ResearchPad - women's-health https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Implementation of maternity protection legislation: Gynecologists’ perceptions and practices in French-speaking Switzerland]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11226 In several countries, maternity protection legislations (MPL) confer an essential role to gynecologist-obstetricians (OBGYNs) for the protection of pregnant workers and their future children from occupational exposures. This study explores OBGYNs’ practices and difficulties in implementing MPL in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.MethodsAn online survey was sent to 333 OBGYNs. Data analysis included: 1) descriptive and correlational statistics and 2) hierarchical cluster analysis to identify patterns of practices.ResultsOBGYNs evoked several problems in MPL implementation: absence of risk analysis in the companies, difficult collaboration with employers, lack of competencies in the field of occupational health. Preventive leave was underused, with sick leave being prescribed instead. Training had a positive effect on OBGYNs’ knowledge and implementation of MPL. Hierarchical cluster analysis highlighted three main types of practices: 1) practice in line with legislation; 2) practice on a case-by-case basis; 3) limited practice. OBGYNs with good knowledge of MPL more consistently applied its provisions.ConclusionThe implementation of MPL appears challenging for OBGYNs. Collaboration with occupational physicians and training might help OBGYNs to better take on their role in maternity protection. MPL in itself could be improved. ]]> <![CDATA[Development and validation of a questionnaire to assess healthcare personnel competence in cardiac arrest and resuscitation in pregnancy]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7826 Cardiac arrest is rare in pregnancy, and up-to date competence can be difficult to assess and maintain. The objective of this study was to develop and validate a questionnaire to assess healthcare personnel experiences, self-assessed competence and perception of role and resposibility related to cardiac arrest and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in pregnancyMethodsThe study had a cross-sectional design, developing and validating a questionnaire: the Competence in cardiac arrest and CPR in pregnancy (ComCA-P). Development and validation of the ComCA-P was conducted in three stages: 1) Literature review and expert group panel inputs, 2) a pilot study and 3) a cross-sectional questionnaire study. In stage one, the ComCA-P was developed over several iterations between the researchers, including inputs from an expert group panel consisting of highly competent professionals (n = 11). In stage two, the questionnaire was piloted in a group of healthcare personnel with relevant competence (n = 16). The ComCA-P was then used in a baseline study including healthcare personnel potentially involved in CPR in pregnancy (n = 527) in six hospital wards. Based on these data, internal consistency, intra-class correlations, and confirmatory factor analysis were utilized to validate the questionnaire.ResultsThe expert group and pilot study participants evaluated the appropriateness, relevance and accuracy to be high. Formulation of the items was considered appropriate, with no difficulties identified related to content- or face validity. Cronbach’s alpha was 0.8 on the thematic area self-assessment, and 0.73 on the theoretical knowledge area of the ComCA-P. On both the self-assessed competence items and the teoretical knowledge items, Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin was 0.8. Moreover, the Bertletts’ test of sphericity was greater than the critical value for chi-square, and significant (p < .0001).ConclusionsFindings indicate that the ComCA-P is a valid questionnaire that can be used to assess healthcare personnel competence in cardiac arrest and resuscitation in pregnancy. ]]> <![CDATA[Incidence and determinants of Implanon discontinuation: Findings from a prospective cohort study in three health zones in Kinshasa, DRC]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7634 Kinshasa is Africa's third largest city and one of the continent’s most rapidly growing urban areas. PMA2020 data showed that Kinshasa has a modern contraceptive prevalence of 26.5% among married women in 2018. In Kinshasa’s method mix, the contraceptive implant recently became the dominant method among contraceptive users married and in union. This study provides insight into patterns of implant use in a high-fertility setting by evaluating the 24-month continuation rate for Implanon NXT and identifying the characteristics associated with discontinuation.MethodologyThis community-based, prospective cohort study followed 531 Implanon users aged 18–49 years at 6, 12 and 24 months. The following information was collected: socio-demographic characteristics, Method Information Index (MII) and contraceptive history. The main outcome variable for this study was implant discontinuation. The incidence rate of discontinuation is presented as events per 1000 person/months (p-m), from the date of enrolment. The Cox proportional hazards modelling was used to measure predictors of discontinuation.ResultsA total of 9158.13 p-m were available for analysis, with an overall incidence rate of 9.06 (95% CI: 9.04–9.08) removals per 1000 p-m. Of nine possible co-variates tested, the likelihood of discontinuation was higher among women who lived in military camps, had less than three children, never used injectables or implants in the past, had experienced heavy/prolonged bleeding, and whose MII score was less than 3.ConclusionIn addition to four client characteristics that predicted discontinuation, we identified one programmatic factor: quality of counseling as measured by the Method Information Index. Community providers in similar contexts should pay more attention to clients having less than three children, new adopters, and to clients living military camps as underserved population, where clients have less access to health facilities. More targeted counselling and follow-up is needed, especially on bleeding patterns. ]]> <![CDATA[Model based estimation of QT intervals in non-invasive fetal ECG signals]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7659 The end timing of T waves in fetal electrocardiogram (fECG) is important for the evaluation of ST and QT intervals which are vital markers to assess cardiac repolarization patterns. Monitoring malignant fetal arrhythmias in utero is fundamental to care in congenital heart anomalies preventing perinatal death. Currently, reliable detection of end of T waves is possible only by using fetal scalp ECG (fsECG) and fetal magnetocardiography (fMCG). fMCG is expensive and less accessible and fsECG is an invasive technique available only during intrapartum period. Another safer and affordable alternative is the non-invasive fECG (nfECG) which can provide similar assessment provided by fsECG and fMECG but with less accuracy (not beat by beat). Detection of T waves using nfECG is challenging because of their low amplitudes and high noise. In this study, a novel model-based method that estimates the end of T waves in nfECG signals is proposed. The repolarization phase has been modeled as the discharging phase of a capacitor. To test the model, fECG signals were collected from 58 pregnant women (age: (34 ± 6) years old) bearing normal and abnormal fetuses with gestational age (GA) 20-41 weeks. QT and QTc intervals have been calculated to test the level of agreement between the model-based and reference values (fsECG and Doppler Ultrasound (DUS) signals) in normal subjects. The results of the test showed high agreement between model-based and reference values (difference < 5%), which implies that the proposed model could be an alternative method to detect the end of T waves in nfECG signals.

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<![CDATA[Sanitation and Health]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db0cab0ee8fa60bca73f

As one article in a four-part PLoS Medicine series on water and sanitation, David Trouba and colleagues discuss the importance of improved sanitation to health and the role that the health sector can play in its advocacy.

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<![CDATA[Gender norms and mass deworming program access in Comé, Benin: A qualitative assessment of gender-associated opportunities and challenges to achieving high mass drug administration coverage]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N0cbc3c85-9c5e-43fe-983c-4afc7d1b8db3

The World Health Organization’s Neglected Tropical Disease Roadmap has accelerated progress towards eliminating select neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). This momentum has catalyzed research to determine the feasibility of interrupting transmission of soil-transmitted helminths (STH) using community-wide mass drug administration (MDA). This study aims to identify potential gender-specific facilitators and barriers to accessing and participating in community-wide STH MDA, with the goal of ensuring programs are equitable and maximize the probability of interrupting STH transmission. This research was conducted prior to the launch of community-wide MDA for STH in Comé, Benin. A total of 10 focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted separately among 40 men, 38 women, and 15 community drug distributors (CDDs). Salient themes included: both men and women believe that community-wide MDA would reduce the financial burden associated with self-treatment, particularly for low income adults. Community members believe MDA should be packaged alongside water, sanitation, and other health services. Women feel past community-wide programs have been disorganized and are concerned these distributions will be similar. Women also expressed interest in increased engagement in the implementation of future community-based public health programs. Men often did not perceive themselves to be at great risk for STH infection and did not express a high demand for treatment. Finally, the barriers discussed by CDDs generally did not align with gender-specific concerns, but rather represented concerns shared by both genders. A door-to-door distribution strategy for STH MDA is preferred by women in this study, as this platform empowers women to participate as health decision makers for their family. In addition, involving women in planning and implementation of community-wide programs may help to increase treatment coverage and compliance.

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<![CDATA[Deep learning assessment of breast terminal duct lobular unit involution: Towards automated prediction of breast cancer risk]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N8ae86a5e-90c1-41b1-ba31-58a5a939e3bc

Terminal duct lobular unit (TDLU) involution is the regression of milk-producing structures in the breast. Women with less TDLU involution are more likely to develop breast cancer. A major bottleneck in studying TDLU involution in large cohort studies is the need for labor-intensive manual assessment of TDLUs. We developed a computational pathology solution to automatically capture TDLU involution measures. Whole slide images (WSIs) of benign breast biopsies were obtained from the Nurses’ Health Study. A set of 92 WSIs was annotated for acini, TDLUs and adipose tissue to train deep convolutional neural network (CNN) models for detection of acini, and segmentation of TDLUs and adipose tissue. These networks were integrated into a single computational method to capture TDLU involution measures including number of TDLUs per tissue area, median TDLU span and median number of acini per TDLU. We validated our method on 40 additional WSIs by comparing with manually acquired measures. Our CNN models detected acini with an F1 score of 0.73±0.07, and segmented TDLUs and adipose tissue with Dice scores of 0.84±0.13 and 0.87±0.04, respectively. The inter-observer ICC scores for manual assessments on 40 WSIs of number of TDLUs per tissue area, median TDLU span, and median acini count per TDLU were 0.71, 0.81 and 0.73, respectively. Intra-observer reliability was evaluated on 10/40 WSIs with ICC scores of >0.8. Inter-observer ICC scores between automated results and the mean of the two observers were: 0.80 for number of TDLUs per tissue area, 0.57 for median TDLU span, and 0.80 for median acini count per TDLU. TDLU involution measures evaluated by manual and automated assessment were inversely associated with age and menopausal status. We developed a computational pathology method to measure TDLU involution. This technology eliminates the labor-intensiveness and subjectivity of manual TDLU assessment, and can be applied to future breast cancer risk studies.

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<![CDATA[Association between cigarette smoking and the risk of dysmenorrhea: A meta-analysis of observational studies]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N299c77b6-7bcf-4190-8f14-766ff39e61a2

Background

Emerging studies have found inconsistent results on the potential relationship between cigarette smoking and dysmenorrhea. Therefore, the aim of this study was to quantitatively synthesize the previous findings on the preceding relationship using meta-analysis.

Methods

Previous studies on the association between cigarette smoking and dysmenorrhea, published not later than November 2019, were systematically searched, using MeSH heading and/or relevant terms, in the electronic databases of PubMed, Medline, Web of Science and EMBASE. The I2 statistic was used to assess heterogeneity, whose source was explored using subgroup analysis. A pooled effect size was obtained using random effects model, and sensitivity analysis was performed to assess the consistency of the pooled effect size.

Results

After a rigorous screening process, 24 studies involving 27,091 participants were included in this meta-analysis. The results indicated that smokers were 1.45 times more likely to develop dysmenorrhea than non-smokers (odds ratio (OR) = 1.45, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.30–1.61). In addition, individuals classified as currently smoking were 1.50 times more likely to develop dysmenorrhea than those who were classified as never smoking (OR = 1.50, 95% CI: 1.33–1.70), whereas being a former smoker was 1.31 times more likely to develop dysmenorrhea than being a never smoker (OR = 1.31, 95% CI: 1.18–1.46). Sensitivity analysis showed that exclusion of any single study did not materially alter the overall combined effect.

Conclusion

The evidence from this meta-analysis indicated a significant association between cigarette smoking (both current and former smoking) and dysmenorrhea. The adverse effects of smoking provide further support for prevention of dysmenorrhea and emphasize the need to target women.

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<![CDATA[Variation in plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D2 and D3 in normal pregnancy with gestational age, sampling season, and complications: A longitudinal cohort study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Ndf1a2733-e0b1-4fc7-90ad-b2bfa4368f5f

Introduction

Low levels of vitamin D in pregnancy have been associated with the risk of a variety of pregnancy outcomes. Few studies have investigated vitamin D concentrations throughout pregnancy in healthy women, and most guidelines recommend high vitamin D levels. In the present study, we investigated 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations in healthy Caucasian Danish women in relation to season, gestational age and possible vitamin D-linked complications.

Materials and methods

Eight hundred and one healthy Caucasian Danish women with an expected normal pregnancy were recruited among 2147 women attending first trimester screening. Seven blood samplings were planned throughout the pregnancy and delivery period. The 25-hydroxyvitamin D2 (25(OH)D2) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25(OH)D3) concentrations were measured by LC-MS/MS and total 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) were calculated.

Results

A total of 3304 samples from 694 women were available for 25(OH)D measurements. The mean (25th-75th percentiles) concentrations of 25(OH)D, 25(OH)D3, and 25(OH)D2 were 54.6 (38.8–68.6) nmol/L, 52.2 (36.4–66.4) nmol/L, and 2.4 (2.2–2.2) nmol/L, respectively. Season was the strongest predictor of 25(OH)D concentration, with the lowest values observed in winter and spring, where only 42% and 41% of samples, respectively, were above 50 nmol/L. Nearly all women had values below the suggested optimal level of 75 nmol/L, independent of season. 25(OH)D peaked at gestational weeks 21–34. Plasma 25(OH)D2 levels were low in all seasons. Women with complications during pregnancy had higher 25(OH)D (estimated difference 9.8 nmol/L, standard error 2.7, p<0.001) than did women without complications, and women giving birth vaginally had lower 25(OH)D than did those delivering via elective (10.0 nmol/L, standard error 2.1, p<0.001) or emergency cesarean section (6.8 nmol/L, standard error 2.2, p<0.001).

Conclusion

The 25(OH)D concentrations vary with both season and gestational age. Healthy women had lower 25(OH)D concentrations than recommended, without an association with an increased risk of pregnancy complications. Guidelines for vitamin D in pregnancy may require revision.

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<![CDATA[High prevalence of caesarean birth among mothers delivered at health facilities in Bahir Dar city, Amhara region, Ethiopia. A comparative study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nc10b7a7b-4e34-4c06-9bc7-b9eb28d75615

Objective

The study aimed to assess and compare the prevalence of caesarean birth and associated factors among women gave birth at public and private health facilities in Bahir Dar city, Amhara region, Ethiopia.

Methods

An institution-based comparative cross-sectional study design was conducted from March1-April 15, 2019 at health facility provide emergency obstetrics service in Bahir Dar city. Study participants 724(362 for each public and private facility) were recruited using a systematic random sampling technique. Structured interview administered questionnaires and chart review checklist were used to collect data. The data were entered into Epi info version 7.2 and analyzed using SPSS version 23.0 software. A binary logistic regression model was fitted and an adjusted odds ration with 95% CI was used to determine the presence and strength of association between independent variables and cesarean birth.

Results

The response rate was 98.3% and 97.2% for public and private health facilities respectively. The prevalence of caesarean birth in private health facilities was 198 (56.3%) (95%CI: 50.9, 61.4) and in public health facilities was 98 (27.5%) (95%CI: 22.8, 32.2). Overall prevalence of caesarean birth was 296 (41.8%) (95%CI: 38.4, 45.5). Breech presentation (AOR = 3.64; 95%CI:1.49, 8.89), urban residence (AOR = 6.54; 95%CI:2.59, 16.48) and being referred (AOR = 2.44; 95%CI:1.46, 4.08) were variables significantly associated with caesarean birth among public facilities whereas age between 15–24 (AOR = 0.20, 95% CI; 0.07, 0.52), government employe (AOR = 2.28; 95%CI: 1.39,3.75), self-employed (AOR = 3.73; 95%CI:1.15,8.59), para one (AOR = 6.79; 95%CI:2.02, 22.79), para two (AOR = 3.88; 95% CI:1.15,13.08), and wealth index being highest level of wealth asset AOR = 5.39; 95%CI:1.08, 26.8) in private health facility associated with caesarean birth.

Conclusions

We concluded that there is high prevalence of caesarean birth both in private and public facility. There is a statistically significant difference in the prevalence of caesarean birth in public and private health facilities.

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<![CDATA[Detection of microbial cell-free DNA in maternal and umbilical cord plasma in patients with chorioamnionitis using next generation sequencing]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N85cfbb28-a074-423a-88cd-d5e05af52830

Background

Chorioamnionitis has been linked to spontaneous preterm labor and complications such as neonatal sepsis. We hypothesized that microbial cell-free (cf) DNA would be detectable in maternal plasma in patients with chorioamnionitis and could be the basis for a non-invasive method to detect fetal exposure to microorganisms.

Objective

The purpose of this study was to determine whether next generation sequencing could detect microbial cfDNA in maternal plasma in patients with chorioamnionitis.

Study design

Maternal plasma (n = 94) and umbilical cord plasma (n = 120) were collected during delivery at gestational age 28–41 weeks. cfDNA was extracted and sequenced. Umbilical cord plasma samples with evidence of contamination were excluded. The prevalence of microorganisms previously implicated in choriomanionitis, neonatal sepsis and intra-amniotic infections, as described in the literature, were examined to determine if there was enrichment of these microorganisms in this cohort. Specific microbial cfDNA associated with chorioamnionitis was first detected in umbilical cord plasma and confirmed in the matched maternal plasma samples (n = 77 matched pairs) among 14 cases of histologically confirmed chorioamnionitis and one case of clinical chorioamnionitis; 63 paired samples were used as controls. A correlation of rank of a given microorganism across maternal plasma and matched umbilical cord plasma was used to assess whether signals found in umbilical cord plasma were also present in maternal plasma.

Results

Microbial DNA sequences associated with clinical and/or histological chorioamnionitis were enriched in maternal plasma in cases with suspected chorioamnionitis when compared to controls (12/14 microorganisms, p = 0.02). Analysis of the microbial cfDNA in umbilical cord plasma among the 1,251 microorganisms detectable with this assay identified Streptococcus mitis, Ureaplasma spp., and Mycoplasma spp. in cases of suspected chorioamnionitis. This assay also detected cfDNA from Lactobacillus spp. in controls. Comparison between maternal plasma and umbilical cord plasma confirmed these signatures were also present in maternal plasma. Unbiased analysis of microorganisms with significantly correlated signal between matched maternal plasma and umbilical cord plasma identified the above listed 3 microorganisms, all of which have previously been implicated in patients with chorioamnionitis (Mycoplasma hominis p = 0.0001; Ureaplasma parvum p = 0.002; Streptococcus mitis p = 0.007). These data show that the pathogen signal relevant for chorioamnionitis can be identified in both maternal and umbilical cord plasma.

Conclusion

This is the first report showing the detection of relevant microbial cell-free cfDNA in maternal plasma and umbilical cord plasma in patients with clinical and/or histological chorioamnionitis. These results may lead to the development of a specific assay to detect perinatal infections for targeted therapy to reduce early neonatal sepsis complications.

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<![CDATA[The SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2 expression of maternal-fetal interface and fetal organs by single-cell transcriptome study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N6fc22072-15f3-4c64-b34f-34474f5cf931

The new type of pneumonia caused by the SARS-CoV-2 (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) has been declared as a global public health concern by WHO. As of April 3, 2020, more than 1,000,000 human infections have been diagnosed around the world, which exhibited apparent person-to-person transmission characteristics of this virus. The capacity of vertical transmission in SARS-CoV-2 remains controversial recently. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is now confirmed as the receptor of SARS-CoV-2 and plays essential roles in human infection and transmission. In present study, we collected the online available single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) data to evaluate the cell specific expression of ACE2 in maternal-fetal interface as well as in multiple fetal organs. Our results revealed that ACE2 was highly expressed in maternal-fetal interface cells including stromal cells and perivascular cells of decidua, and cytotrophoblast and syncytiotrophoblast in placenta. Meanwhile, ACE2 was also expressed in specific cell types of human fetal heart, liver and lung, but not in kidney. And in a study containing series fetal and post-natal mouse lung, we observed ACE2 was dynamically changed over the time, and ACE2 was extremely high in neonatal mice at post-natal day 1~3. In summary, this study revealed that the SARS-CoV-2 receptor was widely spread in specific cell types of maternal-fetal interface and fetal organs. And thus, both the vertical transmission and the placenta dysfunction/abortion caused by SARS-CoV-2 need to be further carefully investigated in clinical practice.

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<![CDATA[Levonorgestrel emergency contraception and bodyweight: are current recommendations consistent with historic data?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N8c279784-748f-462d-b7a1-00e5f195e761

Abstract

Objective: To assess the consistency between current recommendations that women of body weight (BW) or body mass index (BMI) above a defined threshold should use a double dose of levonorgestrel (LNG) for emergency contraception (EC) and observed frequency of pregnancy in historic studies of single-dose LNG for EC.

Methods: We applied double dose recommendation criteria to individual participant level data from three historic studies of the WHO’s Human Reproductive Program to categorize subjects into single dose-recommended (SDR) and double dose-recommended (DDR) groups and compared the latter to the former using pregnancy risk ratios (RR).

Results: A total of 5859 subjects with 59 pregnancies made up the full dataset. Depending on the recommendation source (USA or UK) and inclusion or exclusion of heavy outlier data, DDR criteria were satisfied by 3.7% to 18.9% of subjects. Pregnancy proportions were mostly lower in DDR than in SDR subjects, with risk ratio estimates ranging from zero to 1.17, exceeding unity only when the USA criterion was used with outliers included. DDR subjects had a significantly lower relative frequency of pregnancy than SDR subjects when the UK criteria were used and outliers excluded (RR = 0.17 [95% CI: 0.04; 0.70], p = .0024).

Conclusions: Our findings are consistent with the notion that there is no real loss of pregnancy control with single-dose LNG-EC in high-BMI and/or high-BW users, and today’s double dose recommendations were prematurely issued and remain questionable.

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<![CDATA[Would you like to participate in this trial? The practice of informed consent in intrapartum research in the last 30 years]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Na45ec8a9-d35b-4ecd-a654-0f10371697fd

Background

Informed consent is the cornerstone of the ethical conduct and protection of the rights and wellbeing of participants in clinical research. Therefore, it is important to identify the most appropriate moments for the participants to be informed and to give consent, so that they are able to make a responsible and autonomous decision. However, the optimal timing of consent in clinical research during the intrapartum period remains controversial, and currently, there is no clear guidance.

Objective

We aimed to describe practices of informed consent in intrapartum care clinical research in the last three decades, as reported in uterotonics for postpartum haemorrhage prevention trials.

Methods

This is a secondary analysis of the studies included in the Cochrane review entitled “Uterotonic agents for preventing postpartum haemorrhage: a network meta-analysis” published in 2018. All the reports included in the Cochrane network meta-analysis were eligible for inclusion in this analysis, except for those reported in languages other than English, French or Spanish. We extracted and synthesized data on the time each of the components of the informed consent process occurred.

Results

We assessed data from 192 studies, out of 196 studies included in the Cochrane review. The majority of studies (59.9%, 115 studies) reported that women were informed about the study, without specifying the timing. When reported, most studies informed women at admission to the facility for childbirth. Most of the studies reported that consent was sought, but only 59.9% reported the timing, which in most of the cases, was at admission for childbirth. Among these, 32 studies obtained consent in the active phase of labour, 17 in the latent phase and in 10 studies the labour status was unknown. Women were consented antenatally in 6 studies and in 8 studies the consent was obtained indistinctly during antenatal care or at admission. Most of the studies did not specified who was the person who sought the informed consent.

Conclusion

Practices of informed consent in trials on use of uterotonics for prevention of postpartum haemorrhage showed variability and substandard reporting. Informed consent sought at admission for childbirth was the most frequent approach implemented in these trials.

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<![CDATA[Prevalence of anaemia and low intake of dietary nutrients in pregnant women living in rural and urban areas in the Ashanti region of Ghana]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N7036aac7-9527-4ec9-a4ca-1b112d15d377

Background

Anaemia remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality among women and children worldwide. Because deficiencies in essential micronutrients such as iron, folate and vitamin B12 prior to and during gestation increase a woman’s risk of being anaemic, adequate dietary intake of such nutrients is vital during this important phase in life. However, information on the dietary micronutrient intakes of pregnant women in Ghana, particularly of those resident in rural areas is scanty. Thus, this study aimed to assess anaemia prevalence and dietary micronutrient intakes in pregnant women in urban and rural areas in Ghana.

Methods

A comparative cross sectional study design involving 379 pregnant women was used to assess the prevalence of anaemia and low intake of dietary nutrients in pregnant women living in rural and urban areas in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Anaemia status and mid upper arm circumference (MUAC) were used as proxy for maternal nutritional status. Haemoglobin measurements were used to determine anaemia prevalence and the dietary diversity of the women were determined with a 24-hour dietary recall and a food frequency questionnaire.

Results

Overall, anaemia was present in 56.5% of the study population. Anaemia prevalence was higher among rural residents than urban dwellers. Majority of the respondents had inadequate intakes of iron, zinc, folate, calcium and vitamin A. The mean dietary diversity score (DDS) of the study population from the first 24-hour recall was 3.81 ± 0.7. Of the 379 women, 28.8% met the minimum dietary diversity for women (MDD-W). The independent predictors of haemoglobin concentration were, gestational age, maternal age and dietary diversity score. Such that respondents with low DDS were more likely to be anaemic than those with high DDS (OR = 1.795, p = 0.022, 95% CI: 1.086 to 2.967).

Conclusions

A large percentage of pregnant women still have insufficient dietary intakes of essential nutrients required to support the nutritional demands during pregnancy. Particularly, pregnant women resident in rural areas require interventions such as nutrition education on the selection and preparation of diversified meals to mitigate the effects of undernutrition.

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<![CDATA[Predicting resource-dependent maternal health outcomes at a referral hospital in Zanzibar using patient trajectories and mathematical modeling]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8823d5d5eed0c4846390ee

Poor intra-facility maternity care is a major contributor to maternal mortality in low- and middle-income countries. Close to 830 women die each day due to preventable maternal complications, partly due to the increasing number of women giving birth in health facilities that are not adequately resourced to manage growing patient populations. Barriers to adequate care during the ‘last mile’ of healthcare delivery are attributable to deficiencies at multiple levels: education, staff, medication, facilities, and delays in receiving care. Moreover, the scope and multi-scale interdependence of these factors make individual contributions of each challenging to analyze, particularly in settings where basic data registration is often lacking. To address this need, we have designed and implemented a novel systems-level and dynamic mathematical model that simulates the impact of hospital resource allocations on maternal mortality rates at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital (MMH), a referral hospital in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The purpose of this model is to provide a rigorous and flexible tool that enables hospital administrators and public health officials to quantitatively analyze the impact of resource constraints on patient outcomes within the maternity ward, and prioritize key areas for further human or capital investment. Currently, no such tool exists to assist administrators and policy makers with effective resource allocation and planning. This paper describes the structure and construct of the model, provides validation of the assumptions made with anonymized patient data and discusses the predictive capacity of our model. Application of the model to specific resource allocations, maternal treatment plans, and hospital loads at MMH indicates through quantitative results that medicine stocking schedules and staff allocations are key areas that can be addressed to reduce mortality by up to 5-fold. With data-driven evidence provided by the model, hospital staff, administration, and the local ministries of health can enact policy changes and implement targeted interventions to improve maternal health outcomes at MMH. While our model is able to determine specific gaps in resources and health care delivery specifically at MMH, the model should be viewed as an additional tool that may be used by other facilities seeking to analyze and improve maternal health outcomes in resource constrained environments.

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<![CDATA[The role of the erythrocyte in the outcome of pregnancy with preeclampsia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c897713d5eed0c4847d23cc

The objective of this study was to analyze the relationships of osmotic and mechanical stability of erythrocytes with anthropometric, biochemical, hematologic and hemodynamic variables in pregnant women with preeclampsia (PE). The studied population consisted of 20 normotensive patients and 16 patients with PE. Patients with PE presented worse gestational outcome, greater hematologic impairment, erythrocytes osmotically more stable in vitro, but in conditions of isotonicity with the in vivo medium, in addition to hyperflow in orbital territory, when compared to normotensive patients. The correlation analysis between anthropometric, hematologic and hemodynamic variables in patients with PE indicated that erythrocytes with lower volumes and lower levels of hemoglobin favor the occurrence of a better gestational outcome, because they are more stable and because they are associated with a decrease in the hemodynamic changes present in the disease. This should mean that the tendency to microcytosis, probably due to a mechanism of compensatory mechanical selection, is a desirable characteristic in the disease.

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<![CDATA[Dynamics of leukocyte telomere length in pregnant women living with HIV, and HIV-negative pregnant women: A longitudinal observational study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c897779d5eed0c4847d2db4

Background

HIV-mediated inflammation and immune activation can accelerate telomere attrition. In addition, antiretrovirals can inhibit telomerase, possibly shortening telomeres. We examined the longitudinal dynamics of leukocyte telomere length (LTL) during pregnancy in a unique cohort of women living with HIV (WLWH) treated with combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), and HIV-negative control women.

Methods

Blood was collected at three visits during pregnancy, at 13–23, >23–30, and >30–40 weeks of gestation, and for WLWH only, at 6 weeks post-partum. LTL was measured by qPCR and both cross-sectional and longitudinal (MANOVA) models were used to examine possible predictors of LTL among participants who attended all three visits during pregnancy.

Results

Among WLWH (n = 64) and HIV-negative women (n = 41), within participant LTL were correlated throughout pregnancy (p<0.001). LTL was shorter among WLWH at first visit, but this difference waned by the second visit. WLWH who discontinued cART post-partum experienced a decrease in LTL. Longitudinally, LTL was similar in both groups and increased as gestation progressed, a change that was more pronounced among women under 35 years. Among WLWH, both smoking throughout pregnancy (p = 0.04) and receiving a ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitor-based regimen (p = 0.03) were independently associated with shorter LTL.

Conclusions

LTL increases as pregnancy progresses; the reasons for this are unknown but may relate to changes in blood volume, hormones, and/or cell subset distribution. While our observations need confirmation in an independent cohort, our data suggest that although some cART regimens may influence LTL, being on cART appears overall protective and that stopping cART post-partum may negatively impact LTL. The effect of smoking on LTL is clearly negative, stressing the importance of smoking cessation.

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<![CDATA[Implementing the INTERGROWTH-21st gestational dating and fetal and newborn growth standards in peri-urban Nairobi, Kenya: Provider experiences, uptake and clinical decision-making]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8c1980d5eed0c484b4d7dd

Background

Perinatal and newborn complications are major risk factors for unfavorable fetal and neonatal outcomes. Gestational dating and growth monitoring can be instrumental in the identification and management of high-risk pregnancies and births. The INTERGROWTH-21st Project developed the first global standards for gestational dating and fetal and newborn growth monitoring, supplying a toolkit for clinicians. This study aimed to assess the feasibility and acceptability of the first known implementation study of these standards in a low resource setting.

Methods

The study was performed in two 12-month phases from March 2016 to March 2018 at Jacaranda Health, a private maternity hospital in peri-urban Nairobi, Kenya. In-depth interviews, focus group discussions and a provider survey were utilized to evaluate providers’ experiences during implementation. Client chart data, for pregnant women attending antenatal care and/or delivering at Jacaranda Health along with their newborns, were captured to assess uptake and effect of the standards on clinical decision-making.

Results

Facility-level support and provider buy-in proved to be critical factors driving the success of implementing the standards. However, additional support was needed to strengthen capacity to conduct and interpret ultrasounds and maintain motivation among providers. We observed a significant increase in the uptake of obstetric ultrasounds, particularly gestational dating, during the implementation of the standards. Although no significant changes were detected in the identification of high-risk pregnancies, referrals and deliveries by Cesarean section during implementation, we did observe a significant reduction in inductions for post-date. No significant barriers were reported regarding the use of the newborn standards. Over 80% of providers advocated for the standards to remain in place with some enhancements related mainly to training, advocacy and procurement.

Conclusions

The findings are timely with increasing global adoption of the standards and the challenging and multi-faceted nature of translating new, evidence-based guidelines into routine clinical practice.

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<![CDATA[The role of embryo contact and focal adhesions during maternal recognition of pregnancy]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8823f5d5eed0c484639429

Maternal recognition of pregnancy (MRP) in the mare is an unknown process. In a non-pregnant mare on day 14 post-ovulation (PO), prostaglandin F (PGF) is secreted by the endometrium causing regression of the corpus luteum. Prior to day 14, MRP must occur in order to attenuate secretion of PGF. The embryo is mobile throughout the uterus due to uterine contractions from day of entry to day 14. It is unknown what signaling is occurring. Literature stated that infusing oil or placing a glass marble into the equine uterus prolongs luteal lifespan and that in non-pregnant mares, serum exosomes contain miRNA that are targeting the focal adhesion (FA) pathway. The hypothesis of this study is embryo contact with endometrium causes a change in abundance of focal adhesion molecules (FA) in the endometrium leading to decrease in PGF secretion. Mares (n = 3/day) were utilized in a cross-over design with each mare serving as a pregnant and non-pregnant (non-mated) control on days 9 and 11 PO. Mares were randomly assigned to collection day and endometrial samples and embryos were collected on the specified day. Biopsy samples were divided into five pieces, four for culture for 24 hours and one immediately snap frozen. Endometrial biopsies for culture were placed in an incubator with one of four treatments: [1] an embryo in contact on the luminal side of the endometrium, [2] beads in contact on the luminal side of the endometrium, [3] peanut oil in contact on the luminal side of the endometrium or [4] the endometrium by itself. Biopsies and culture medium were frozen for further analysis. RNA and protein were isolated from biopsies for PCR and Western blot analysis for FA. PGF assays were performed on culture medium to determine concentration of PGF. Statistics were performed using SAS (P ≤ 0.05 indicated significance). The presence of beads on day 9 impacted samples from pregnant mares more than non-pregnant mares and had very little impact on day 11. Presence of oil decreased FA in samples from pregnant mares on day 9. On day 11, oil decreased FA abundance in samples from non-pregnant mares. Embryo contact caused multiple changes in RNA and protein abundance in endometrium from both pregnant and non-pregnant mares. The PGF secretion after 24 hours with each treatment was also determined. On day 9, there was no change in PGF secretion compared to any treatments. On day 11, presence of peanut oil increased PGF secretion in samples from non-pregnant mares. In samples from non-pregnant mares, presence of an embryo decreased PGF secretion compared to control samples from non-pregnant mares. Results revealed that while beads and peanut oil may impact abundance of FA RNA and protein in endometrial samples, it does not appear to impact PGF secretion. Conversely, embryo contact for 24 hours with endometrium from a non-pregnant mare causes a decrease in PGF secretion. These results suggest that it is not just contact of any substance/object causing attenuation of PGF secretion, but the embryo itself is necessary to decrease PGF secretion.

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