortality and in serious perinatal complications sufficient to justify additional health service and personal monetary charges. Over the whole lifespan, the incremental cost per extra life-year gained is highly favourable.
Trial Registration
Australian Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12606000294550
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-27
PMCID: PMC2241640  PMID: 17963528
5.  Assessment of social psychological determinants of satisfaction with childbirth in a cross-national perspective 
Background
The fulfilment of expectations, labour pain, personal control and self-efficacy determine the postpartum evaluation of birth. However, researchers have seldom considered the multiple determinants in one analysis. To explore to what extent the results can be generalised between countries, we analyse data of Belgian and Dutch women. Although Belgium and the Netherlands share the same language, geography and political system and have a common history, their health care systems diverge. The Belgian maternity care system corresponds to the ideal type of the medical model, whereas the Dutch system approaches the midwifery model. In this paper we examine multiple determinants, the fulfilment of expectations, labour pain, personal control and self-efficacy, for their association with satisfaction with childbirth in a cross-national perspective.
Methods
Two questionnaires were filled out by 605 women, one at 30 weeks of pregnancy and one within the first 2 weeks after childbirth either at home or in a hospital. Of these, 560 questionnaires were usable for analysis. Women were invited to participate in the study by independent midwives and obstetricians during antenatal visits in 2004–2005. Satisfaction with childbirth was measured by the Mackey Satisfaction with Childbirth Rating Scale, which takes into account the multidimensional nature of the concept. Labour pain was rated retrospectively using Visual Analogue Scales. Personal control was assessed with the Wijma Delivery Expectancy/Experience Questionnaire and Pearlin and Schooler's mastery scale. A hierarchical linear analysis was performed.
Results
Satisfaction with childbirth benefited most consistently from the fulfilment of expectations. In addition, the experience of personal control buffered the lowering impact of labour pain. Women with high self-efficacy showed more satisfaction with self-, midwife- and physician-related aspects of the birth experience.
Conclusion
Our findings focus the attention toward personal control, self-efficacy and expectations about childbirth. This study confirms the multidimensionality of childbirth satisfaction and demonstrates that different factors predict the various dimensions of satisfaction. The model applies to both Belgian and Dutch women. Cross-national comparative research should further assess the dependence of the determinants of childbirth satisfaction on the organisation of maternity care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-26
PMCID: PMC2200649  PMID: 17963491
6.  How well do blood folate concentrations predict dietary folate intakes in a sample of Canadian lactating women exposed to high levels of folate? An observational study 
Background
In 1998, mandatory folic acid fortification of white flour and select cereal grain products was implemented in Canada with the intention to increase dietary folate intakes of reproducing women. Folic acid fortification has produced a dramatic increase in blood folate concentrations among reproductive age women, and a reduction in neural tube defect (NTD)-affected pregnancies. In response to improved blood folate concentrations, many health care professionals are asking whether a folic acid supplement is necessary for NTD prevention among women with high blood folate values, and how reliably high RBC folate concentrations predict folate intakes shown in randomized controlled trials to be protective against NTDs. The objective of this study was to determine how predictive blood folate concentrations and folate intakes are of each other in a sample of well-educated lactating Canadian women exposed to high levels of synthetic folate.
Methods
The relationship between blood folate concentrations and dietary folate intakes, determined by weighed food records, were assessed in a sample of predominantly university-educated lactating women (32 ± 4 yr) at 4-(n = 53) and 16-wk postpartum (n = 55).
Results
Median blood folate concentrations of all participants were well above plasma and RBC folate cut-off levels indicative of deficiency (6.7 and 317 nmol/L, respectively) and all, except for 2 subjects, were above the cut-off for NTD-risk reduction (>906 nmol/L). Only modest associations existed between total folate intakes and plasma (r = 0.46, P < 0.001) and RBC (r = 0.36, P < 0.01) folate concentrations at 16-wk postpartum. Plasma and RBC folate values at 16-wk postpartum correctly identified the quartile of folate intake of only 26 of 55 (47%) and 18 of 55 (33%) of subjects, respectively. The mean RBC folate concentration of women consuming 151–410 μg/d of synthetic folate (2nd quartile of intake) did not differ from that of women consuming >410 μg/d (3rd and 4th quartile).
Conclusion
Folate intakes, estimated by food composition tables, and blood folate concentrations are not predictive of each other in Canadian lactating women exposed to high levels of folate. Synthetic intakes > 151–410 μg/d in these women produced little additional benefit in terms of maximizing RBC content. More studies are needed to examine the relationship between blood folate concentration and NTD risk. Until data from such studies are available, women planning a pregnancy should continue to consume a daily folic acid supplement of 400 μg.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-25
PMCID: PMC2231404  PMID: 17961229
7.  The CORONIS Trial. International study of caesarean section surgical techniques: a randomised fractional, factorial trial 
Background
Caesarean section is one of the most commonly performed operations on women throughout the world. Rates have increased in recent years – about 20–25% in many developed countries. Rates in other parts of the world vary widely.
A variety of surgical techniques for all elements of the caesarean section operation are in use. Many have not yet been rigorously evaluated in randomised controlled trials, and it is not known whether any are associated with better outcomes for women and babies. Because huge numbers of women undergo caesarean section, even small differences in post-operative morbidity rates between techniques could translate into improved health for substantial numbers of women, and significant cost savings.
Design
CORONIS is a multicentre, fractional, factorial randomised controlled trial and will be conducted in centres in Argentina, Ghana, India, Kenya, Pakistan and Sudan.
Women are eligible if they are undergoing their first or second caesarean section through a transverse abdominal incision.
Five comparisons will be carried out in one trial, using a 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 fractional factorial design. This design has rarely been used, but is appropriate for the evaluation of several procedures which will be used together in clinical practice. The interventions are:
• Blunt versus sharp abdominal entry
• Exteriorisation of the uterus for repair versus intra-abdominal repair
• Single versus double layer closure of the uterus
• Closure versus non-closure of the peritoneum (pelvic and parietal)
• Chromic catgut versus Polyglactin-910 for uterine repair
The primary outcome is death or maternal infectious morbidity (one or more of the following: antibiotic use for maternal febrile morbidity during postnatal hospital stay, antibiotic use for endometritis, wound infection or peritonitis) or further operative procedures; or blood transfusion.
The sample size required is 15,000 women in total; at least 7,586 women in each comparison.
Discussion
Improvements in health from optimising caesarean section techniques are likely to be more significant in developing countries, because the rates of postoperative morbidity in these countries tend to be higher. More women could therefore benefit from improvements in techniques.
Trial registration
The CORONIS Trial is registered in the Current Controlled Trials registry. ISCRTN31089967.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-24
PMCID: PMC2217555  PMID: 18336721
8.  Use of antenatal services and delivery care in Entebbe, Uganda: a community survey 
Background
Disparities in perinatal health care occur worldwide. If the UN Millennium Development Goals in maternal and child health are to be met, this needs to be addressed. This study was conducted to facilitate our understanding of the changing use of maternity care services in a semi-urban community in Entebbe Uganda and to examine the range of antenatal and delivery services received in health care facilities and at home.
Methods
We conducted a retrospective community survey among women using structured questionnaires to describe the use of antenatal services and delivery care.
Results
In total 413 women reported on their most recent pregnancy. Antenatal care attendance was high with 96% attending once, and 69% the recommended four times. Blood pressure monitoring (95%) and tetanus vaccination (91%) were the services most frequently reported and HIV testing (47%), haematinics (58%) and presumptive treatment for malaria (66%) least frequently. Hospital clinics significantly outperformed public clinics in the quality of antenatal service. A significant improvement in the reported quality of antenatal services received was observed by year (p < 0.001). Improvement in the range and consistency of services at Entebbe Hospital over time was associated with an increase in the numbers who sought care there (p = 0.038). Although 63% delivered their newborn at a local hospital, 11% still delivered at home with no skilled assistance and just under half of these women reported financial/transportation difficulties as the primary reason. Less educated, poorer mothers were more likely to have unskilled/no assistance. Simple newborn care practices were commonly neglected. Only 35% of newborns were breastfed within the first hour and delayed wrapping of newborn infants occurred after 27% of deliveries.
Conclusion
Although antenatal services were well utilised, the quality of services varied. Women were able and willing to travel to a facility providing a good service. Access to essential skilled birth attendants remains difficult especially for less educated, poorer women, commonly mediated by financial and transport difficulties and several simple post delivery practices were commonly neglected. These factors need to be addressed to ensure that high quality care reaches the most vulnerable women and infants.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-23
PMCID: PMC2098779  PMID: 17931422
9.  Association between the plasma/whole blood lead ratio and history of spontaneous abortion: a nested cross-sectional study 
Background
Blood lead has been associated with an elevated risk of miscarriage. The plasmatic fraction of lead represents the toxicologically active fraction of lead. Women with a tendency to have a higher plasma/whole blood Pb ratio could tend towards an elevated risk of miscarriage due to a higher plasma Pb for a given whole blood Pb and would consequently have a history of spontaneous abortion.
Methods
We studied 207 pregnant Mexico City residents during the 1st trimester of pregnancy, originally recruited for two cohorts between 1997 and 2004. Criteria for inclusion in this study were having had at least one previous pregnancy, and having valid plasma and blood Pb measurements. Pb was measured in whole blood and plasma by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry using ultra-clean techniques. History of miscarriage in previous pregnancies was obtained by interview. The incidence rate of spontaneous abortion was defined as the proportion of previous pregnancies that resulted in miscarriage. Data were analyzed by means of Poisson regression models featuring the incidence rate of spontaneous abortion as the outcome and continuous or categorized plasma/blood Pb ratios as predictor variables. All models were adjusted for age and schooling. Additionally, logistic regression models featuring inclusion in the study sample as the outcome were fitted to assess potential selection bias.
Results
The mean number of miscarriages was 0.42 (range 0 to 4); mean Pb concentrations were 62.4 and 0.14 μg/L in whole blood and plasma respectively. Mean plasma/blood Pb ratio was 0.22%. We estimated that a 0.1% increment in the plasma/blood Pb ratio lead was associated to a 12% greater incidence of spontaneous abortion (p = 0.02). Women in the upper tertile of the plasma/blood Pb ratio had twice the incidence rate of those in the lower tertile (p = 0.02). Conditional on recruitment cohort, inclusion in the study sample was unrelated to observable characteristics such as number of abortions, number of pregnancies, blood Pb levels, age schooling, weight and height.
Conclusion
Women with a large plasma/whole blood Pb ratio may be at higher risk of miscarriage, which could be due to a greater availability of placental barrier-crossing Pb.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-22
PMCID: PMC2148053  PMID: 17900368
10.  Metabolic Syndrome features and risk of neural tube defects 
Background
Maternal obesity and pre-pregnancy diabetes mellitus, features of the metabolic syndrome (MetSyn), are individual risk factors for neural tube defects (NTD). Whether they, in combination with additional features of MetSyn, alter this risk is not known. We evaluated the risk of NTD in association with maternal features of the MetSyn.
Methods
We used a population-based case-control study design in the province of Ontario, Canada. Cases and controls were derived from women who underwent antenatal maternal screening (MSS) at 15 to 20 weeks' gestation. There were 89 maternal cases with, and 434 controls without, an NTD-affected singleton pregnancy. Maternal features of MetSyn were defined by the presence of pre-pregnancy diabetes mellitus, body weight ≥ 90th centile among controls, non-white ethnicity and/or serum highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP) ≥ 75th centile of controls. Since hsCRP naturally increases in pregnancy, analyses were performed with, and without, the inclusion of hsCRP in the model.
Results
Mean hsCRP concentrations were exceptionally high among study cases and controls (6.1 and 6.4 mg/L, respectively). When hsCRP was excluded from the model, the adjusted odds ratios for NTD were 1.9 (95% confidence interval 1.1–3.4) in the presence 1 feature of MetSyn, and 6.1 (1.1–32.9) in the presence of 2 or more features. When hsCRP was included, the respective risk estimates were attenuated to 1.6 (0.88–2.8) and 3.1 (1.2–8.3).
Conclusion
We found about 2-fold and 6-fold higher risk for NTD in the presence 1, and 2 or more features, of the metabolic syndrome, respectively. It is not clear whether this risk is altered by the presence of a high serum hsCRP concentration.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-21
PMCID: PMC2039731  PMID: 17880716
11.  Appropriate criteria for identification of near-miss maternal morbidity in tertiary care facilities: A cross sectional study 
Background
The study of severe maternal morbidity survivors (near miss) may be an alternative or a complement to the study of maternal death events as a health care indicator. However, there is still controversy regarding the criteria for identification of near-miss maternal morbidity. This study aimed to characterize the near miss maternal morbidity according to different sets of criteria.
Methods
A descriptive study in a tertiary center including 2,929 women who delivered there between July 2003 and June 2004. Possible cases of near miss were daily screened by checking different sets of criteria proposed elsewhere. The main outcome measures were: rate of near miss and its primary determinant factors, criteria for its identification, total hospital stay, ICU stay, and number and kind of special procedures performed.
Results
There were two maternal deaths and 124 cases of near miss were identified, with 102 of them admitted to the ICU (80.9%). Among the 126 special procedures performed, the most frequent were central venous access, echocardiography and invasive mechanical ventilation. The mean hospital stay was 10.3 (± 13.24) days. Hospital stay and the number of special procedures performed were significantly higher when the organ dysfunction based criteria were applied.
Conclusion
The adoption of a two level screening strategy may lead to the development of a consistent severe maternal morbidity surveillance system but further research is needed before worldwide near miss criteria can be assumed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-20
PMCID: PMC2014760  PMID: 17848189
12.  Utilisation of postnatal care among rural women in Nepal 
Background
Postnatal care is uncommon in Nepal, and where it is available the quality is often poor. Adequate utilisation of postnatal care can help reduce mortality and morbidity among mothers and their babies. Therefore, our study assessed the utilisation of postnatal care at a rural community level.
Methods
A descriptive, cross-sectional study was carried out in two neighbouring villages in early 2006. A total of 150 women who had delivered in the previous 24 months were asked to participate in the study using a semi-structured questionnaire.
Results
The proportion of women who had received postnatal care after delivery was low (34%). Less than one in five women (19%) received care within 48 hours of giving birth. Women in one village had less access to postnatal care than women in the neighbouring one. Lack of awareness was the main barrier to the utilisation of postnatal care.
The woman's own occupation and ethnicity, the number of pregnancies and children and the husband's socio-economic status, occupation and education were significantly associated with the utilisation of postnatal care.
Multivariate analysis showed that wealth as reflected in occupation and having attended antenatal are important factors associated with the uptake of postnatal care. In addition, women experiencing health problems appear strongly motivated to seek postnatal care.
Conclusion
The postnatal care has a low uptake and is often regarded as inadequate in Nepal. This is an important message to both service providers and health-policy makers. Therefore, there is an urgent need to assess the actual quality of postnatal care provided. Also there appears to be a need for awareness-raising programmes highlighting the availability of current postnatal care where this is of sufficient quality.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-19
PMCID: PMC2075509  PMID: 17767710
13.  Measuring perinatal complications: methodologic issues related to gestational age 
Background
Perinatal outcomes differ by week of gestational age. However, it appears that how measures to examine these outcomes vary among various studies. The current paper explores how perinatal complications are reported and how they might differ when different denominators, numerators, and comparison groups are utilized.
Conclusion
One issue that can clearly affect absolute rates and trends is how groups of women are categorized by their gestational age. Since most perinatal outcomes can only occur in women and neonates who have delivered, using the number of pregnancies delivered (PD) as the denominator of outcomes is appropriate. However, for an outcome such as antepartum stillbirth, all women who are pregnant at a particular gestational age are at risk. Thus, the denominator should include all ongoing pregnancies (OP). When gestational age is used by week this means using both deliveries during a particular week plus those women who deliver beyond the particular week of gestation in the denominator. Researchers should be careful to make sure they are utilizing the appropriate measure of perinatal complications so they do not report findings that would be misleading to clinicians, patients, and policy makers.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-18
PMCID: PMC2075508  PMID: 17760989
14.  Birth after caesarean study – planned vaginal birth or planned elective repeat caesarean for women at term with a single previous caesarean birth: protocol for a patient preference study and randomised trial 
Background
For women who have a caesarean section in their preceding pregnancy, two care policies for birth are considered standard: planned vaginal birth and planned elective repeat caesarean. Currently available information about the benefits and harms of both forms of care are derived from retrospective and prospective cohort studies. There have been no randomised trials, and recognising the deficiencies in the literature, there have been calls for methodologically rigorous studies to assess maternal and infant health outcomes associated with both care policies.
The aims of our study are to assess in women with a previous caesarean birth, who are eligible in the subsequent pregnancy for a vaginal birth, whether a policy of planned vaginal birth after caesarean compared with a policy of planned repeat caesarean affects the risk of serious complications for the woman and her infant.
Methods/Design
Design: Multicentred patient preference study and a randomised clinical trial.
Inclusion Criteria: Women with a single prior caesarean presenting in their next pregnancy with a single, live fetus in cephalic presentation, who have reached 37 weeks gestation, and who do not have a contraindication to a planned VBAC.
Trial Entry & Randomisation: Eligible women will be given an information sheet during pregnancy, and will be recruited to the study from 37 weeks gestation after an obstetrician has confirmed eligibility for a planned vaginal birth. Written informed consent will be obtained. Women who consent to the patient preference study will be allocated their preference for either planned VBAC or planned, elective repeat caesarean. Women who consent to the randomised trial will be randomly allocated to either the planned vaginal birth after caesarean or planned elective repeat caesarean group.
Treatment Groups: Women in the planned vaginal birth group will await spontaneous onset of labour whilst appropriate. Women in the elective repeat caesarean group will have this scheduled for between 38 and 40 weeks.
Primary Study Outcome: Serious adverse infant outcome (death or serious morbidity).
Sample Size: 2314 women in the patient preference study to show a difference in adverse neonatal outcome from 1.6% to 3.6% (p = 0.05, 80% power).
Clinical Trial Registration
ISCTRN5397431
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-17
PMCID: PMC1988834  PMID: 17697343
15.  The unmet need for Emergency Obstetric Care in Tanga Region, Tanzania 
Background
Improving maternal health by reducing maternal mortality constitutes the fifth Millennium Development Goal and represents a key public health challenge in the United Republic of Tanzania. In response to the need to evaluate and monitor safe motherhood interventions, this study aims at assessing the coverage of obstetric care according to the Unmet Obstetric Need (UON) concept by obtaining information on indications for, and outcomes of, major obstetric interventions. Furthermore, we explore whether this concept can be operationalised at district level.
Methods
A two year study using the Unmet Obstetric Need concept was carried out in three districts in Tanga Region, Tanzania. Data was collected prospectively at all four hospitals in the region for every woman undergoing a major obstetric intervention, including indication and outcome. The concept was adapted to address differentials in access to emergency obstetric care between districts and between rural and urban areas. Based upon literature and expert consensus, a threshold of 2% of all deliveries was used to define the expected minimum requirement of major obstetric interventions performed for absolute maternal indications.
Results
Protocols covering 1,260 complicated deliveries were analysed. The percentage of major obstetric interventions carried out in response to an absolute maternal indication was only 71%; most major obstetric interventions (97%) were caesarean sections. The most frequent indication was cephalo-pelvic-disproportion (51%). The proportion of major obstetric interventions for absolute maternal indications performed amongst women living in urban areas was 1.8% of all deliveries, while in rural areas it was only 0.7%. The high proportion (8.3%) of negative maternal outcomes in terms of morbidity and mortality, as well as the high perinatal mortality of 9.1% (still birth 6.9%, dying within 24 hours 1.7%, dying after 24 hours 0.5%) raise concern about the quality of care being provided.
Conclusion
Based on the 2% threshold, Tanga Region – with an overall level of major obstetric interventions for absolute maternal indications of 1% and a caesarean section rate of 1.4% – has significant unmet obstetric need with a considerable rural-urban disparity. The UON concept was found to be a suitable tool for evaluating and monitoring the coverage of obstetric care at district level.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-16
PMCID: PMC1988833  PMID: 17683590
16.  Experiences of non-progressive and augmented labour among nulliparous women: a qualitative interview study in a Grounded Theory approach 
Background
Non-progressive labour is the most common complication in nulliparas and is primarily treated by augmentation. Augmented labour is often terminated by instrumental delivery. Little qualitative research has addressed experiences of non-progressive and augmented deliveries. The aim of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of the experience of non-progressive and augmented labour among nulliparas and their experience of the care they received.
Methods
A qualitative study was conducted using individual interviews. Data was collected and analysed according to the Grounded Theory method. The participants were a purposive sample of ten women. The interviews were conducted 4–15 weeks after delivery.
Results
The women had contrasting experiences during the birth process. During labour there was a conflict between the expectation of having a natural delivery and actually having a medical delivery. The women experienced a feeling of separation between mind and body. Interacting with the midwife had a major influence on feelings of losing and regaining control. Reconciliation between the contrasting feelings during labour was achieved. The core category was named Dialectical Birth Process and comprised three categories: Balancing natural and medical delivery, Interacting, Losing and regaining control.
Conclusion
A dialectical process was identified in these women's experiences of non-progressive labour. The process is susceptible to interaction with the midwife; especially her support to the woman's feeling of being in control. Midwives should secure that the woman's recognition of the fact that the labour is non-progressive and augmentation is required is handled with respect for the dialectical process. Augmentation of labour should be managed as close to the course of natural labour and delivery as possible.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-15
PMCID: PMC1971051  PMID: 17662152
17.  Induction of labour versus expectant monitoring in women with pregnancy induced hypertension or mild preeclampsia at term: the HYPITAT trial 
Background
Hypertensive disorders, i.e. pregnancy induced hypertension and preeclampsia, complicate 10 to15% of all pregnancies at term and are a major cause of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. The only causal treatment is delivery. In case of preterm pregnancies conservative management is advocated if the risks for mother and child remain acceptable. In contrast, there is no consensus on how to manage mild hypertensive disease in pregnancies at term. Induction of labour might prevent maternal and neonatal complications at the expense of increased instrumental vaginal delivery rates and caesarean section rates.
Methods/Design
Women with a pregnancy complicated by pregnancy induced hypertension or mild preeclampsia at a gestational age between 36+0 and 41+0 weeks will be asked to participate in a multi-centre randomised controlled trial. Women will be randomised to either induction of labour or expectant management for spontaneous delivery. The primary outcome of this study is severe maternal morbidity, which can be complicated by maternal mortality in rare cases. Secondary outcome measures are neonatal mortality and morbidity, caesarean and vaginal instrumental delivery rates, maternal quality of life and costs. Analysis will be by intention to treat. In total, 720 pregnant women have to be randomised to show a reduction in severe maternal complications of hypertensive disease from 12 to 6%.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence as to whether or not induction of labour in women with pregnancy induced hypertension or mild preeclampsia (nearly) at term is an effective treatment to prevent severe maternal complications.
Trial Registration
The protocol is registered in the clinical trial register number ISRCTN08132825.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-14
PMCID: PMC1950708  PMID: 17662114
18.  A randomised clinical trial on cardiotocography plus fetal blood sampling versus cardiotocography plus ST-analysis of the fetal electrocardiogram (STAN®) for intrapartum monitoring 
Background
Cardiotocography (CTG) is worldwide the method for fetal surveillance during labour. However, CTG alone shows many false positive test results and without fetal blood sampling (FBS), it results in an increase in operative deliveries without improvement of fetal outcome. FBS requires additional expertise, is invasive and has often to be repeated during labour. Two clinical trials have shown that a combination of CTG and ST-analysis of the fetal electrocardiogram (ECG) reduces the rates of metabolic acidosis and instrumental delivery. However, in both trials FBS was still performed in the ST-analysis arm, and it is therefore still unknown if the observed results were indeed due to the ST-analysis or to the use of FBS in combination with ST-analysis.
Methods/Design
We aim to evaluate the effectiveness of non-invasive monitoring (CTG + ST-analysis) as compared to normal care (CTG + FBS), in a multicentre randomised clinical trial setting. Secondary aims are: 1) to judge whether ST-analysis of fetal electrocardiogram can significantly decrease frequency of performance of FBS or even replace it; 2) perform a cost analysis to establish the economic impact of the two treatment options.
Women in labour with a gestational age ≥ 36 weeks and an indication for CTG-monitoring can be included in the trial.
Eligible women will be randomised for fetal surveillance with CTG and, if necessary, FBS or CTG combined with ST-analysis of the fetal ECG.
The primary outcome of the study is the incidence of serious metabolic acidosis (defined as pH < 7.05 and Bdecf > 12 mmol/L in the umbilical cord artery). Secondary outcome measures are: instrumental delivery, neonatal outcome (Apgar score, admission to a neonatal ward), incidence of performance of FBS in both arms and cost-effectiveness of both monitoring strategies across hospitals.
The analysis will follow the intention to treat principle. The incidence of metabolic acidosis will be compared across both groups. Assuming a reduction of metabolic acidosis from 3.5% to 2.1 %, using a two-sided test with an alpha of 0.05 and a power of 0.80, in favour of CTG plus ST-analysis, about 5100 women have to be randomised. Furthermore, the cost-effectiveness of CTG and ST-analysis as compared to CTG and FBS will be studied.
Discussion
This study will provide data about the use of intrapartum ST-analysis with a strict protocol for performance of FBS to limit its incidence. We aim to clarify to what extent intrapartum ST-analysis can be used without the performance of FBS and in which cases FBS is still needed.
Trial Registration Number
ISRCTN95732366
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-13
PMCID: PMC1976105  PMID: 17655764
19.  Disproportionate Intrauterine Growth Intervention Trial At Term: DIGITAT 
Background
Around 80% of intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) infants are born at term. They have an increase in perinatal mortality and morbidity including behavioral problems, minor developmental delay and spastic cerebral palsy. Management is controversial, in particular the decision whether to induce labour or await spontaneous delivery with strict fetal and maternal surveillance. We propose a randomised trial to compare effectiveness, costs and maternal quality of life for induction of labour versus expectant management in women with a suspected IUGR fetus at term.
Methods/design
The proposed trial is a multi-centre randomised study in pregnant women who are suspected on clinical grounds of having an IUGR child at a gestational age between 36+0 and 41+0 weeks. After informed consent women will be randomly allocated to either induction of labour or expectant management with maternal and fetal monitoring. Randomisation will be web-based. The primary outcome measure will be a composite neonatal morbidity and mortality. Secondary outcomes will be severe maternal morbidity, maternal quality of life and costs. Moreover, we aim to assess neurodevelopmental and neurobehavioral outcome at two years as assessed by a postal enquiry (Child Behavioral Check List-CBCL and Ages and Stages Questionnaire-ASQ). Analysis will be by intention to treat. Quality of life analysis and a preference study will also be performed in the same study population. Health technology assessment with an economic analysis is part of this so called Digitat trial (Disproportionate Intrauterine Growth Intervention Trial At Term). The study aims to include 325 patients per arm.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence for which strategy is superior in terms of neonatal and maternal morbidity and mortality, costs and maternal quality of life aspects. This will be the first randomised trial for IUGR at term.
Trial registration
Dutch Trial Register and ISRCTN-Register: ISRCTN10363217.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-12
PMCID: PMC1933438  PMID: 17623077
20.  Induction of labour versus expectant management in women with preterm prelabour rupture of membranes between 34 and 37 weeks (the PPROMEXIL-trial) 
Background
Preterm prelabour rupture of the membranes (PPROM) is an important clinical problem and a dilemma for the gynaecologist. On the one hand, awaiting spontaneous labour increases the probability of infectious disease for both mother and child, whereas on the other hand induction of labour leads to preterm birth with an increase in neonatal morbidity (e.g., respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)) and a possible rise in the number of instrumental deliveries.
Methods/Design
We aim to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of immediate delivery after PPROM in near term gestation compared to expectant management. Pregnant women with preterm prelabour rupture of the membranes at a gestational age from 34+0 weeks until 37+0 weeks will be included in a multicentre prospective randomised controlled trial. We will compare early delivery with expectant monitoring.
The primary outcome of this study is neonatal sepsis. Secondary outcome measures are maternal morbidity (chorioamnionitis, puerperal sepsis) and neonatal disease, instrumental delivery rate, maternal quality of life, maternal preferences and costs. We anticipate that a reduction of neonatal infection from 7.5% to 2.5% after induction will outweigh an increase in RDS and additional costs due to admission of the child due to prematurity. Under these assumptions, we aim to randomly allocate 520 women to two groups of 260 women each. Analysis will be by intention to treat. Additionally a cost-effectiveness analysis will be performed to evaluate if the cost related to early delivery will outweigh those of expectant management. Long term outcomes will be evaluated using modelling.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence as to whether induction of labour after preterm prelabour rupture of membranes is an effective and cost-effective strategy to reduce the risk of neonatal sepsis.
Controlled clinical trial register
ISRCTN29313500
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-11
PMCID: PMC1934382  PMID: 17617892
21.  When outcome is a balance: methods to measure combined utility for the choice between induction of labour and expectant management in mild risk pregnancy at term 
Background
When the primary and secondary outcomes of clinical studies yield ambiguous or conflicting recommendations, preference or valuation studies may help to overcome the decision problem. The present preference study is attached to two clinical studies (DIGTAT, ISRCT10363217; HYPITAT, ISRCT08132825) that evaluate induction of labour versus expectant management in term pregnancies with a mild risk profile. The purpose of the present study is to compare four methods of valuation/preference measurement.
Methods
Multidimensional health state descriptions ('vignettes') defined by attributes and levels are presented to different response groups: laypersons, (ex-) patients, and medical experts. Valuations/preferences are measured with the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), Time Trade-Off (TTO), Willingness to Pay (WTP) and Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE) techniques. These methods are compared in terms of feasibility, reliability and validity.
Anticipated results
By comparing the four techniques, we aim to answer (1) which of the techniques is most feasible, reliable and valid for use in multidimensional decision problems; (2) which of the techniques can be recommended for use in economic evaluations, and (3) do different response groups produce systematically different valuations, and if so, how can these be used to interpret preference results and to contribute to the development of clinical guidelines.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-10
PMCID: PMC1949408  PMID: 17610715
22.  A systematic review of maternal obesity and breastfeeding intention, initiation and duration 
Background
Breastfeeding behaviour is multifactorial, and a wide range of socio-cultural and physiological variables impact on a woman's decision and ability to breastfeed successfully. An association has been reported between maternal obesity and low breastfeeding rates. This is of public health concern because obesity is rising in women of reproductive age and the apparent association with increased artificial feeding will lead to a greater risk of obesity in children. The aim of this paper is to examine the relationship between maternal overweight and obesity and breastfeeding intention and initiation and duration.
Methods
A systematic review was conducted in January and February 2007, using the following databases: Medline, CINAHL and the Australian Breastfeeding Association's Lactation Resource Centre. Studies which have examined maternal obesity and infant feeding intention, initiation, duration and delayed onset of lactation were tabulated and summarised.
Results
Studies have found that obese women plan to breastfeed for a shorter period than normal weight women and are less likely to initiate breastfeeding. Of the four studies that examined onset of lactation, three reported a significant relationship between obesity and delayed lactogenesis. Fifteen studies, conducted in the USA, Australia, Denmark, Kuwait and Russia, have examined maternal obesity and duration of breastfeeding. The majority of large studies found that obese women breastfed for a shorter duration than normal weight women, even after adjusting for possible confounding factors.
Conclusion
There is evidence from epidemiological studies that overweight and obese women are less likely to breastfeed than normal weight women. The reasons may be biological or they may be psychological, behavioral and/or cultural. We urgently need qualitative studies from women's perspective to help us understand women in this situation and their infant feeding decisions and behaviour.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-9
PMCID: PMC1937008  PMID: 17608952
23.  Traditional beliefs and practices in the postpartum period in Fujian Province, China: a qualitative study 
Background
Zuo yuezi is the month postpartum in China associated with a variety of traditional beliefs and practices. We explored the current status of zuo yuezi from social, cultural and western medical perspectives.
Methods
We interviewed family members (36) and health workers (8) in Fujian Province, selecting one rural and one rapidly developing urban county. We asked about their traditional beliefs and their behaviour postpartum. We used a framework approach to identify main themes. We categorised reported behaviour against their probable effects on health, drawing on Western standards.
Results
Respondents reported that zuo yuezi was commonly practiced in urban and rural families to help the mother regain her strength and protect her future health. Zuo yuezi included: dietary precautions, such as eating more food and avoiding cold food; behavioural precautions, such as staying inside the home, avoiding housework and limiting visitors; hygiene precautions, such as restricting bathing and dental hygiene; and practices associated with infant feeding, including supplementary feeding and giving honeysuckle herb to the infant. Respondents reported that the main reasons for adhering to these practices were respect for tradition, and following the advice of elders. Categorised against Western medical standards, several zuo yuezi practices are beneficial, including eating more, eating protein rich food, avoiding housework, and daily vulval and perineal hygiene. A few are potentially harmful, including giving honeysuckle herb, and avoiding dental hygiene. Some women reported giving infants supplementary feeds, although zuo yuezi emphasises breast feeding.
Conclusion
Zuo yuezi is an important ritual in Fujian. In medical terms, most practices are beneficial, and could be used by health staff to promote health in this period. Further research on reported potentially harmful practices, such as supplements to breast feeding, is needed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-8
PMCID: PMC1913060  PMID: 17584930
24.  Progesterone for the prevention of preterm birth in women with multiple pregnancies: the AMPHIA trial 
Background
15% of multiple pregnancies ends in a preterm delivery, which can lead to mortality and severe long term neonatal morbidity. At present, no generally accepted strategy for the prevention of preterm birth in multiple pregnancies exists. Prophylactic administration of 17-alpha hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17OHPC) has proven to be effective in the prevention of preterm birth in women with singleton pregnancies with a previous preterm delivery. At present, there are no data on the effectiveness of progesterone in the prevention of preterm birth in multiple pregnancies.
Methods/Design
We aim to investigate the hypothesis that 17OHPC will reduce the incidence of the composite neonatal morbidity of neonates by reducing the early preterm birth rate in multiple pregnancies. Women with a multiple pregnancy at a gestational age between 15 and 20 weeks of gestation will be entered in a placebo-controlled, double blinded randomised study comparing weekly 250 mg 17OHPC intramuscular injections from 16–20 weeks up to 36 weeks of gestation versus placebo. At study entry, cervical length will be measured. The primary outcome is composite bad neonatal condition (perinatal death or severe morbidity). Secondary outcome measures are time to delivery, preterm birth rate before 32 and 37 weeks, days of admission in neonatal intensive care unit, maternal morbidity, maternal admission days for preterm labour and costs. We need to include 660 women to indicate a reduction in bad neonatal outcome from 15% to 8%. Analysis will be by intention to treat. We will also analyse whether the treatment effect is dependent on cervical length.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence as to whether or not 17OHPC-treatment is an effective means of preventing bad neonatal outcome due to preterm birth in multiple pregnancies.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN40512715
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-7
PMCID: PMC1914085  PMID: 17578562

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