The objective was to investigate racial and ethnic differences in unexpected, term newborn morbidity and the influence of hospital quality on disparities. Findings suggest that Black and Hispanic women were more likely to deliver in hospitals with high complication rates than were white or Asian American women. Findings implicate hospital quality in contributing to preventable newborn health disparities among low-risk, term births. Quality improvement targeting routine obstetric and neonatal care is critical for equity in perinatal outcomes. 

21st September 2021 • 0 comments

Given the trend of increasing maternal age and associated adverse reproductive outcomes in the US, this study aimed to assess whether this association is due to an independent aging or confounded by sociodemographic, biomedical, or behavioral determinants in a predominantly Black US population.  In this high-risk minority population, findings demonstrated that the association between increasing maternal age and adverse pregnancy outcomes was due to an independent aging effect and the presence of confounding by sociodemographic, biomedical, and behavioral factors. Some modifiable risk factors to counteract aging effect, include optimizing BMI and consistent intake of multivitamin supplement. A fundamental change in how care is provided to women, particularly low income Black women, is needed with emphasis on the protective role of optimal nutritional status.

21st September 2021 • 0 comments

The study objectives were to determine perinatal outcomes after an OUD diagnosis and associations between opioid agonist treatment and birth outcomes. Findings suggest that perinatal OUD in British Columbia tripled in incidence over a 20-year period. Sustained opioid agonist treatment during pregnancy reduced the risk of adverse birth outcomes, highlighting the need for expanded services, including opioid agonist treatment to support mothers and infants.

21st September 2021 • 0 comments

The objective of the study was to examine whether the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic altered risk of adverse pregnancy-related outcomes and whether there were differences by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection status among pregnant women. Findings suggest that in a geographically diverse U.S. cohort, the frequency of adverse pregnancy-related outcomes did not differ between those delivering before compared with during the pandemic, nor between those classified as positive compared with negative for SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy.

21st September 2021 • 0 comments

The objective of the study was to evaluate the effect of race and ethnicity on differences in maternal and perinatal outcomes among U.S.-born and foreign-born women, as well as racial and ethnic disparities in outcomes within these groups. Overall, women born in the United States are at higher risk of several adverse perinatal outcomes compared to foreign-born women. Racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes exist in both groups. However, the complex interplay between biopsychosocial influences that mediate these inequities appear to have different effects among U.S- and foreign- born women. A better understanding of these factors can be used to combat disparities and improve outcomes for all women.

31st August 2021 • 0 comments

The study objectives were to estimate more realistic travel times for pregnant women in emergency situations using Google Maps, determine system-level factors that influence travel time and use these estimates to assess CEmOC geographical accessibility and coverage in Lagos state, Nigeria. Findings suggest that actions taken to address gaps need to be contextualized. Our approach provides a useful guide for stakeholders seeking to comprehensively explore geographical inequities in CEmOC access within urban/peri-urban LMIC settings.

31st August 2021 • 0 comments

The objective of the study was to assess the effect of short birth interval (SBI) on neonatal, infant, and under-five mortality in Ethiopia. Findings suggest that SBI has a significant effect on neonatal, infant and under-five mortality in Ethiopia. Interventions targeting SBI are warranted to reduce neonatal, infant and under-five mortality.

31st August 2021 • 0 comments

This study aimed to quantify any independent association between COVID-19 during pregnancy and preeclampsia and to determine the effect of these variables on maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. Findings from this study suggests that COVID-19 during pregnancy is strongly associated with preeclampsia, especially among nulliparous women. This association is independent of any risk factors and preexisting conditions. COVID-19 severity does not seem to be a factor in this association. Both conditions are associated independently of and in an additive fashion with preterm birth, severe perinatal morbidity and mortality, and adverse maternal outcomes. Women with preeclampsia should be considered a particularly vulnerable group with regard to the risks posed by COVID-19.

2nd August 2021 • 0 comments

The objective of this study is to describe infant mortality among opioid-exposed infants and identify how mortality risk differs in opioid-exposed infants with and without a diagnosis of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) compared with infants without opioid exposure. In this study, opioid-exposed infants appeared to be at increased risk of mortality, and the treatments and supports provided to those diagnosed with NOWS may be protective. Interventions to support opioid-exposed maternal-infant dyads are warranted, regardless of the perceived severity of neonatal opioid withdrawal.

2nd August 2021 • 0 comments

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors developed and implemented a new antenatal care schedule integrating telehealth across all models of pregnancy care and assessed the effectiveness and safety of telehealth in antenatal care. Findings from this study suggest that telehealth integrated antenatal care enabled the reduction of in-person consultations by 50% without compromising pregnancy outcomes. This care model can help to minimise in-person interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic, but should also be considered in post-pandemic health-care models.

2nd August 2021 • 0 comments

Global health experts have described loss of autonomy and disrespect as mistreatment. Risk of disrespect and abuse is higher when patient and care provider opinions differ, but little is known about service users experiences when declining aspects of their maternity care. To address this gap, the authors present a qualitative content analysis of 1540 written accounts from 892 service users declining or refusing care options throughout childbearing with a large, geographically representative sample (2900) of childbearing women in British Columbia who participated in an online survey with open-ended questions eliciting care experiences. 

28th June 2021 • 0 comments

This study aimed to verify the relationship between the maternal mortality ratio and the incidence of COVID-19 in the State of Bahia, Brazil, 2020. The study revealed the increase in maternal mortality, and its temporal relationship with the incidence of COVID-19, in Bahia, Brazil, in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic may be directly and indirectly related to this increase, which needs to be investigated. An urgent public health action is needed to prevent and reduce maternal deaths during this pandemic, in Brazil.

28th June 2021 • 0 comments

This international study sought to identify and measure the associations between pandemic-related information seeking, worries, and prevention behaviors on perinatal mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. An anonymous, online, cross-sectional survey of pregnant and postpartum women was conducted in 64 countries between May 26, 2020 and June 13, 2020. Based on the study findings, public health campaigns and medical care systems need to explicitly address the impact of COVID-19 related stressors on mental health in perinatal women, as prevention of viral exposure itself does not mitigate the pandemic's mental health impact.

11th May 2021 • 0 comments

 This randomized, longitudinal, clinical trial was carried out in 2018-2019 on 154 pregnant women in early to late pregnancy who presented to comprehensive health centers in Rasht, Iran, and were divided into three groups: Group A or the training group (50 participants), Group B or the self-training group (53 participants), and Group C or the control group (51 participants). The results obtained in the intervention group compared to the control group revealed the effectiveness of the sexual health education package in terms of improvement in the dimensions of sexual health. According to the results, in order to maintain and promote the sexual health of pregnant women, health care providers are recommended to offer sexual health training during pregnancy along with other health care services.

11th May 2021 • 0 comments

The objective of this study was to evaluate neonatal outcomes in relation to maternal SARS-CoV-2 test positivity in pregnancy.  In a nationwide cohort of infants in Sweden, maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy was significantly associated with small increases in some neonatal morbidities. Given the small numbers of events for many of the outcomes and the large number of statistical comparisons, the findings should be interpreted as exploratory.

11th May 2021 • 0 comments

The objective of the study was to  evaluate the risks associated with COVID-19 in pregnancy on maternal and neonatal outcomes compared with not-infected, concomitant pregnant individuals. In this multinational cohort study, COVID-19 in pregnancy was associated with consistent and substantial increases in severe maternal morbidity and mortality and neonatal complications when pregnant women with and without COVID-19 diagnosis were compared. The findings should alert pregnant individuals and clinicians to implement strictly all the recommended COVID-19 preventive measures.

11th May 2021 • 0 comments

The study assessed whether providing contraceptive counseling during pregnancy and/or prior to discharge from the hospital for birth or after discharge from the hospital for birth was associated with reduced postpartum unmet need in Nepal. Findings suggest that counseling women either before or after discharge reduces unmet need for postpartum contraception but counseling in both periods is most effective.

13th April 2021 • 0 comments

The objective of this study was to determine whether reclassification of hypertensive status using the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) guideline definition better identifies women at risk for preeclampsia or eclampsia and adverse fetal/neonatal events compared with the current American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) definition of hypertension. Findings suggest that using the lower diagnostic threshold for hypertension recommended in the 2017 ACC/AHA guideline increased the prevalence of chronic and gestational hypertension, markedly improved the appropriate identification of women who would go on to develop preeclampsia, and was associated with the identification of adverse fetal/neonatal risk.

13th April 2021 • comment

In this study, the authors aimed to assess and report the clinical effectiveness of the new Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) service on key maternal and infant health outcomes compared with that of standard care. This study has shown the clinical effectiveness of the BiOC service, which was co-designed by stakeholders and underpinned by Birthing on Country principles. The widespread scale-up of this new service should be prioritised. Dedicated funding, knowledge translation, and implementation science are needed to ensure all First Nations families can access Birthing on Country services that are adapted for their specific contexts.

31st March 2021 • comment

The objective of the study was to investigate associations of maternal hypertensive disorders of pregnanc (HDP) with risks in offspring of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and intellectual disability (ID), as well as variation in overall cognitive performance in offspring. The study results suggest that HDP are associated with small increased risks of ASDs and possibly ADHD in offspring, whereas associations with ID and cognitive performance are likely confounded by shared familial (environmental or genetic) factors. 

31st March 2021 • comment

The objective of this study was to compare maternal complications and describe neonatal outcomes in women with severe preeclampsia at ≤ 26+0 weeks in two countries with different management policies: expectant management (Brazil) versus termination of pregnancy (France). When comparing termination of pregnancy to expectant management in severe preeclampsia before 26 weeks, maternal complications were equivalent but maternal reproductive future might have been compromised in 20% of cases due to a higher risk of uterine rupture in subsequent pregnancies for patients having classic cesarean (vertical incision). 26.6% of children survived the neonatal period when pregnancy was pursued, however we lack information on their long-term follow-up.

16th February 2021 • comment

The authors aimed to identify and compare modifiable risk factors associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes in women with type 1 diabetes and those with type 2 diabetes and to identify effective maternity clinics. The data highlight persistent adverse pregnancy outcomes in women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Maternal glycaemia and BMI are the key modifiable risk factors. No maternity clinics were had appreciably better outcomes than any others, suggesting that health-care system changes are needed across all clinics.

16th February 2021 • comment

The objective of this study was to describe disease severity and outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infections in pregnancy across Washington State including pregnancy complications and outcomes, hospitalization, and case fatality. Findings suggest that COVID-19 hospitalization and case fatality rates in pregnant patients were significantly higher compared to similarly aged adults in Washington State. This data indicates that pregnant patients are at risk for severe or critical disease and mortality compared to non-pregnant adults, as well as preterm birth.

16th February 2021 • comment

This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of domestic violence and its relationship with quality of life in pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings of this study indicate a high prevalence of domestic violence and its relationship with a low quality of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the findings signify the importance of screening pregnant women in terms of domestic violence in respective centers as well as the necessity of conducting proper interventions to address domestic violence to improve the quality of life in women.

16th February 2021 • comment

A retrospective before and after study was conducted of all women giving birth in a high-volume month pre-restriction (August 2017; n = 1034) and a low-volume month post-restriction (November 2017; n = 436). Birth outcomes were assessed for all births (mode of birth, stillbirths, intra-facility neonatal deaths, and Apgar score < 7). Quality of intrapartum care was assessed by a criterion-based audit of all caesarean sections (n = 108 and n = 82) and of 250 randomly selected vaginal births in each month. Findings suggest that assumptions regarding quality of care in periods of high demand may be misguiding - resilience to maintain quality of care was strong. The authors recommend health actors to closely monitor changes in quality of care when implementing resource changes; to enable safe care during birth for as many women as possible.

20th January 2021 • comment

In this epidemiological case-control study, the authors collected data from Demographic and Health Surveys from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh for the period 1998–2016 for women who reported at least one pregnancy loss and one or more livebirths. The authors assessed ambient exposure during gestation with satellite-based PM2·5 measurements for the period. The findings add to epidemiological evidence of the association between pregnancy loss and PM2·5. Suboptimal air quality contributes to a considerable fraction of total pregnancy loss in south Asia. Controlling PM2·5 pollution will promote maternal health in south Asia.

20th January 2021 • comment

Given differences in preterm birth across populations, the authors examined a diverse urban cohort in the US to determine if preterm birth, spontaneous preterm birth, medically indicated preterm birth, and stillbirth rates have changed during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. This study did not detect significant changes in preterm or stillbirth rates during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in a racially diverse urban cohort from 2 Philadelphia hospitals. Although these data allow for disaggregation of spontaneous and medically indicated preterm births, no differences in overall rates of these phenotypes were detected.

14th December 2020 • comment

This study assessed the National Health Service hospital admissions in England from April 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, using annual Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data (April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020) and monthly data available as Secondary Uses Service (April 1 to June 30, 2020). Findings suggest that there was no evidence of any increase in stillbirths regionally or nationally during the COVID-19 pandemic in England when compared with the same months in the previous year and despite variable community SARS-CoV-2 incidence rates in different regions.

14th December 2020 • comment

The authors examined maternal and neonatal cord blood levels of lead, cadmium, manganese, and mercury after supplementation with vitamin D during pregnancy. The findings suggest that vitamin D supplementation from the second trimester of pregnancy did not influence maternal cadmium, mercury, or manganese levels at delivery. Vitamin D was associated with nonsignificant increases in maternal lead and with significant increases in cord blood lead and cadmium. These associations were not dose dependent. Given that there are no safe levels of metals in infants, the observed increases in cord blood lead and cadmium require further exploration.

3rd December 2020 • comment

The authors aim to describe the outcomes of severe and critical COVID-19 infection in pregnant versus non-pregnant reproductive aged women. Findings suggest that pregnant women with severe and/or critical COVID-19 are at increased risk for certain morbidities when compared to non-pregnant controls. Despite the higher comorbidities of diabetes and hypertension in the non-pregnant controls, the pregnant cases were at increased risk for composite morbidity, intubation, mechanical ventilation and ICU admission. These findings suggest that pregnancy may be associated with a worse outcome in women with severe and critical COVID-19. The study suggests that similar to other viral infections such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, pregnant women may be at risk for greater morbidity and disease severity.

3rd December 2020 • comment

The authors aimed to estimate the cost-effectiveness of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (IPTp-DP) versus IPTp-SP to prevent clinical malaria infection (and its sequelae) during pregnancy. Findings suggest that among HIV-negative pregnant women with high uptake of long-lasting insecticidal nets, IPTp-DP is cost-effective in areas with high malaria transmission and high sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistance. These data provide a comprehensive overview of the current evidence on the cost-effectiveness of IPTp-DP. Nevertheless, before a policy change is advocated, we recommend further research into the effectiveness and costs of different regimens of IPTp-DP in settings with different underlying sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistance.

16th November 2020 • comment

Findings suggets that among women in low-resource countries who were at risk for early preterm birth, the use of dexamethasone resulted in significantly lower risks of neonatal death alone and stillbirth or neonatal death than the use of placebo, without an increase in the incidence of possible maternal bacterial infection. 

3rd November 2020 • comment

The authors aimed to estimate the association of Programme for Improving Primary Care Access and Quality (PMAQ) with the provision of maternal and childcare in Brazil, controlling for socioeconomic, geographic and family health team characteristics. Findings suggest that PMAQ has contributed to increase the provision of care to pregnant women and children under 2 years at primary healthcare level. Teams with lower average number of antenatal or child consultations benefited the most by participating in PMAQ, which suggests that PMAQ might motivate worse performing health providers to catch up.

3rd November 2020 • comment

The study aimed to investigate whether cesarean sections and labor induction increase by raising women's awareness of fetal movements through Mindfetalness. Further, we aimed to study perinatal health after implementing Mindfetalness in maternity care. Findings suggest that raising awareness about fetal movements through Mindfetalness decreased the rate of cesarean sections, labor inductions and small-for-gestational age babies.ma

20th October 2020 • comment

The study aimed to study the impact of the COVID-19 mitigation measures implemented in the Netherlands in a stepwise fashion on March 9, March 15, and March 23, 2020, on the incidence of preterm birth. In this national quasi-experimental study, initial implementation of COVID-19 mitigation measures was associated with a substantial reduction in the incidence of preterm births in the following months, in agreement with preliminary observations elsewhere. Integration of comparable data from across the globe is needed to further substantiate these findings and start exploring underlying mechanisms.

20th October 2020 • comment

This retrospective cohort study used linked birth certificate and hospital discharge data for 8609 of the 100,691 self-identifying non-Hispanic Black women with gestational diabetes (GDM) who had a singleton live birth between 20 and 44 weeks gestation in California in 2013-2017. Findings suggest that foreign-born status remained protective of preterm birth (PTB), irrespective of severity and subtype. Preeclampsia, PTB, and GDM share pathophysiologic mechanisms suggesting a need to better understand differences in perinatal stress, chronic disease, and vascular dysfunction based on nativity in future epidemiologic studies and health services research.

20th October 2020 • comment

This is the first study to investigate the possible correlation between maternal post-partum depression (PPD), mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship satisfaction, maternal marital satisfaction, paternal marital satisfaction, and paternal PPD. It is important for future PPD interventions to target both maternal and paternal mental health, as well as the mechanisms identified that can lead to PPD.

5th October 2020 • comment

The authors conducted an online survey with 1219 breastfeeding mothers in the United Kingdom with a baby 0-12 months old to understand the impact of the pandemic upon breastfeeding duration, experiences and support. The results highlighted two very different experiences: 41.8% of mothers felt that breastfeeding was protected due to lockdown, but 27.0% of mothers struggled to get support and had numerous barriers stemming from lockdown with some stopped breastfeeding before they were ready. 

5th October 2020 • comment

In this prospective, multicentre, international, randomised, parallel, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial, women with type 2 diabetes during pregnancy were randomly assigned from 25 centres in Canada and four in Australia to receive either metformin 1000 mg twice daily or placebo, added to insulin. The study found several maternal glycaemic and neonatal adiposity benefits in the metformin group. Along with reduced maternal weight gain and insulin dosage and improved glycaemic control, the lower adiposity and infant size measurements resulted in fewer large infants but a higher proportion of small-for-gestational-age infants. Understanding the implications of these effects on infants will be important to properly advise patients who are contemplating the use of metformin during pregnancy.

5th October 2020 • comment

The objective of this study was to compare neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or special care nursery admission for deliveries with water immersion compared with deliveries in the matched control group without water immersion. Secondary outcomes included adverse neonatal diagnoses, maternal infections, and perineal lacerations. Findings suggest that hospital-based deliveries with second-stage water immersion had lower risk of NICU or special care nursery admission and perineal lacerations than matched deliveries in the control group without water immersion.

21st September 2020 • comment

This prospective, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was done at the Infectious Feto-Maternal Clinic of Rabin Medical Center (Petach Tikvah, Israel). Pregnant women aged 18 years or older, with serological evidence of a primary cytomegalovirus infection acquired either periconceptionally or during the first trimester of pregnancy, were randomly assigned to oral valaciclovir (8 g per day, twice daily) or placebo from enrolment until amniocentesis at 21 or 22 gestational weeks. Findings suggest that valaciclovir is effective in reducing the rate of fetal cytomegalovirus infection after maternal primary infection acquired early in pregnancy. Early treatment of pregnant women with primary infection might prevent termination of pregnancies or delivery of infants with congenital cytomegalovirus

21st September 2020 • comment

The objective of this study was to overcome the three delays in triage, transport and treatment that underlie adverse pregnancy outcomes with community-level interventions targeting women with pregnancy hypertension in three low-income countries. In this individual participant-level meta-analysis, the authors de-identified and pooled data from the Community-Level Interventions for Pre-eclampsia (CLIP) cluster randomised controlled trials in Mozambique, Pakistan, and India, which were run in 2014–17. The CLIP intervention did not reduce adverse pregnancy outcomes. Future community-level interventions should expand the community health worker workforce, assess general (rather than condition-specific) messaging, and include health system strengthening.

10th September 2020 • comment

The objective of the study was to understand severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) testing uptake in the labor and delivery unit and rationales for declining testing, and to institute a process to increase equitable testing uptake. Findings suggest that universal SARS-CoV-2 testing uptake significantly increased through a rapid-cycle improvement initiative. Aligning hospital policy with patient-centered approaches led to nearly universally acceptable testing.

10th September 2020 • comment

The authors aimed to assess the number of institutional births, their outcomes (institutional stillbirth and neonatal mortality rate), and quality of intrapartum care before and during the national COVID-19 lockdown in Nepal. Findings suggest that institutional childbirth reduced by more than half during lockdown, with increases in institutional stillbirth rate and neonatal mortality, and decreases in quality of care. Some behaviours improved, notably hand hygiene and keeping the baby skin-to-skin with their mother. An urgent need exists to protect access to high quality intrapartum care and prevent excess deaths for the most vulnerable health system users during this pandemic period.

24th August 2020 • comment

The objective of this study was to describe clinical characteristics of pregnant and postpartum women with severe COVID-19 in Brazil and to examine risk factors for mortality. The authors identified 124 maternal deaths, corresponding to a case fatality rate among COVID-19 Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) cases in the obstetric population of 12.7%. At least one comorbidity was present in 48.4% of fatal cases compared to 24.9% in survival cases. Among women who died, 58.9% were admitted to ICU, 53.2% had invasive ventilation and 29.0% had no respiratory support. The multivariate logistic regression showed that the main risk factors for maternal death by COVID-19 were postpartum at onset of ARDS, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, while white ethnicity had a protective effect. 

24th August 2020 • comment

The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between deferred delivery in early-onset preeclampsia and offspring outcome and maternal cardiovascular, renal and metabolic function in the postpartum period. Findings suggest that pregnancy prolongation in early-onset preeclampsia is associated with improved offspring outcome and survival. These effects do not appear to be deleterious to short-term maternal cardiovascular and metabolic function, but are associated with a modest increase in risk of residual albuminuria.

10th August 2020 • comment

In this study, the authors aimed to elucidate best practices regarding infection control in mother–newborn dyads, and identify potential risk factors associated with transmission. Data suggest that perinatal transmission of COVID-19 is unlikely to occur if correct hygiene precautions are undertaken, and that allowing neonates to room in with their mothers and direct breastfeeding are safe procedures when paired with effective parental education of infant protective strategies.

10th August 2020 • comment

The authors examined the reproductive health decision-making (RHDM) capacity and pregnancy termination among women of reproductive age in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Findings suggest that women who are capable of taking reproductive health decisions are more likely to terminate pregnancies. Findings also suggest that age, level of education, contraceptive use and intention, place of residence, and parity are associated with pregnancy termination.

10th August 2020 • comment

The authors aimed to assess the effect of a quality improvement package for intrapartum and immediate newborn care on stillbirth and preterm neonatal survival in Kenya and Uganda, where evidence-based practices are often underutilised. This unblinded cluster-randomised controlled trial was done in western Kenya and eastern Uganda at facilities that provide 24-h maternity care with at least 200 births per year. Findings suggests that fresh stillbirth and neonatal mortality among low-birthweight and preterm babies can be decreased using a package of interventions that reinforces evidence-based practices and invests in health system strengthening.

27th July 2020 • comment

The authors developed a model that simultaneously estimated incidence of unintended pregnancy and abortion within a Bayesian framework. The findings suggest that between 1990–94 and 2015–19, the global unintended pregnancy rate has declined, whereas the proportion of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion has increased. As a result, the global average abortion rate in 2015–19 was roughly equal to the estimates for 1990–94. Our findings suggest that people in high-income countries have better access to sexual and reproductive health care than those in low-income countries. Our findings indicate that individuals seek abortion even in settings where it is restricted. These findings emphasise the importance of ensuring access to the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception and abortion care, and for additional investment towards equity in health-care services.

27th July 2020 • comment

The objective of this study was to analyse the cost-effectiveness of Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) in promoting breast-feeding during the first hour of life (BFFHL) and reducing late neonatal mortality. Cost-effectiveness analysis showed that BFHI was highly cost-effective in raising BFFHL by 32·0 % at lower cost in comparison with non-BFHI. In addition, BFHI was cost-effective in reducing late neonatal mortality rate by 13·0 % from all causes and by 13·1 % of infant mortality rate from infections.

27th July 2020 • comment

The objective of the study was to assess the prevalence and severity of COVID-19 among pregnant U.S. women and determine whether signs and symptoms differ among pregnant and nonpregnant women. Findings suggest that among women of reproductive age with COVID-19, pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized and at increased risk for ICU admission and receipt of mechanical ventilation compared with nonpregnant women, but their risk for death is similar. To reduce occurrence of severe illness from COVID-19, pregnant women should be counseled about the potential risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and measures to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 should be emphasized for pregnant women and their families

13th July 2020 • comment

This prospective cohort study aimed to describe differences in outcomes between pregnant women with and without COVID-19. Among pregnant women with COVID-19 at delivery, the study observed increased cesarean delivery rates and increased frequency of maternal complications in the postpartum period. Additionally, intraplacental thrombi may have maternal and fetal implications for COVID-19 infections remote from delivery.

13th July 2020 • comment

The objective of this study was to investigate the clinical evolution of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in hospitalized pregnant women and potential factors associated with severe maternal outcomes. In the study cohort, one in five women hospitalized with COVID-19 infection delivered urgently for respiratory compromise or were admitted to the ICU. None, however, died. Increased pregestational BMI and abnormal heart and respiratory rates on admission were associated with severe disease.

2nd June 2020 • comment

In this trial, the authors investigated whether a primarily telehealth lifestyle intervention reduced excess gestational weight gain (GWG) among women with overweight or obesity. Evidence-based programme showed that health-care delivery systems could further adapt to meet the needs of their clinical settings to prevent excess GWG and improve healthy behaviours and markers of insulin resistance among women with overweight or obesity by using telehealth lifestyle interventions.

2nd June 2020 • comment

The aim of the present study is to examine the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on the prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms and the corresponding risk factors among pregnant women across China. Findings suggest that major life-threatening public health events such as the COVID-19 outbreak may increase the risk for mental illness among pregnant women including thoughts of self-harm. Strategies targeting maternal stress and isolation such as effective risk communication and the provision of psychological first aid may be particularly useful to prevent negative outcomes for women and their fetuses.

2nd June 2020 • comment

The objective of thsi study was to conduct a systematic review of the outcomes reported for pregnant patients with COVID 19. Fidnings suggest that although vertical transmission of SARS-Cov2 has been excluded thus far and the outcome for mothers and fetuses has been generally good, the high rate of preterm cesarean delivery is a reason for concern. These interventions were typically elective, and it is reasonable to question whether they were warranted or not. COVID-19 associated with respiratory insufficiency in late pregnancies certainly creates a complex clinical scenario.

11th May 2020 • comment

The objective of the study was to evaluate the clinical characteristics and outcomes in pregnancy and the vertical transmission potential of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Findings suggest that ARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy is not associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion and spontaneous preterm birth. There is no evidence of vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection when the infection manifests during the third-trimester of pregnancy.

11th May 2020 • comment

The objective of this study was to summarize available evidence and provide perinatologists/neonatologists with tools for managing their patients. As the pandemic continues, more data will be available that could lead to changes in current knowledge and recommendations.

11th May 2020 • comment

The objective of this study was to assess whether vaginal secretions and breast milk of COVID-19 patients contain SARS-CoV-2 virus. In this case series of 13 pregnant women with COVID-19, we observed negative viral test results in vaginal secretion specimens, suggesting that a vaginal delivery may be a safe delivery option. However, additional research is urgently needed to examine breast milk and the potential risk for viral contamination.

11th May 2020 • comment

Facing a Pandemic While Pregnant

by Coral Olazagasti et al

Facing a Pandemic While Pregnant

26th April 2020 • comment

A sexual and reproductive health and justice policy agenda must be at the heart of the COVID-19 response. The response must ensure that universal health coverage includes pregnant women, adolescents, and marginalised groups and must designate sexual and reproductive health, family planning, and community health centres as essential health providers, reallocating resources accordingly.

20th April 2020 • comment

This study, using data collected as part of an ongoing programme evaluation, investigates whether participation in Saving Groups (SGs)-a community-owned microfinance intervention focused on poor households - is associated with maternal health service utilisation, and whether this association is mediated by women's agency - as measured by self-efficacy and decision-making autonomy. This study suggests that the impact of SG membership on use of maternal health services goes beyond improvements in household income and may operate through women's agency by giving women the ability to realize their preference for quality health care.

20th April 2020 • comment

This study aims to observe the clinical features and outcomes of pregnant women who have been confirmed with COVID-19. Findings suggest that the clinical symptoms and laboratory indicators are not obvious for asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 pregnant women. Pulmonary CT scan plus blood routine examination are more suitable for finding pregnancy women with asymptomatic or mild COVID-19 infection, and can be used screening COVID-19 pregnant women in the outbreak area of COVID-19 infection.

20th April 2020 • comment

The study objective was to assess the availability and administration of oxytocin, before and after applying Salud Mesoamérica Initiative interventions in the poorest health facilities across Central America. After interventions to increase health facility supplies, the study showed a significant improvement in availability but not administration of oxytocin in poor communities within Mesoamerica. Efforts are needed to improve the use of oxytocin.

6th April 2020 • comment

This study explores the challenges and potential solutions for effective implementation of maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) programs for FDMNs residing in camps of Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Findings suggest that providing healthcare in an emergency setting has several associated challenges. Considering the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) as the base for identifying different challenges and their potential solutions at a different level of the program can prove to be an excellent asset for the program implementers in designing their plans. Two additional domains, context, and security should be included in the CFIR framework for any humanitarian settings.

6th April 2020 • comment

This study aimed to clarify the clinical features and obstetric and neonatal outcomes of pregnant patients with COVID-19. In this retrospective, single-centre study, the authors included all pregnant women with COVID-19 who were admitted to Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, China. Clinical features, treatments, and maternal and fetal outcomes were assessed. Findings suggest that the maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes of patients who were infected in late pregnancy appeared very good, and these outcomes were achieved with intensive, active management that might be the best practice in the absence of more robust data. The clinical characteristics of these patients with COVID-19 during pregnancy were similar to those of non-pregnant adults with COVID-19 that have been reported in the literature.

6th April 2020 • comment

The authors aimed to assess the safety and clinical effectiveness of intravenous iron sucrose (intervention) versus standard oral iron (control) therapy in the treatment of women with moderate-to-severe iron deficiency anaemia in pregnancy. The study was stopped due to futility. There is insufficient evidence to show the effectiveness of intravenous iron sucrose in reducing clinical outcomes compared with standard oral iron therapy in pregnant women with moderate-to-severe anaemia.

9th December 2019 • comment

The authors evaluated children aged younger than 18 years who were HIV-exposed but uninfected with at least one head circumference measurement while enrolled in the Surveillance Monitoring for ART Toxicities (SMARTT) study at 22 clinical sites in the USA, including Puerto Rico. These findings support consideration of alternatives to efavirenz as part of first-line antiretroviral therapy for pregnant women.

9th December 2019 • comment

This study sought to (1) explore indications and risk factors for Caesarean section (CS) in public hospitals in four governorates in Egypt and (2) examine health care provider factors impacting the decision to perform a CS. Findings suggestA combination of both medical and non-medical factors drives the increase in CS rates. Our analysis however suggests that a substantial number of CS deliveries took place in the absence of strong medical justification. Health care provider factors seem to be powerful factors influencing CS rates in the study hospitals.

18th November 2019 • comment

The authors aimed to develop and implement evidence-informed, validated tools to measure mistreatment during childbirth, and report results from a cross-sectional study in four low-income and middle-income countries. Findings suggest that more than a third of women experienced mistreatment and were particularly vulnerable around the time of birth. Women who were younger and less educated were most at risk, suggesting inequalities in how women are treated during childbirth. Understanding drivers and structural dimensions of mistreatment, including gender and social inequalities, is essential to ensure that interventions adequately account for the broader context.

22nd October 2019 • comment

Low quality and frequency of antenatal care (ANC) are associated with lower uptake of facility-based deliveries-a key intervention to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality. The authors implemented group ANC (G-ANC), an alternative service delivery model, in Kenya and Nigeria, to assess its impact on quality and attendance at ANC and uptake of facility-based delivery. Findings suggest that G-ANC was associated with higher facility-based delivery rates in Nigeria, where those rates associated with individual ANC were low. In both Kenya and Nigeria it was associated with a higher proportion of women receiving quality ANC and higher frequency of ANC visits.

22nd October 2019 • comment

This study examined the risks of adverse perinatal outcomes associated with antidepressant use during pregnancy. Both depression and antidepressant use were independently associated with the risk of adverse perinatal outcomes; however, the risk associated with antidepressants was higher over and above the risk associated with depression. This may reflect the biological effects of antidepressants, greater severity of depression in those treated, or both.

19th October 2019 • comment

A secondary analysis of cross-sectional data from the 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) was done to estimate the prevalence and identify factors associated with home childbirth (delivery) among young mothers aged 15-24 years in Nigeria. Findings suggest that young mothers aged 15-24 years had a higher prevalence of home delivery than the national average for all women of reproductive age in Nigeria.

19th October 2019 • comment

This study assessed the effect of a family planning intervention package on modern contraceptive use at 12 months post partum in predominantly rural Burkina Faso. Findings suggest that a package of six low-technology interventions, aimed at strengthening existing primary health-care services and enhancing demand for these services, can effectively increase modern contraceptive use for up to a year post partum in rural settings in Burkina Faso and has the potential to be suitable in similar settings in this country and others.

31st July 2019 • comment

This study is a secondary analysis of surveillance data on 119 244 pregnancies from two large population-based cluster-randomised controlled trials in Brong Ahafo, Ghana. Findings suggest that facility birth does not necessarily convey a survival benefit for women or babies and should only be recommended in facilities capable of providing emergency obstetric and newborn care and capable of safe-guarding uncomplicated births.

31st July 2019 • comment

Caesarean delivery rates in Mexico are among the highest in the world. Given heightened public and professional awareness of this problem and the updated 2014 national guidelines to reduce the frequency of caesarean delivery, the authors analysed trends in caesarean delivery by type of facility in Mexico from 2008 to 2017. Findings suggest that since 2014, rates of caesarean delivery have fallen slightly in all sectors, but they remain high at 45.5%. Policies with appropriate interventions are needed to reduce the caesarean delivery rate in Mexico, particularly in private-sector hospitals.

31st July 2019 • comment

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) previously found strong evidence that prenatal HIV screening reduced risk of mother-to-child transmission. The previous evidence review was conducted in 2012. Findings suggest that combination ART was highly effective at reducing risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission. Use of certain ART regimens during pregnancy was associated with increased risk of harms that may be mitigated by selection of ART regimen. The 2012 review found that avoidance of breastfeeding and cesarean delivery in women with viremia also reduced risk of transmission and that prenatal screening accurately diagnosed HIV infection.

2nd July 2019 • comment

The authors aimed to investigate whether antibiotic prophylaxis prevented maternal infection after operative vaginal birth. In a blinded, randomised controlled trial done at 27 UK obstetric units, women (aged ≥16 years) were allocated to receive a single dose of intravenous amoxicillin and clavulanic acid or placebo (saline) following operative vaginal birth at 36 weeks gestation or later. The primary outcome was confirmed or suspected maternal infection within 6 weeks of delivery defined by a new prescription of antibiotics for specific indications, confirmed systemic infection on culture, or endometritis. This trial shows benefit of a single dose of prophylactic antibiotic after operative vaginal birth and guidance from WHO and other national organisations should be changed to reflect this.

2nd July 2019 • comment

Lack of safe, affordable, medically indicated caesarean delivery is a primary contributor to global health inequity. In low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), it perpetuates preventable morbidity and mortality caused by prolonged or obstructed labour.  Adequate intervention alone would avert 1 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), with a median benefit-to-cost ratio of 6·0 at US$304 per DALY averted, reflecting an eradicable burden of disease that undermines sustainable development, economic growth, and human rights.

11th June 2019 • comment

The authors aimed to assist in setting a baseline against which to assess progress towards the achievement of the World Health Assembly targets for reductions in low birth weight (LBW) prevalence. The authors collated data on 1447 country-years of birthweight data (281 million births) for 148 countries of 195 UN member states (47 countries had no data meeting inclusion criteria). The estimated worldwide LBW prevalence in 2015 was 14·6% compared with 17·5% in 2000 (average annual reduction rate 1·23%). In 2015, an estimated 20·5 million livebirths were LBW, 91% from low-and-middle income countries, mainly southern Asia (48%) and sub-Saharan Africa (24%).

29th May 2019 • comment

The authors conducted a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate progesterone, as compared with placebo, in women with vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy. The findings suggest that among women with bleeding in early pregnancy, progesterone therapy administered during the first trimester did not result in a significantly higher incidence of live births than placebo.

13th May 2019 • comment

Association of Gestational Weight Gain With Adverse Maternal and Infant Outcomes

by LifeCycle Project-Maternal Obesity and Childhood Outcomes Study Group

The objective of the study was to examine the association of ranges of gestational weight gain with risk of adverse maternal and infant outcomes and estimate optimal gestational weight gain ranges across prepregnancy body mass index categories. Individual participant-level meta-analysis using data from 196 670 participants within 25 cohort studies from Europe and North America (main study sample) was conducted. In this meta-analysis of pooled individual participant data from 25 cohort studies, the risk for adverse maternal and infant outcomes varied by gestational weight gain and across the range of prepregnancy weights. The estimates of optimal gestational weight gain may inform prenatal counseling; however, the optimal gestational weight gain ranges had limited predictive value for the outcomes assessed.

13th May 2019 • comment

Universal and timely access to a caesarean section is a key requirement for safe childbirth. This review identified the burden of maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity, and the risk factors following caesarean sections in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). The review included 196 studies from 67 LMICs. The risk of maternal death in women who had a caesarean section was 7·6 per 1000 procedures; the highest burden was in sub-Saharan Africa (10·9 per 1000). A quarter of all women who died in LMICs had undergone a caesarean section. Maternal deaths and perinatal deaths following caesarean sections are disproportionately high in LMICs. The timing and urgency of caesarean section pose major risks.

21st April 2019 • comment

This cluster-randomized trial aimed to determine the impact of a community health worker (CHW) intervention on the proportion of women who (i) visit ANC fewer than 4 times during their pregnancy and (ii) deliver at home. A home-based CHW intervention in urban Tanzania significantly reduced the proportion of women who reported having delivered at home, in an area that already has very high uptake of facility-based delivery. The intervention did not affect self-reported ANC attendance. Policy makers should consider piloting, evaluating, and scaling interventions to lessen the economic burden and inconvenience of ANC.

21st April 2019 • comment

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 primary aim of this trial was to determine whether implementation of the CRADLE Vital Sign Alert and an education package into community and facility maternity care in low-resource settings could reduce a composite of all-cause maternal mortality or major morbidity (eclampsia and hysterectomy) across Africa, India, and Haiti. There was an absolute 8% reduction in primary outcome during the trial, with no change in resources or staffing, but this reduction could not be directly attributed to the intervention due to variability. The authors encountered unanticipated methodological challenges with this trial design, which can provide valuable learning for future research and inform the trial design of future international stepped-wedge trials.

25th 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

The aim of the study was to investigate if there is an inherited predisposition to stillbirth transmitted from mother to daughter. The findings suggest that among the daughters, 384 had a history of one or more stillbirths (cases) while 26,404 only ever had livebirths (controls). We found no statistically significant association between mothers' history of stillbirth (adjusted Odds Ratio (aOR) 0.63; 95% CI 0.24-1.63) or miscarriage (aOR 1.01; 95% CI 0.71-1.42) and stillbirth in daughters.

11th February 2019 • comment

The 2016 Afghanistan National Maternal and Newborn Health Quality of Care Assessment assessed quality of early detection and management of PE/E in health facilities and skilled birth attendants' (SBAs) perceptions of their working environment. Notable gaps in SBAs' knowledge and clinical practices in detection and management of PE/E in various health facilities increase the risk of maternal and perinatal mortality. Continuing education of health care providers and increased investment in focused quality improvement initiatives will be critical to improve the quality of health care services in Afghanistan.

29th January 2019 • comment

A community-based intervention package was initiated in 2009 in Netrokona, a rural district in Bangladesh, to engage individuals, families and communities to improve maternal and newborn health. In this article, the authors present the effect of the intervention package on improvement of women's capacities with regard to maternal and newborn health, their husbands' capacities to effectively support them and use of skilled services during pregnancy, childbirth and after childbirth. The authors conclude that the intervention package was effective in building the capacities of women and in engaging their husbands positively in maternal and newborn health. This may have translated into increased use of skilled care during pregnancy.

29th January 2019 • comment

The objective was to perform a systematic review of indicators for the central phases of the maternal and child healthcare continuum of care (pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care and postpartum). Findings suggest that there is a broad choice of indicators for maternal and child healthcare. However, most indicators lack demonstrated scientific soundness and refer to particular continuum phases and levels within the healthcare system. Additional efforts are needed to identify good indicators for a comprehensive maternal and child healthcare monitoring system.

29th January 2019 • comment

The authors examined data from four cross-sectional surveys with 3625 women aged 15-49 years who had recently given birth in Kenya, Ghana, and India (surveys were done from August, 2016, to October, 2017). Fndings suggest that regardless of the setting, women are not getting adequate PCMC. Efforts are needed to improve the quality of facility-based maternity care.

14th January 2019 • comment

Using a national registration system of maternal mortality at the county level, the authors estimated the maternal mortality ratios for 2852 counties in China between 1996 and 2015. Findings suggest that in the past two decades, maternal mortality ratios have reduced rapidly and universally across China at the county level. Fast improvement in maternal mortality ratios is possible even in less economically developed places with resource constraints. This finding has important implications for improving maternal mortality ratios in developing countries in the Sustainable Development Goal era.

14th January 2019 • comment

The conducted a scoping review of indicators proposed by global multi-stakeholder groups to suggest next steps to further support maternal and newborn measurement and monitoring. The authors identified 140 indicators linked to maternal and newborn health topics across the continuum of service provision. Fifty-five indicators relate to inputs and processes, 30 indicators relate to outputs, outcomes comprise 37 indicators in the database, and 18 impact indicators. A quarter of indicators proposed by global groups is either under development/discussion or is considered "aspirational", highlighting the currently evolving monitoring landscape. Although considerable efforts have been made to harmonize indicator recommendations, there are still relatively few indicators shared across key monitoring initiatives and some of those that are shared may have definitional variation.

1st January 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

The objective of the preset study is to evaluate perinatal outcomes associated with twin pregnancies, stratified by severe maternal morbidity and order of birth. Secondary analysis of the WHO Multicountry Survey on Maternal and Newborn Health (WHOMCS), a cross-sectional study implemented in 29 countries. Data from 8568 twin deliveries were compared with 308,127 singleton deliveries. The occurrence of adverse perinatal outcomes and maternal complications were assessed. Factors independently associated with adverse perinatal outcomes were reported with adjusted PR (Prevalence Ratio) and 95%CI. Findings suggest that twin pregnancy is significantly associated with severe maternal morbidity and with worse perinatal outcomes, especially for the second twin.

4th 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

These findings suggest that preterm birth remains a crucial issue in child mortality and improving quality of maternal and newborn care. To better understand the epidemiology of preterm birth, the quality and volume of data needs to be improved, including standardisation of definitions, measurement, and reporting.

21st November 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

This systematic review summarises association between short interpregnancy intervals and adverse perinatal health outcomes in high-resource settings to inform recommendations for healthy birth spacing for the United States. In high-resource settings, there is some evidence showing interpregnancy intervals <6 months since last livebirth are associated with increased risks for preterm birth, small-for-gestational age and infant death; however, results were inconsistent. Additional research controlling for confounding would further inform recommendations for healthy birth spacing for the United States.

5th November 2018 • comment

Using the most recent (2007-16) Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys in 91 low middle income countries (LMICs), the authors described antenatal care quality based on receipt of three essential services (blood pressure monitoring and urine and blood testing) among women who had at least one visit with a skilled antenatal-care provider. FIndings suggest that many LMICs that have reached high levels of antenatal care coverage had much lower and inequitable levels of quality. Achieving ambitious maternal, newborn, and child health goals will require greater focus on the quality of health services and their equitable distribution. Equity in effective coverage should be used as the new metric to monitor progress towards universal health coverage.

22nd October 2018 • comment

In this Series paper, the author describe the factors for caesarean section (CS) use that are associated with women, families, health professionals, and health-care organisations and systems, and we examine behavioural, psychosocial, health system, and financial factors. Approaches such as labour companionship and midwife-led care have been associated with higher proportions of physiological births, safer outcomes, and lower health-care costs relative to control groups without these interventions, and with positive maternal experiences, in high-income countries. Such approaches need to be assessed in middle-income and low-income countries. Educational interventions for women should be complemented with meaningful dialogue with health professionals and effective emotional support for women and families. Investing in the training of health professionals, eliminating financial incentives for CS use, and reducing fear of litigation is fundamental. Safe, private, welcoming, and adequately resourced facilities are needed. At the country level, effective medical leadership is essential to ensure CS is used only when indicated. We conclude that interventions to reduce overuse must be multicomponent and locally tailored, addressing women's and health professionals' concerns, as well as health system and financial factors.

22nd October 2018 • comment

the authors compared the efficacy and safety of detoxification from opioids compared with opioid replacement therapy (ORT) during pregnancy. indings suggest an increased risk of relapse with detoxification treatment compared with ORT; however, detoxification does not alter the risk of preterm birth or neonatal abstinece syndrome. Further studies should confirm our findings and explore mechanisms to fight the current opioid epidemic.

16th October 2018 • comment

Janani Suraksha Yojana (safe motherhood scheme, or JSY) provides cash incentives to marginal pregnant women in India conditional on having mainly institutional delivery. Using the fourth round of district level household survey (DLHS-4), we have estimated its effects on both intended and unintended outcomes. Our estimates of average treatment effect on the treated (ATT) from propensity score matching are remarkably higher than those found in previous prominent studies using the second and third rounds of the survey (DLHS-2 and DLHS-3). When we apply fuzzy regression discontinuity design exploiting the second birth order, our estimates of local average treatment effect (LATE) are much higher than that of ATT. For example, due to JSY, institutional delivery increases by around 16 percentage points according to ATT estimate but about 23 percentage points according to LATE estimate.

8th October 2018 • comment

In 2015, 2·6 million stillbirths were estimated globally, more than 7100 deaths a day, with most occurring in developing countries. These figures are substantial, yet they are an underestimation of the full extent of this loss because stillbirths at less than 28 weeks of pregnancy are not included in these numbers. If the 22-week threshold was applied, the numbers have been estimated to be 40% higher. 

8th October 2018 • comment

The GAPD is a comprehensive tool that can be used to strengthen knowledge, inform law and policy research to generate evidence on the impact of laws and policies in practice, and facilitate greater awareness of the many challenges to creating enabling policy environments for safe abortion.

2nd October 2018 • comment

The study draws on Demographic and Health Survey data from five countries where three surveys are available since 1990, with the most recent after 2006. It examines trends in adolescent births by wealth status and urban/rural residence. The study draws on Demographic and Health Survey data from five countries where three surveys are available since 1990, with the most recent after 2006. It examines trends in adolescent births by wealth status and urban/rural residence.

10th September 2018 • comment

The authors analyzed state-level maternal mortality for the years 1997–2012 using multilevel mixed-effects regression grouped by state, using publicly available data including whether a state had adopted the 2003 U.S. Standard Certificate of Death, designed to simplify identification of pregnant and recently pregnant decedents. Findings indicate that, in addition to better case ascertainment of maternal deaths, adverse changes in chronic diseases, insufficient healthcare access, and social determinants of health represent identifiable risks for maternal mortality that merit prompt attention in population-directed interventions and health policies.

29th August 2018 • comment

This systematic review aimed to offer insight and understanding, through aggregation, summary, synthesis and interpretation of findings from studies that report obstetricians’ and midwives’ views on the factors that influence the decision to perform caesarean section. This systematic review and metasynthesis identified clinicians’ personal beliefs as a major factor that influenced the decision to perform caesarean section, further contributed by the influence of factors related to the health care system and clinicians’ characteristics. Obstetricians and midwives are directly involved in the decision to perform a caesarean section, hence their perspectives are vital in understanding various factors that have influence on decision-making for caesarean section. These results can help clinicians identify and acknowledge their role as crucial members in the decision-making process for caesarean section within their organisation, and to develop intervention studies to reduce caesarean section rates in future. 

14th August 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

This large trial compared a novel formulation of heat-stable carbetocin with oxytocin. The study enrolled women across 23 sites in 10 countries in a randomized, double-blind, noninferiority trial comparing intramuscular injections of heat-stable carbetocin (at a dose of 100 μg) with oxytocin (at a dose of 10 IU) administered immediately after vaginal birth. Findings suggest that heat-stable carbetocin was noninferior to oxytocin for the prevention of blood loss of at least 500 ml or the use of additional uterotonic agents. Noninferiority was not shown for the outcome of blood loss of at least 1000 ml; low event rates for this outcome reduced the power of the trial.

10th July 2018 • comment

The objective was to determine whether low dose aspirin reduces the rate of spontaneous PTB in nulliparous women without medical co-morbidities. This is a secondary analysis of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of low dose aspirin for prevention of preeclampsia in healthy, low-risk, nulliparous women. Low dose aspirin is associated with a substantial decrease in spontaneous PTB <34wks in healthy nulliparous women without co-morbidities. These findings suggest a new therapeutic option for PTB prevention that requires further study.

26th June 2018 • comment

A cross-sectional study was conducted in 52 health facilities in Tanzania utilizing direct observations of women during labor and delivery. Findings suggets that the quality of PPH prevention increased substantially in facilities that implemented competency-based training and quality improvement interventions, with the most dramatic improvement seen at lower-level facilities. As Tanzania continues with efforts to increase facility births, it is imperative that the quality of care also be improved by promoting use of up-to-date guidelines and ensuring regular training and mentoring for health care providers so that they adhere to the guidelines for care of women during labor. These measures can reduce maternal and newborn mortality.

26th June 2018 • comment

Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to numerous adverse health consequences for both the developing fetus and mother. This study estimated the prevalence of smoking during pregnancy by country, WHO region, and globally and the proportion of pregnant women who smoked during pregnancy, by frequency and quantity, on a global level. The findings suggest that smoking during pregnancy is still a prevalent behaviour in many countries. These findings should inform smoking prevention programmes and health promotion strategies, as well as draw attention to the need for improved access to smoking cessation programmes for pregnant women.

12th June 2018 • comment

For every woman who dies during pregnancy and childbirth, many more suffer ill-health, the burden of which is highest in low-resource settings. The study sought to assess the extent and types of maternal morbidity. Findings from this study suggests that women suffer significant ill-health which is still largely unrecognised. Current antenatal and postnatal care packages require adaptation if they are to meet the identified health needs of women.

12th June 2018 • comment

The objective of this review is to assess the effects of a policy of labour induction at or beyond term compared with a policy of awaiting spontaneous labour or until an indication for birth induction of labour is identified) on pregnancy outcomes for infant and mother. A policy of labour induction at or beyond term compared with expectant management is associated with fewer perinatal deaths and fewer caesarean sections; but more operative vaginal births. NICU admissions were lower and fewer babies had low Apgar scores with induction. No important differences were seen for most of the other maternal and infant outcomes.

28th May 2018 • comment

The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of a World Health Organization Safe Childbirth Checklist coaching-based intervention (BetterBirth Program) on availability and procurement of essential childbirth-related supplies. Implementation of the BetterBirth Program, incorporating supply availability, resulted in modest improvements with catch-up by control facilities by 12 months. Supply-chain coaching may be most beneficial in sites starting with lower supply availability. Efforts are needed to reduce reliance on patient-funding for some critical medications.

14th May 2018 • comment

This study aims to investigate the effect of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) on the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Seven cohort studies with 3,417,020 pregnant women including 14,146 incident CVD events were retrieved. In the pooled analysis, women with previous GDM had a higher risk of CVD than those without.

2nd May 2018 • comment

Antenatal care (ANC) provides a critical opportunity for women and babies to benefit from good-quality maternal care. Using 10 countries as an illustrative analysis, this study described ANC coverage (number of visits and timing of first visit) and operationalised indicators for content of care as available in population surveys, and examined how these two approaches are related. Findings suggest that even among women with patterns of care that complied with global recommendations, the content of care was poor. Efficient and effective action to improve care quality relies on development of suitable content of care indicators.

2nd May 2018 • comment

This paper aims to provide a brief overview of this policy’s effect on health facility delivery service utilization and maternal mortality ratio and neonatal mortality rate in Kenyan public health facilities. The findings suggest that cost is a deterrent to health facility delivery service utilization in Kenya and thus free delivery services are an important strategy to promote utilization of health facility delivery services; however, there is a need to simultaneously address other factors that contribute to pregnancy-related and neonatal deaths. 

5th April 2018 • comment

The aim of this epidemiological study was to estimate the prevalence of mistreatment and types of mistreatment among women giving birth in facility- and home-based settings in Pakistan in order to address the lack of empirical evidence on this topic. There were no significant differences in manifestations of mistreatment between facility- and home-based childbirths. Approximately 97% of women reported experiencing at least one disrespectful and abusive behaviour. Experiences of mistreatment by type were as follows: non-consented care (81%); right to information (72%); non-confidential care (69%); verbal abuse (35%); abandonment of care (32%); discriminatory care (15%); and physical abuse (15%). 

5th April 2018 • comment

The objective was to identify groups of sexually active women with extremely low demand for family planning satisfied with modern methods (mDFPS) in low- and middle-income countries, at national and subnational levels to inform the improvement and expansion of programmatic efforts to narrow the gaps in mDFPS coverage. Analyses were based on Demographic and Health Survey and Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey data. Almost half of the women in need were not using an effective family planning method. Subgroups requiring special attention include women who are poor, uneducated/illiterate, young, and living in rural areas. Efforts to increase mDFPS must address not only the supply side but also tackle the need to change social norms that might inhibit uptake of contraception.

22nd March 2018 • comment

Postpartum depression (PPD) poses a major global public health challenge. The authors conducted a meta-analysis to estimate the global and national prevalence of PPD and a meta-regression to identify economic, health, social, or policy factors associated with national PPD prevalence. The global prevalence of PPD is greater than previously thought and varies dramatically by nation. Disparities in wealth inequality and maternal-child-health factors explain much of the national variation in PPD prevalence.

7th March 2018 • comment

Active management of the third stage of labor (AMTSL) describes interventions with the common goal to prevent postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). A systematic search was conducted in five databases in September 2015 to identify intervention studies of AMTSL implemented by unskilled birth attendants or pregnant women themselves. Task shifting of AMTSL has thus far been evaluated for administration of uterotonics (misoprostol tablets and oxytocin injected by CHWs and auxiliary midwives) and resulted in reduction of PPH, high rates of appropriate use and satisfaction among users.

19th February 2018 • comment

The objective of thsi review was to determine the effect of interventions to engage men during pregnancy, childbirth and infancy on mortality and morbidity, as well as effects on mechanisms by which male involvement is hypothesised to influence mortality and morbidity outcomes: home care practices, care-seeking, and couple relationships. Findings suggets that interventions to engage men in maternal and newborn health can increase care-seeking, improve home care practices, and support more equitable couple communication and decision-making for maternal and newborn health. These findings support engaging men as a health promotion strategy, although evidence gaps remain around effects on mortality and morbidity. Findings also indicate that interventions to increase male involvement should be carefully designed and implemented to mitigate potential harmful effects on couple relationship dynamics.

5th February 2018 • comment

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, the rate of decline in prevalence of maternal and child mortality, stillbirths, and stunting among children younger than 5 years of age needs to accelerate considerably compared with progress since 2000. Countdown to 2030 is investing in improvements in measurement in several areas, such as quality of care and effective coverage, nutrition programmes, adolescent health, early childhood development, and evidence for conflict settings, and is prioritising its regional networks to enhance local analytic capacity and evidence for RMNCH.

5th February 2018 • comment

This study examined wealth-related variations in cesarean rates in six lower- and upper-middle income countries: the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Guatemala, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Large wealth-related variations in the mode of delivery across government and private hospitals suggest the need for well-developed guidelines and standards to achieve a more appropriate selection of cases for cesarean delivery.

29th January 2018 • comment

This study determines the effect of the policy to remove user fees on institutional delivery in a population-based sample of women from urban Kenya. Multivariate findings show that women were significantly more likely to deliver at a public facility as compared to a private facility after the policy. Among the poor, the results show that poor women were significantly more likely to deliver in a public facility compared to home or a private facility after policy change.

11th January 2018 • comment

This study aims to investigate the impact of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) on the long-term risks of diabetes in women with prior GDM, including the effect at different time periods after GDM. Thirty cohort studies with 2,626,905 pregnant women were included. Women with prior GDM had 7.76-fold (95% confidence intervals: 5.10–11.81) unadjusted pooled risk of diabetes as compared with women without GDM, whilst the adjusted risk was 17.92-fold (16.96–18.94). The adjusted ORs of GDM for diabetes among women at <3, ≥3 – <6 and ≥6 – <10 years after GDM were 5.37 (3.51–9.34), 16.55 (16.08–17.04) and 8.20 (4.53–14.86), respectively. Women with prior GDM had substantially increased risk of diabetes, with the risk highest during the 3–6 years after GDM.

11th January 2018 • comment

The study compares pregnancy-related empowerment for women randomly assigned to the standard of care versus CenteringPregnancy-based group ANC (intervention) in two sub-Saharan countries, Malawi and Tanzania. Pregnant women in Malawi (n =&thinsp;112) and Tanzania (n =&thinsp;110) were recruited into a pilot study and randomized to individual ANC or group ANC. The findings suggest that Group ANC empowers pregnant women in some contexts. More research is needed to identify the ways that models of ANC can affect pregnancy-related empowerment in addition to perinatal outcomes globally.

20th November 2017 • comment

The authors performed a systematic review and meta-analysis that evaluated the prophylactic effect of aspirin during pregnancy. Sixteen trials including 18,907 participants provided data for preterm and term preeclampsia. Findings suggest that Aspirin reduces the risk of preterm preeclampsia but not term preeclampsia, and only when it is initiated at ≤16 weeks of gestation and at a daily dose of ≥100 mg.

20th November 2017 • comment

This study describe the causes of maternal death in a population-based cohort in six low and middle-income countries using a standardized, hierarchical, algorithmic cause of death (COD) methodology. Findings suggest that the major maternal COD in the Global Network sites were hemorrhage, pregnancy-related infection and preeclampsia/eclampsia. This system could allow public health programs in low and middle-income countries to generate transparent and comparable data for maternal COD across time or regions.

8th November 2017 • comment

The study assessed the effect of integrated supply- and demand-side interventions on the facility-based delivery rate. Findings suggest that an integrated supply- and demand-side intervention was associated with a substantial increase in institutional delivery. The package can be tailored to identify which combination of interventions may produce the optimum result and be scaled. Rigorous implementation research studies are needed to draw confident conclusions and to provide information about the costs, feasibility for scale-up and sustainability.

8th November 2017 • comment

This study is a secondary analysis of the WHO Global Survey (WHOGS) and the WHO Multi-country Survey (WHOMCS) conducted in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. There were 33,003 women with low risk singleton pregnancies at ≥41 completed weeks from 292 facilities in 21 countries. Compared to induction of labour (IOL), ECS significantly increased risk of NICU admission while EM was significantly associated with decreased risk of CS. ECS should not be recommended for women at 41 completed weeks of pregnancy. However, the choice between IOL and EM should be cautiously considered since the available evidences are still quite limited.

8th November 2017 • comment

Severe maternal morbidity and mortality have increased in the USA in recent years. This trend has not been consistent across all racial groups. The reasons behind this, and the relationship between pre-existing conditions, pregnancy-associated disease and Severe maternal morbidity/mortality, have not been fully explored. The findings suggest that the rate of both pre-existing comorbidities and pregnancy-associated disease is increasing in pregnant women in the USA and varies substantially by race. These trends provide valuable insight into the increasing complexity of pregnancy in the USA and explain a proportion of the observed increase in Severe maternal morbidity/mortality.

25th October 2017 • comment

This paper draws on secondary data from 40 low and middle income countries that conducted emergency obstetric and newborn care assessments over the last 10 years. We reviewed 6.5 million deliveries, surveyed in 15,411 facilities. Most of the data were extracted from reports and aggregated with excel. Findings suggest that to a large extent, facility-based findings mirror what population-based systematic reviews have also documented. As coverage of a skilled attendant at birth increases, proportionally more deaths will occur in facilities, making improvements in record-keeping and health management information systems, especially for stillbirths and early neonatal deaths, all the more critical.

25th September 2017 • comment

The objectives of this review were to (i) summarize the methods undertaken to measure physical accessibility as the spatial separation between women and health services, and (ii) establish the extent to which distance to skilled care for childbirth affects utilization in Sub-Saharan Africa. Findings suggest that although the reporting and measurements of spatial separation in low-resource settings needs further development, we found evidence that a lack of geographic access impedes use. Utilization is conditioned on access, researchers and policy makers should therefore prioritize quality data for the evidence-base to ensure that women everywhere have the potential to access obstetric care.

25th September 2017 • comment

Systematic global analysis of early antenatal care visits has not been done previously. This study reports on regional and global estimates of the coverage of early antenatal care visits from 1990 to 2013. Findings suggest that progress in the coverage of early antenatal care visits has been achieved but coverage is still far from universal. Substantial inequity exists in coverage both within regions and between income groups. The absence of data in many countries is of concern and efforts should be made to collect and report coverage of early antenatal care visits to enable better monitoring and evaluation.

25th September 2017 • comment

From 2014 to 2017, the World Health Organization convened a working group to evaluate influenza disease burden and vaccine efficacy to inform estimates of maternal influenza immunization program impact. The group evaluated existing systematic reviews and relevant primary studies, and conducted four new systematic reviews. There was strong evidence that maternal influenza immunization prevented influenza illness in pregnant women and their infants, although data on severe illness prevention were lacking. The limited number of studies reporting influenza incidence in pregnant women and infants under six months had highly variable estimates and underrepresented low- and middle-income countries. The evidence that maternal influenza immunization reduces the risk of adverse birth outcomeswas conflicting, and many observational studies were subject to substantial bias. The lack of scientific clarity regarding disease burden or magnitude of vaccine efficacy against severe illness poses challenges for robust estimation of the potential impact of maternal influenza immunization programs.

7th September 2017 • comment

Women’s childbirth experience can have immediate as well as long-term positive or negative effects on their life, well-being and health. When evaluating and drawing conclusions from research results, women’s experiences of childbirth should be one aspect to consider. Researchers and clinicians need help in finding and selecting the most suitable instrument for their purpose. The aim of this study was therefore to systematically identify and present validated instruments measuring women’s childbirth experience. This systematic review provides an overview of existing instruments measuring women’s childbirth experiences and can support researchers to identify appropriate instruments to be used, and maybe adapted, in their specific contexts and research purpose.

17th July 2017 • comment

In 2012, the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FIGO) produced a chart detailing recommended dosages of misoprostol when used alone, for a variety of obstetric and gynecologic indications. In light of new evidence and through expert deliberation, this chart has now been revised and expanded. The present commentary explain the changes and the decisions made. 

17th July 2017 • comment

Maternal mortality has been the main way of ascertaining the outcome of maternal and obstetric care. However, maternal morbidities occur more frequently than maternal deaths; therefore, maternal near miss was suggested as a more useful indicator for the evaluation and improvement of maternal health services. This study aimed to explore the experiences of women with maternal near miss and their perception of the quality of care in Kelantan, Malaysia.  Self-appraisal of maternal near miss, their perception of the quality of care, their predisposition to seek healthcare and the social support received were the four major themes that emerged from the experiences and perceptions of women with maternal near miss. The women with maternal near miss viewed their experiences as frightening and that they experienced other negative emotions and a sense of imminent death. The factors influencing women’s perceptions of quality of care should be of concern to those seeking to improve services at healthcare facilities. The addition of a maternal near miss case review programme, allows for understanding on the factors related to providing care or to the predisposition to seek care; if addressed, may improve future healthcare and patient outcomes.

3rd July 2017 • comment

WHO proposed the WHO Maternal Near Miss (MNM) tool, classifying women according to several (potentially) life-threatening conditions, to monitor and improve quality of obstetric care. The objective of this study is to analyse merged data of one high- and two low-resource settings where this tool was applied and test whether the tool may be suitable for comparing severe maternal outcome (SMO) between these settings. Applying solely organ dysfunction-based criteria may lead to underreporting of SMO. Therefore, a tool based on defining MNM only upon establishing organ failure is of limited use for comparing settings with varying resources. In low-resource settings, lowering the threshold of transfused units of blood leads to a higher detection rate of MNM. We recommend refined disease-based criteria, accompanied by a limited set of intervention- and organ dysfunction-based criteria to set a measure of severity.

3rd July 2017 • comment

Community health workers (CHWs) play key roles in delivering health programmes in many countries worldwide. CHW programmes can improve coverage of maternal and child health services for the most disadvantaged and remote communities, leading to substantial benefits for mothers and children. This is a cluster randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of a continuous quality improvement (CQI) intervention amongst CHWs providing home-based education and support to pregnant women and mothers. Findings suggest that improved training and CQI-based mentoring of CHWs can improve quantity and quality of CHW-mother interactions at household level, leading to improvements in mothers’ knowledge and infant feeding practices.

3rd July 2017 • comment

This paper explores predictors of retention of antenatal care clients in skilled birth attendance across Africa, including sociodemographic factors and quality of antenatal care received. Higher quality of ANC predicts retention in SBA in Africa. Improving quality of skilled care received prenatally may increase client retention during delivery, reducing maternal mortality.

14th June 2017 • comment

There is a need for a clear and actionable definition of maternal sepsis, in order to better assess the burden of this condition, trigger timely and effective treatment and allow comparisons across facilities and countries. The objective of this study was to review maternal sepsis definitions and identification criteria and to report on the results of an expert consultation to develop a new international definition of maternal sepsis. The operationalization of the new maternal sepsis definition requires generation of a set of practical criteria to identify women with sepsis. These criteria should enable clinicians to focus on the timely initiation of actionable elements of care (administration of antimicrobials and fluids, support of vital organ functions, and referral) and improve maternal outcomes.

14th June 2017 • comment

The review revealed examples of mistreatment of newborns in six of the seven categories. Common occurrences were failure to meet a professional standard of care, stigma and discrimination, and health system constraints. Many instances of mistreatment of newborns related to neglect and non-consented care rather than outright physical or verbal abuse. Two additional categories were also identified for newborns related to legal accountability and bereavement care.

2nd June 2017 • comment

This review aims to assess the effects of dietary advice interventions for preventing GDM and associated adverse health outcomes for women and their babies.

9th May 2017 • comment

Access to quality obstetric care is considered essential to reducing maternal and new-born mortality. The authors evaluated the effect of the introduction of a multifaceted voluntary health insurance programme on hospital deliveries in rural Nigeria. Voluntary health insurance combined with quality healthcare services is highly effective in increasing hospital deliveries in rural Nigeria, by improving access to healthcare for insured and uninsured women in the programme area.

19th April 2017 • comment

Summarizes evidence on the impact of community-based programs for improving reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) by (1) describing contextual factors affecting implementation; (2) considering issues of cost-effectiveness; and (3) highlighting research gaps, the challenges of scaling up, and the way forward.

3rd April 2017 • comment

This review reports findings on a systematic review analysing effectiveness of preventive interventions delivered by Community Health Workers for Maternal and Child Health in low- and middle-income countries. Community Health Workers were shown to provide a range of preventive interventions for Maternal and Child Health in low- and middle-income countries with some evidence of effective strategies, though insufficient evidence is available to draw conclusions for most interventions and further research is needed.

3rd April 2017 • comment

New NIHR Themed Review: Better Beginnings

by National Institute for Health Research

This themed review brings together NIHR research on different aspects of health before, during and after pregnancy. It features:

  • 46 published studies
  • 28 ongoing studies or interim results
  • Questions for clinicians, commissioners, public health professionals and othe

20th March 2017 • comment

To inform policy, the authors explore the association between transitions into poverty and subsequent mental health among children and their mothers. In a contemporary UK cohort, first transition into income poverty during early childhood was associated with an increase in the risk of child and maternal mental health problems. These effects were independent of changes in employment status. Transitions to income poverty do appear to affect children's life chances and actions that directly reduce income poverty of children are likely to improve child and maternal mental health.

13th March 2017 • comment

The present study is aimed to explore the association between spontaneous abortion (SA) and socioeconomic status (SES) and provides reference for policy makers to improve strategies on maternal health promotion. Generally women with lower SES status had a higher risk of SA. Lower income and educational attainment were inversely associated with the risk of SA. Women with agricultural and related work had a significantly higher prevalence of SA. Interventions could be targeted more on women with low SES to increase both health profits as well as economic gains for health programs.

6th March 2017 • comment

In this podcast Dr Jacob McKnight talks about his experiences in neonatal nursing delivery and research in Kenya.

20th February 2017 • comment

In this study service-related indicators of access to maternal care in CEE are examined. These include availability, appropriateness, affordability, approachability and acceptability of maternal care. Fndings indicate that major gaps in evidence exist and that more representative and better quality data should be collected. Governments in CEE countries need to establish a reliable system for measuring and monitoring a suitable set of indicators, as well as deal with the general social and economic problem of informality. Medical curricula in the CEE region need to be overhauled and there should be a focus on improving the allocation of medical staff and institutions as well as protecting vulnerable population groups to ensure universal access to care.

20th February 2017 • comment

Effective policymaking to promote the utilization of MHS can be greatly facilitated by the identification of the factors that hinder service uptake. In this study, the authors aim to measure the prevalence of institutional delivery services and explore the factors associated with their utilization in Bangladesh. Results suggest that efforts towards reducing national maternal mortality in Bangladesh could be aided by investments into education, poverty reduction and the strengthening of reproductive healthcare services through community clinics, with particular focus on rural areas.

20th February 2017 • comment

WHO made it a high priority to provide the present fetal growth charts for estimated fetal weight (EFW) and common ultrasound biometric measurements intended for worldwide use. This study provides WHO fetal growth charts for EFW and common ultrasound biometric measurements, and shows variation between different parts of the world.

10th February 2017 • comment

This is a population-based linkage study of 979,912 term singleton pregnancies in Scotland, United Kingdom, between 1992 and 2010. At term, birth weight remains strongly associated with the risk of stillbirth and infant death and neonatal morbidity. Partial customisation does not improve prediction performance. Consideration of early term delivery or closer surveillance for those with a predicted birth weight ≤25th or ≥85th centile may reduce adverse outcomes. Replication of the analysis with fully customised centiles accounting for ethnicity is warranted.

1st February 2017 • comment

Alcohol use during pregnancy is the direct cause of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The authors aimed to estimate the prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy and FAS in the general population and, by linking these two indicators, estimate the number of pregnant women that consumed alcohol during pregnancy per one case of FAS. Alcohol use during pregnancy is common in many countries and as such, FAS is a relatively prevalent alcohol-related birth defect. More effective prevention strategies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy and surveillance of FAS are urgently needed.

23rd January 2017 • comment

The positive association between caesarean section (CS) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be attributed to preterm delivery. However, due to lack of statistical power, no previous study thoroughly examined this association across gestational age. The authors compared emergency versus planned CS to investigate their potential difference in the risk of ASD using population-based registries of four Nordic countries and Western Australia. Across the five countries, emergency or planned CS is consistently associated with a modest increased risk of ASD from gestational weeks 36 to 42 when compared with vaginal delivery.

9th January 2017 • comment

This study explores the conditions that affect availability and utilisation of intrapartum care services in four districts of Afghanistan where mortality studies were conducted in 2002 and 2011. Findings suggest that improvements in service coverage must be measured at a sub-national level, and context-specific service delivery models may be needed to effectively scale up intrapartum care services in extremely remote or insecure settings.

9th January 2017 • comment

This study systematically reviews the literature on cause of maternal death in adolescence. Where possible the authors have attempted to compare the main causes for adolescents with those for older women to ascertain differences and similarity in mortality patterns. The main causes of maternal mortality in adolescents are broadly similar to those for older women, although the findings suggest some heterogeneity between countries and regions. However there is evidence that the relative importance of specific causes may differ for this younger age group compared to women over the age of 20 years. In particular hypertensive conditions make up a larger share of maternal deaths in adolescents than older women. Further, large scale studies are needed to investigate this question further.

22nd November 2016 • comment

The Ghanaian government implemented the National Health Insurance Scheme in 2004 and the aim of this study is to evaluate its early effects on maternal and infant healthcare use. The authors conclude that in the first years of operation, the National Health Insurance Scheme had a modest impact on the use of antenatal and delivery care. This is important for other African countries currently introducing or considering a national health insurance as a means towards universal health coverage.

22nd November 2016 • comment

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health SCC was modified for Indian context and introduced in 101 intervention facilities in Rajasthan, India and 99 facilities served as comparison to study if it reduces mortality. This Quasi experimental Observational intervention-comparison was embedded in this larger program to test whether a program for introduction of SCC with simple implementation package was associated with increased adherence to 28 evidence-based practices. se of the SCC and provider performance of best practices increased in intervention facilities reflecting improvement in quality of facility childbirth care for women and new-born in low resource settings.

22nd November 2016 • comment

This study aimed to quantify maternal mortality throughout the world by underlying cause and age from 1990 to 2015. Several challenges to improving reproductive health lie ahead in the SDG era. Countries should establish or renew systems for collection and timely dissemination of health data; expand coverage and improve quality of family planning services, including access to contraception and safe abortion to address high adolescent fertility; invest in improving health system capacity, including coverage of routine reproductive health care and of more advanced obstetric care—including EmOC; adapt health systems and data collection systems to monitor and reverse the increase in indirect, other direct, and late maternal deaths, especially in high SDI locations; and examine their own performance with respect to their SDI level, using that information to formulate strategies to improve performance and ensure optimum reproductive health of their population.

11th October 2016 • comment

This review is intended to summarise findings from the existing literature, identify important knowledge gaps, and set the research agenda for creating new generalisable knowledge pertinent to increasing our understanding of the prevalence, determinants, and infant and childhood health outcomes associated with perinatal depression. This review is also intended to set the stage for subsequent work aimed at reinforcing and accelerating investments toward providing services to manage maternal depression in low-income and middle-income countries.

27th September 2016 • comment

This paper aims to identify cross-cutting themes on how and why these countries achieved or did not achieve MDG progress.

27th September 2016 • comment

Antenatal corticosteroids are commonly used to reduce neonatal mortality, but most research to date has been in high-resource settings and few studies have evaluated its impact on stillbirth. In the Antenatal Corticosteroids Trial (ACT), a multi-country trial to assess impact of a multi-faceted intervention including antenatal corticosteroids to reduce neonatal mortality associated with preterm birth, we found an overall increase in 28-day neonatal mortality and stillbirth associated with the intervention.

10th September 2016 • comment

This study aims to determine the prevalence of non-violent forms of gender-based household maltreatment by husbands and in-laws (GBHM), and violence from in-laws (ILV) and husbands (IPV) against women during the peripregnancy period (during and in the year prior to pregnancy); to assess relative associations of GBHM, ILV and IPV with maternal health. After adjusting for ILV and IPV, peripregnancy GBHM remained significantly associated with multiple forms of maternal morbidity, suggesting that GBHM is a prevalent and reliable indicator of maternal health risk.

10th September 2016 • comment

This study assessed whether young adolescent girls constitute a group at increased risk for adverse birth outcomes among pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa. Young maternal age increases the risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes and it is a stronger predictor for low birth weight and preterm delivery than other established risk factors in sub-Saharan Africa. This finding highlights the need to improve adolescent reproductive health in sub-Saharan Africa.

30th June 2016 • comment

After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Afghanistan experienced a tumultuous period of democracy overshadowed by conflict, widespread insurgency, and an inflow of development assistance. Although there have been several cross-sectional assessments of health gains over the last decade, there has been no systematic analysis of progress and factors influencing maternal and child health in Afghanistan. Despite conflict and poverty, Afghanistan has made reasonable progress in its reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health indicators over the last decade based on contributions of factors within and outside the health sector. However, equitable access to health care remains a challenge and present delivery models have high transactional costs, affecting sustainability.

18th May 2016 • comment

As part of Disease Control Priorities 3rd Edition, the World Bank will publish a volume on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health that identifies essential cost-effective health interventions that can be scaled up to reduce maternal, newborn, and child deaths, and stillbirths. This Review summarises the volume's key findings and estimates the effect and cost of expanded implementation of these interventions. Recognising that a continuum of care from the adolescent girl, woman, or mother to child is needed, the volume includes details of preventive and therapeutic health interventions in integrated packages: Maternal and Newborn Health and Child Health (along with folic acid supplementation, a key reproductive health intervention).

21st April 2016 • comment

The objective of the study was to develop maternal, fetal, and neonatal composite outcomes relevant to the evaluation of diet and lifestyle interventions in pregnancy by individual patient data (IPD) meta-analysis.A two-generational Delphi survey involving members of the i–WIP collaborative network (26 members in 11 countries) was undertaken to prioritise the individual outcomes for their importance in clinical care. The final components of the composite outcomes were identified using pre-specified criteria. The study has identified the components of maternal, fetal, and neonatal composite outcomes required for the assessment of diet and lifestyle interventions in pregnancy by IPD meta-analysis.

19th February 2016 • comment

This study attempts to identify the socio demographic determinants and differentials of contraceptive use or non use by a woman in India, before she proceeds to have her first child. The analysis was done using data from the third National Family Health Survey (2005–2006), India.

4th January 2016 • comment

This paper presents a review of the available evidence on the effectiveness of community-based health interventions to improve the reproductive health status of young married couples in LMICs. Review suggests that multi-layered community-based interventions, targeting young married women, their families and the health system can improve utilization of reproductive health services among young couples in resource-constrained settings. The paper emphasizes the need for further research to fill the knowledge gaps that exist about improving utilization of reproductive healthcare services, especially safe abortion care among young married women in LMICs.

13th October 2015 • comment

The EMPOWER Program (EMpowering Progress in Obstetric and Women's hEalth Research)  is now accepting research proposals related to preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy from young investigators in low resource settings. Letters of Intent are due November 15, 2015. Thereafter, projects deemed feasible will be invited to submit full applications by April 15, 2016. The grant recipient will be announced in October 2016 at the World Congress of the International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy (ISSHP).

30th September 2015 • comment

Economic interventions are increasingly recognised as a mechanism to address perinatal health outcomes among disadvantaged groups. In the US, the earned income tax credit (EITC) is the largest poverty alleviation programme. Little is known about its effects on perinatal health among recipients and their children. The authors exploit quasi-random variation in the size of EITC payments to examine the effects of income on perinatal health. Findings suggest that EITC payment size is associated with better levels of several indicators of perinatal health. Instrumental variables analysis, however, does not reveal a causal association between household income and these health measures.

4th August 2015 • comment

The study aimes to assess both child and adult outcomes in five LMICs. Children of young mothers in LMICs are disadvantaged at birth and in childhood nutrition and schooling. Efforts to prevent early childbearing should be strengthened. After adjustment for confounders, children of older mothers have advantages in nutritional status and schooling. Extremes of maternal age could be associated with disturbed off spring glucose metabolism.        

30th June 2015 • comment

The objectives of this study were to estimate the relationship between the type of abortion provider (consultant physician, house officer, or midwife) and two separate outcomes: (1) the likelihood of adopting postabortion contraception; (2) postabortion contraceptors’ likelihood of receiving a long-acting and permanent versus a short-acting contraceptive method.        

24th June 2015 • comment

Dr Nat Segaren - Medical Director of the Caris Foundation, presents on 'The Haiti National Early Infant Diagnosis of HIV Program'

27th May 2015 • comment

Evidences about unmet need for family planning and associated factors are not enough in Dangila town. Therefore, this study was done to assess the magnitude and determinants of unmet need for family planning among currently married women in Dangila town. Findings suggest that the level of unmet need for family planning in the study area is still high compared to the target set (10 %) in the national family planning guide plan of Ethiopia to be achieved by the end of 2015. Therefore, it is important to strengthen counseling and partner involvement in Dangila town to reduce unmet need for family planning.      

18th May 2015 • comment

Birth Preparedness and Complication Readiness is among the key interventions that can reduce maternal mortality. Despite this, its status in Tanzania is not well documented. The authors assessed the practice and determinants of Birth preparedness and complication readiness among recently delivered women in Chamwino district, Central Tanzania. Findings suggest that the proportion of women who prepared for birth and its complications were found to be low. District reproductive and child health coordinator should emphasis on early and frequent antenatal care visits, since they were among predictors of birth preparedness and complication readiness.      

18th May 2015 • comment

Between-hospital variation in outcomes among extremely preterm infants is largely unexplained and may reflect differences in hospital practices regarding the initiation of active lifesaving treatment as compared with comfort care after birth. Differences in hospital practices regarding the initiation of active treatment in infants born at 22, 23, or 24 weeks of gestation explain some of the between-hospital variation in survival and survival without impairment among such patients.      

12th May 2015 • comment

In celebration of Global Health Trials' fifth birthday (May 11th 2015) Professor Trudie Lang, Principal Investigator of the programme, talks to us about why Global Health Trials was started, why people should share their experience, and what the future holds.

8th May 2015 • comment

A review of e-health interventions for maternal and child health (MCH) to explore their influence on MCH practices in sub-Sahara Africa found a total of 18 relevant articles. Findings suggeswt that there is a need to move the application of ICT for MCH care from pilot initiatives to interventions involving all stakeholders on a sub-regional scale. These interventions should also adopt an integrated approach that takes care of the information needs at every stage along the continuum of care. It is anticipated that the study would be useful in the evolution and implementation of future ICT-based programmes for MCH in the region.

2nd May 2015 • comment

The objectives of this study were to estimate the prevalence of unmet need for family planning among married women using Botswana Family Health Survey 2007 data and to identify risk factors for unmet need for family planning among married women.Findings suggest that the prevalence of unmet need for family planning was low in Botswana compared to other sub-Saharan African countries. The findings from this study reemphasise the importance of women's empowerment and men's involvement in women's sexual and reproductive healthcare needs and services. Different approaches are needed to satisfy the demand for family planning for spacing and limiting.      

1st April 2015 • comment

Smoking in pregnancy is known to be associated with a range of adverse pregnancy outcomes, yet there is a high prevalence of smoking among pregnant women in many countries, and it remains a major public health concern. The authors have conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to provide contemporary estimates of the association between maternal smoking in pregnancy and the risk of stillbirth. The review findings confirm a dose-response effect of maternal smoking in pregnancy on risk of stillbirth. To minimise the risk of stillbirth, reducing current smoking prevalence in pregnancy should continue to be a key public health high priority.      

17th March 2015 • comment

Rubella

by Lambert et al

Rubella remains an important pathogen worldwide, with roughly 100 000 cases of congenital rubella syndrome estimated to occur every year. This seminar present results regarding rubella control, elimination, and eradication policies, and a brief review of new laboratory diagnostics.      

28th February 2015 • comment

Maternal mortality has declined by nearly half since 1990, but over a quarter million women still die every year of causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Maternal-health related targets are falling short of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals and a post-2015 Development Agenda is emerging. In connection with this, setting global research priorities for the next decade is now required. The authors in this paper adapted the methods of the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) to identify and set global research priorities for maternal and perinatal health for the period 2015 to 2025.    

1st December 2014 • comment

The authors in this study used hospital discharge records to examine the extent to which variability in the likelihood of cesarean section across US hospitals was attributable to individual women's clinical diagnoses. Findings suggest that variability across hospitals in the individual risk of cesarean section is not decreased by accounting for differences in maternal diagnoses.    

30th October 2014 • comment

Intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) is  recommended by WHO to prevent malaria in African pregnant women. The spread of SP parasite resistance has raised concerns regarding long-term use for IPT. Mefloquine (MQ) is the most promising of available alternatives to SP based on safety profile, long half-life, and high efficacy in Africa. This study evaluated the safety and efficacy of MQ for IPTp compared to those of SP in HIV-negative women. Women taking MQ IPTp (15 mg/kg) in the context of long lasting insecticide treated nets had similar prevalence rates of low birth weight as those taking SP IPTp. MQ recipients had less clinical malaria than SP recipients, and the pregnancy outcomes and safety profile were similar. MQ had poorer tolerability even when splitting the dose over two days. These results do not support a change in the current IPTp policy.

30th September 2014 • comment

Many preterm infants are not capable of exclusive breastfeeding from birth. To guide mothers in breastfeeding, it is important to know when preterm infants can initiate breastfeeding and progress. The aim of this study was to analyse postmenstrual age at breastfeeding milestones in different preterm gestational age groups, to describe rates of breastfeeding duration at pre-defined times, as well as analyse factors associated with PMA at the establishment of exclusive breastfeeding. The study concludes that breastfeeding competence is not developed at a fixed postmenstrual age, but is influenced by multiple factors in infants, mothers and clinical practice. Admitting mothers together with their infants to the NICU and minimising the use of pacifiers may contribute to earlier establishment of exclusive breastfeeding.

30th September 2014 • comment

This series of five papers assesses and summarizes information from relevant systematic reviews on the impact of various approaches to improve the quality of care for women and newborns.

17th September 2014 • comment

Despite the global burden of morbidity and mortality associated with preterm birth, little evidence is available for use of antenatal corticosteroids and tocolytic drugs in preterm births in low-income and middle-income countries. The authors in thsi study analysed data from the WHO Multicountry Survey on Maternal and Newborn Health (WHOMCS) to assess coverage for these interventions in preterm deliveries. Use of interventions was generally poor, despite evidence for their benefit for newborn babies. A substantial proportion of antenatal corticosteroid use occurred at gestational ages at which benefit is controversial, and use of less effective or potentially harmful tocolytic drugs was common. Implementation research and contextualised health policies are needed to improve drug availability and increase compliance with best obstetric practice.

13th September 2014 • comment

Worldwide, 250,000–280,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth every year and an estimated 6.55 million children die under the age of five. The majority of maternal deaths occur during or immediately after childbirth, while 43% of child death occurs during the first 28 days of life. However, the progress in limiting these has been slow and sporadic. In this supplement of five papers, teh authors aim to systematically assess and summarize essential interventions for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health from relevant systematic reviews.

22nd August 2014 • comment

Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is responsible for the higher rates of fetal, perinatal, and neonatal morbidity and mortality. This review details the IUGR risk factors, its short and long-term sequel, themechanism underlying the long-term consequences, and the strategies to tackle IUGR burden.

21st July 2014 • comment

With cesarean section rates increasing worldwide, clarity regarding negative effects is essential. This study aimed to investigate the rate of subsequent stillbirth, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy following primary cesarean section, controlling for confounding by indication. This study found that cesarean section is associated with a small increased rate of subsequent stillbirth and ectopic pregnancy. Underlying medical conditions, however, and confounding by indication for the primary cesarean delivery account for at least part of this increased rate. These findings will assist women and health-care providers to reach more informed decisions regarding mode of delivery.

7th July 2014 • comment

Maternal overweight and obesity increase risks of pregnancy and delivery complications and neonatal mortality, but the mechanisms are unclear. The objective of this study was to investigate associations between maternal body mass index (BMI) in early pregnancy and severe asphyxia-related outcomes in infants delivered at term (≥37 weeks).

22nd May 2014 • comment

Pakistan Food Fortification Scoping Study

by MQSUN and Pakistan food fortification study team

Food fortification is safe and cost-effective in the prevention of micronutrient deficiencies and has been widely practiced in developed countries for well over a century. The findings in this report clearly support the utilization of food fortification strategies at scale, which could build on the recent success of the iodized salt programme. Given the widespread prevalence in Pakistan of deficiencies in iron and in vitamins A and D, food fortification strategies offer a tangible option for delivering these micronutrients on a large scale.

16th May 2014 • comment
8th May 2014 • comment

There is growing evidence that seasonal influenza vaccination in pregnancy has benefits for mother and baby. The authors in this paper determined influenza vaccination rates among pregnant women during the 2 nonpandemic influenza seasons following the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, explored maternal factors as predictors of influenza vaccination status and evaluated the association between maternal influenza vaccination and neonatal outcomes. This study and others have shown an association between maternal influenza vaccination and improved neonatal outcomes, which supports stronger initiatives to promote vaccination during pregnancy.

29th April 2014 • comment

Stillbirth is strongly related to impaired fetal growth. However, the relationship between fetal growth and stillbirth is difficult to determine because of uncertainty in the timing of death and confounding characteristics affecting normal fetal growth. The study authors conducted a population-based case–control study of all stillbirths and a representative sample of live births in 59 hospitals in five geographic areas in the US. The study found that stillbirth is associated with both growth restriction and excessive fetal growth. These findings suggest that, contrary to current practices and recommendations, stillbirth prevention strategies should focus on both severe SGA and severe LGA pregnancies.

29th April 2014 • comment

Delayed cord clamping allows for the passage of blood from the placenta to the baby and reduces the risk of iron deficiency in infancy. To hold the infant for more than 1 min at the level of the vagina (as is presently recommended), on the assumption that gravity affects the volume of placental transfusion, is cumbersome, might result in low compliance, and interferes with immediate contact of the infant with the mother. This study aimed to assess whether gravity affects the volume of placental transfusion.

22nd April 2014 • comment

Good nutrition is important during pregnancy, breastfeeding and early life to optimise the health of women and children. It is difficult for low-income families to prioritise spending on healthy food. Healthy Start is a targeted United Kingdom (UK) food subsidy programme that gives vouchers for fruit, vegetables, milk, and vitamins to low-income families. This paper reports an evaluation of Healthy Start from the perspectives of women and health practitioners.

13th March 2014 • comment

In 2013, the WHO released a new set of guidelines on the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS. The new guidelines suggests that all pregnant women who test positive for HIV should immediately begin a course of triple ARVs, regardless of CD4 cell levels.

19th February 2014 • comment

Pre-eclampsia/eclampsia are leading causes of maternal mortality and morbidity, particularly in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs). The authors developed the miniPIERS risk prediction model to provide a simple, evidence-based tool to identify pregnant women in LMICs at increased risk of death or major hypertensive-related complications.

23rd January 2014 • comment

Moleen Zunza is a member of the Global Research Nurses' network and is part of the team that has published this systematic review.

13th January 2014 • comment

Though many countries are on-track in reducing poverty, less than a quarter of developing countries are on-track for achieving the goal of halving undernutrition. Maternal undernutrition is widely prevalent among women in the developing countries and encompasses both chronic energy as well as micronutrient deficiencies. Maternal undernutrition leads to intrauterine growth restriction and consequent low birth weight, stunting, wasting, underweight and other micronutrient deficiencies along with conditions predisposing to mortality. There are no effective therapies to reverse intrauterine growth restriction; hence focus should be on preventive strategies. In developing countries, the interventions likely to have the largest impact on intrauterine growth include caloric and micronutrient supplementation before and during pregnancy, coupled with supportive strategies for improving nutrition.

9th January 2014 • comment

The objective of this analysis was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness and budget impact of antenatal syphilis screening for 43 countries in SSA and estimate the impact of universal screening on stillbirths, neonatal deaths, congenital syphilis, and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) averted.

28th November 2013 • comment

Perinatal common mental disorders (PCMDs) are a major cause of disability among women. Psychosocial interventions are one approach to reduce the burden of PCMDs. Working with care providers who are not mental health specialists, in the community or in antenatal health care facilities, can expand access to these interventions in low-resource settings. The authors in this study assessed effects of such interventions compared to usual perinatal care, as well as effects of interventions based on intervention type, delivery method, and timing.

4th November 2013 • comment

Oxytocin is the drug of choice for prevention of postpartum hemorrhage. Its use has generally been restricted to medically trained staff in health facilities. The authors in this paper assessed the effectiveness, safety, and feasibility of PPH prevention using oxytocin injected by peripheral health care providers without midwifery skills at home births.

8th October 2013 • comment

This systematic review of the current evidence assessed the effectiveness of food fortification with single micronutrients (iron, folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin D, iodine, zinc) as well as MMN when compared with no fortification on the health and nutrition of women and children.

11th September 2013 • comment

Anemia affects over 500 million women, and in pregnancy is associated with impaired maternal and infant outcomes. Intermittent antenatal iron supplementation is an attractive alternative to daily dosing; however, the impact of this strategy on infant outcomes remains unclear. This study compared the effect of intermittent antenatal iron supplementation with daily iron supplementation on maternal and infant outcomes in rural Viet Nam.

26th August 2013 • comment

Facilitation of local women's groups may reportedly reduce neonatal mortality. It is not known whether facilitation of groups composed of local health care staff and politicians can improve perinatal outcomes. This study hypothesised that facilitation of local stakeholder groups would reduce neonatal mortality (primary outcome) and improve maternal, delivery, and newborn care indicators (secondary outcomes) in Quang Ninh province, Vietnam.

26th August 2013 • comment

Neonatal infections cause a significant proportion of deaths in the first week of life, yet little is known about risk factors and pathways of transmission for early-onset neonatal sepsis globally. This review aimed to estimate the risk of neonatal infection (excluding sexually transmitted diseases [STDs] or congenital infections) in the first seven days of life among newborns of mothers with bacterial infection or colonization during the intrapartum period.

26th August 2013 • comment

India, with a population of more than 1.21 billion, has the highest maternal mortality in the world (estimated to be 56000 in 2010); and adolescent (aged 15–19) mortality shares 9% of total maternal deaths. Addressing the maternity care needs of adolescents may have considerable ramifications for achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG)–5. This paper assesses the socioeconomic differentials in accessing full antenatal care and professional attendance at delivery by adolescent mothers (aged 15–19) in India during 1990–2006.

19th August 2013 • comment

The authors propose four arguments for why cervical cancer screening and treatment should be included when it comes to operationalizing these two goals and thus to improving reproductive and maternal health outcomes. Each of the four arguments is illustrative of a larger framework that has equity and socioeconomic, gender, public health, and health services dimensions.

16th August 2013 • comment

Malaria in pregnancy has important consequences for mother and baby. Coverage with the World Health Organization–recommended prevention strategy for pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) and insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) is low. This systematic review explores factors affecting delivery, access, and use of IPTp and ITNs among healthcare providers and women

13th August 2013 • comment

Recent research has established linkages of preconception interventions with improved maternal, perinatal and neonatal health outcomes and it has been suggested that several proven interventions recommended during pregnancy may be even more effective if implemented before conception. The authors in this report have collated and synthesized relevant information on interventions available during the preconception period by using standard methods.

2nd August 2013 • comment

Anemia affects over 500 million women, and in pregnancy is associated with impaired maternal and infant outcomes. Intermittent antenatal iron supplementation is an attractive alternative to daily dosing; however, the impact of this strategy on infant outcomes remains unclear. This study compared the effect of intermittent antenatal iron supplementation with daily iron supplementation on maternal and infant outcomes in rural Viet Nam.

26th August 2013 • comment

This study suggests that to achieve a substantial reduction in maternal mortality, a comprehensive approach to emergency care, and overall improvements in the quality of maternal health care will be needed.

11th July 2013 • comment

The authors in this study hypothesized that the association between previous abortion and the risk of preterm first birth changed in Scotland between 1 January 1980 and 31 December 2008.

10th July 2013 • comment

Little is known about factors contributing to inequities in antenatal care use in Ethiopia. This study aimed to assess inequities in the use of antenatal care on the basis of area of residence, administrative region, economic status and education.

17th June 2013 • comment

Integrating maternal mental health care will help advance maternal and child health (MCH) status. This paper is the second in a series of five articles providing a global perspective on integrating mental health.

7th June 2013 • comment

Malnutrition still remains one of the major public health challenges, particularly in developing countries. Major risk factors for undernutrition such as suboptimal breastfeeding and micronutrient deficiencies (vitamin A and zinc) are responsible for more than one-third of all under five child deaths and 11% of the global total disease burden. Several strategies have been employed to supplement micronutrients. These include education, dietary modification, food provision, supplementation and fortification either alone or in combination.

6th June 2013 • comment

Maternal and child undernutrition Series was launched in The Lancet in 2008. Five years after the initial series, the issue was re-evaluated including the growing problems of overweight and obesity for women and children, and their consequences in low-income and middle-income countries. Many of these countries are said to have the double burden of malnutrition: continued stunting of growth and deficiencies of essential nutrients along with the emerging issue of obesity. The national progress in nutrition programmes and international efforts toward previous recommendations were also evaluated

6th June 2013 • comment

The Lancet publishes a special themed issue to coincide with the third Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 28–30, 2013. Women Deliver brings together voices from around the world to generate political commitment and resource investments to improve the health and well-being of girls and women and achieve universal access to reproductive health. The studies published in The Lancet's themed issue use different methods to show the multidimensional nature of reproductive health and the influence of social determinants and health systems.

20th May 2013 • comment

The PLOS Medicine “Measuring Coverage in MNCH” Collection of research studies and reviews presents systematic assessments of the validity of health intervention coverage measurement based on household surveys, the primary method for estimating population-level intervention coverage in low- and middle-income countries. This is the first paper of the collection

10th May 2013 • comment

Integrating maternal mental health care will help advance maternal and child health (MCH) status. This paper is the second in a series of five articles providing a global perspective on integrating mental health.

7th June 2013 • comment

e have recently added a Canadian cohort study from PLOS Medicine providing valuable new evidence on preeclampsia (PEC) and the impetus for discussing whether it is now time to consider screening women with a history of hypertensive pregnancy disorders. This paper discusses the feasibility of systematic screening of women with a history of Hypertensive Pregnancyand its mangement.

7th May 2013 • comment

Women with preeclampsia (PEC) and gestational hypertension (GH) exhibit insulin resistance during pregnancy, independent of obesity and glucose intolerance. The authors in this paper aim to determine whether women with PEC or GH during pregnancy have an increased risk of developing diabetes after pregnancy, and whether the presence of PEC/GH in addition to gestational diabetes (GDM) increases the risk of future (postpartum) diabetes.

22nd April 2013 • comment

There is evidence that a young child's risk of dying increases following the mother's death, but little is known about the risk when the mother becomes very ill prior to her death. We hypothesized that children would be more likely to die during the period several months before their mother's death, as well as for several months after her death. Therefore the authors in this paper investigated the relationship between young children's likelihood of dying and the timing of their mother's death and, in particular, the existence of a critical period of increased risk.

28th March 2013 • comment
15th March 2013 • comment

It is estimated that 41.8% of pregnant women worldwide are anaemic. Approximately 60% of these cases in non-malarious areas, and 50% in malaria-endemic settings, are assumed to be due to iron deficiency. We share the WHO guideline providing global, evidence-informed recommendations on the use of multiple micronutrient powders for home fortification of foods consumed by pregnant women.

14th March 2013 • comment

The use of mobile phones has grown exponentially in the last decade including in some of the most remote and low-resource regions of the world. The use of mobile technology in health care is known as mHealth. mHealth interventions are being used internationally to improve maternal and child health. Be it the use of a mobile phone to call for emergency transport, remote consultation, or large-scale short message service (SMS)-based community education programs, mHealth is demonstrating its utility in reproductive health programs throughout the world. This article describes the evolution and challenges of mHealth, discusses the role of mHealth in achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, and addresses the potential impact of mHealth for midwives

7th March 2013 • comment

Syphilis continues to affect large numbers of pregnant women, causing substantial perinatal morbidity and mortality that could be prevented by early testing and treatment. The authors in the attached paper calculated global and regional estimates of syphilis in pregnancy and associated adverse outcomes for 2008, as well as antenatal care (ANC) coverage for women with syphilis.

5th March 2013 • comment

The universal coverage with the full package of these proven interventions at observed levels of program effectiveness could prevent about one quarter of child deaths under 36 months of age and reduce the prevalence of stunting at 36 months by about one third. I attach my recent review on the possible strategies to combat malnutrition include promotion of breastfeeding, dietary supplementation of micronutrients, prevention of protein-energy malnutrition, and hygiene of available weaning foods and how best topackage these intevrentions for universal scale-up.

8th February 2013 • comment

In response to the unacceptable maternal health situation, WHO has developed the Pilot Edition of the Safe Childbirth Checklist, to support the delivery of essential maternal and perinatal care practices. The WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist contains 29 items addressing the major causes of maternal death (namely, haemorrhage, infection, obstructed labour and hypertensive disorders), intrapartum-related stillbirths (namely, inadequate intrapartum care), and neonatal deaths (namely birth asphyxia, infection and complications related to prematurity) in low-income countries. It was developed following a rigorous methodology and tested for usability in ten countries across Africa and Asia. Please have a look at the below link:

6th February 2013 • comment

WHO proposes a set of organ-failure based criteria for maternal near miss. The objective was to evaluate what implementation of these criteria would mean for the analysis of a cohort of 386 women in Thyolo District, Malawi, who sustained severe acute maternal morbidity according to disease-based criteria.

6th February 2013 • comment

The health outcomes of women and children have not matched expectations from the gains in the coverage of care. Robust evidence exists for one explanatory factor: the poor–rich gaps in coverage found along the continuum of care for women and children, and particularly for the crucial period around childbirth. The more-neglected explanation for the mismatch between coverage and health outcomes is the quality of the care provided to women and children. The following paper is structured around a key cause and a consequence of the neglect of quality—weak measurement and poor evidence for action—and concludes with priorities for seizing the quality care opportunity.

6th February 2013 • comment

Women of reproductive age are at increased risk of anaemia because of chronic iron depletion during the menstrual cycle. It is estimated that worldwide there are 469 million anaemic women of reproductive age. At least half of the cases are attributed to iron deficiency. We share the WHO guidleines for Intermittent iron and folic acid supplementation in menstruating women.

26th January 2013 • comment

Maternal, newborn, and child health indices in Nigeria vary widely across geopolitical zones and between urban and rural areas, mostly due to variations in the availability of skilled attendance at birth. To improve these indices, the Midwives Service Scheme (MSS) in Nigeria engaged newly graduated, unemployed, and retired midwives to work temporarily in rural areas. This paper describes the structure, processes, challanges and the outcomes acheived through MSS.

24th January 2013 • comment

The emerging consensus is that improvement in women's health cannot be made through simple, vertical strategies; rather, it requires broad-based health system strengthening at every level of care, from the community to the clinic to the hospital. This paper reports experience in rural Lesotho, where a pilot program was implemented that provided comprehensive care of pregnant women from the community to the health center level, linking key primary care services (include HIV testing and treatment) to antenatal care (ANC) and facility-based delivery.

11th January 2013 • comment

Antenatal care (ANC) provides a crucial opportunity to reach high risk women and prevent pregnancy related complications and the consequent mortalities. We share a study conducted in Zambia that evaluates the role health service factors. The study objective was to assess how distance to facilities and level of service provision at ANC facilities in Zambia influenced the number and timing of ANC visits and the quality of care received.

9th January 2013 • comment

Among the hypertensive disorders that complicate pregnancy, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia stand out as major causes of maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity. The majority of deaths due to pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are avoidable through the provision of timely and effective care to the women presenting with these complications.We share the recent WHO guidelines for the prevention and management of Pre-Eclampsia/Eclampsia

9th January 2013 • comment

Post Partum Haemorrhage (PPH) is generally defined as blood loss greater than or equal to 500 ml within 24 hours after birth, while severe PPH is blood loss greater than or equal to 1000 ml within 24 hours. PPH is the most common cause of maternal death worldwide. We share the WHO guidelines for the mangement of PPH. It recommends that active management at the third stage of labour should include: (i) administration of a uterotonic soon after the birth of the baby; (ii) clamping of the cord following the observation of uterine contraction (at around 3 minutes); and (iii) delivery of the placenta by controlled cord traction, followed by uterine massage.

5th January 2013 • comment

Currently multiple vertical and integrated programs are running concurrently to provide estimates for HIV prevalances in epidemic areas. These programs require careful evaluations and comparisons.This study was conducted in Addis Ababa to compare HIV prevalence estimates from routine PMTCT programme and antenatal surveillance with the aim to come up with evidence based recommendation.

3rd January 2013 • comment

Inequity in access to and use of child and maternal health interventions is impeding progress towards the maternal and child health Millennium Development Goals. This study explores the potential health gains and equity impact if a set of priority interventions for mothers and under fives were scaled up to reach national universal coverage targets for MDGs in Tanzania.

3rd January 2013 • comment

This article describes a health portal developed in India aimed at providing one-stop access to efficiently search, organize and share maternal child health information relevant from public health perspective in the country.

3rd January 2013 • comment

Emergency obstetric care (EmOC) signal functions, reflecting health facilities' capacity to respond to important obstetric complications, are widely used to construct indicators of service provision. However, no signal functions are agreed for emergency newborn care (EmNC), except newborn resuscitation, or for routine non-emergency care for mothers and newborns. 

19th November 2012 • comment

This Policy Forum article aims to highlight opportunities for screening and appropriate treatment of life-threatening pregnancy-related interventions.

12th October 2012 • comment

The attached report by World Health Organization and UNICEF reports that Maternal mortality has declined dramatically, but faster progress is needed. The report further highlights geographical disparaties in maternal, newborn and child survival.

27th September 2012 • comment