A 7-day, international, prospective, observational cohort study was done in patients having caesarean delivery in 183 hospitals across 22 countries in Africa. The primary outcome was in-hospital maternal mortality and complications, which were assessed by local investigators. Findings suggest that maternal mortality after caesarean delivery in Africa is 50 times higher than that of high-income countries and is driven by peripartum haemorrhage and anaesthesia complications. Neonatal mortality is double the global average. Early identification and appropriate management of mothers at risk of peripartum haemorrhage might improve maternal and neonatal outcomes in Africa.

4th April 2019 • comment

The authors aimed to assess the capacity of globally used, large-scale facility assessment tools to measure quality of maternal and newborn care as per the WHO framework. Findings suggest that existing facility assessment tools provide a valuable way to assess quality of maternal and newborn care as one element within the national measurement toolkit. Guidance is clearly needed on priority measures and for better harmonisation across tools to reduce measurement burden and increase data use for quality improvement. Targeted development of measurement modules to address important gaps is a key priority for research.

4th April 2019 • comment

The latest findings from the international INTERGROWTH-21st Project, that has monitored healthy, urban children from educated families across four continents from early pregnancy to 2 years of age, show that human neurodevelopment is not influenced by the colour of an individual’s skin.

12th February 2019 • comment

Using data from a large sample of commercially insured women, the authors sought to assess whether there was an increase in long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) utilization among commercially insured women during the 30 days after the election, compared with the 30 days before the election and the same period in 2015.

11th February 2019 • comment

HIV-exposed but uninfected (HEU) infants are at an increased risk of many infectious diseases that can contribute to the high mortality seen among HEU children. Maternal immunisation could be a promising strategy to reduce infections in HEU infants. However, very little research has explored the effect of HIV on the immunogenicity and effectiveness of vaccines given during pregnancy. The authors reviewed the available evidence on maternal immunisation among women living with HIV (WLWH) for all vaccines recommended, considered, or being investigated for routine or risk-based use during pregnancy. Of the 11 vaccines included, only three have been investigated in WLWH. Available evidence suggests that maternal HIV infection limits the immunogenicity of several vaccines, leaving HEU infants more susceptible to infection during their first few months of life. Whether maternal immunisation reduces the infectious morbidity and mortality associated with infectious diseases in HEU children remains unknown.

17th December 2018 • comment

Malawi's Ministry of Health led the National Evaluation of Malawi's PMTCT Program to obtain nationally representative data on maternal ART coverage and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) effectiveness. This paper presents the early transmission data for infants aged 4–12 weeks. In multivariable logistic regression analysis, the odds of early MTCT were higher in mothers starting ART post partum (adjusted odds ratio 16·7, 95% CI 1·6–171·5; p=0·022) and in those not on ART with an unknown HIV status during pregnancy (19·1, 8·5–43·0; p<0·0001) than in mothers on ART before pregnancy. Among HIV-exposed infants, 98·0% (95% CI 96·9–99·1) were reported by the mother to have received infant nevirapine prophylaxis, and only 45·6% (34·8–56·4) were already enrolled in an exposed infant HIV care clinic at the time of study screening. These data suggest that Malawi's decentralisation of ART services has resulted in higher ART coverage and lower early MTCT. However, the uptake of services for HIV-exposed infants remains suboptimal.

4th December 2018 • comment

In this prospective cohort study done in 11 community-based research sites in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, between July, 2012, and February, 2016, the authors conducted population-based surveillance of women of reproductive age (15-49 years) to identify pregnancies, which were followed up to birth and 42 days post partum. These results will contribute to improved global estimates of rates, timing, and causes of maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths. The findings imply that programmes in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia need to further intensify their efforts to reduce mortality rates, which continue to be high. The focus on improving the quality of maternal intrapartum care and immediate newborn care must be further enhanced. Efforts to address perinatal asphyxia and newborn infections, as well as preterm birth, are critical to achieving survival goals in the Sustainable Development Goals era.

5th November 2018 • comment
10th August 2018 • comment

In a quasi-experimental trial design, unions with an average population of about 25 000 and a first level health facility were allocated to an intervention arm (n = 4) to receive integrated post-partum family planning and maternal and newborn health (PPFP-MNH) interventions, or to a control arm (n = 4) to receive the MNH interventions only. Study findings demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of integrating PPFP interventions into a community based MNH intervention package. Thus, MNH programs should consider systematically integrating PPFP as a service component to improve pregnancy spacing and reduce the risk of preterm birth.

30th July 2018 • comment

The aim of this study was to determine whether an intervention designed to involve the male partners of pregnant women in Burkina Faso in facility-based maternity care influences care-seeking and healthy practices after childbirth. The hypothesis was that the intervention would increase postnatal care attendance, the duration of exclusive breastfeeding and the use of postpartum contraception. Findings suggest that the intervention to involve male partners in maternity care was associated with an increase in attendance at postnatal care consultations, in the duration of exclusive breastfeeding and in the use of postpartum contraception, especially long-acting, reversible contraception. The intervention also had a positive effect on communication between the couple and shared decision-making related to reproductive health. 

10th July 2018 • comment

Improving maternal and child nutrition in resource-poor settings requires effective use of limited resources, but priority-setting is constrained by limited information about program costs and impacts, especially for interventions designed to improve diet quality. This study utilized a mixed methods approach to identify, describe and estimate the potential costs and impacts on child dietary intake of 12 nutrition-sensitive programs in Ethiopia, Nigeria and India. Findings suggest that existing evidence on cost-effectiveness for nutrition improvement focuses on interventions to address specific diseases. Future work using these data will analyse net cost-effectiveness.

22nd March 2018 • comment