Posted by on January 16, 2014 - 12:56pm

Every year there are roughly 137 million births globally. Of these, about 10% may result in serious complications. Tragically, approximately 5.6 million babies are stillborn or pass away soon after, and around 260,000 women pass away every year in childbirth. These situations often occur in underdeveloped countries or rural areas where women do not have access to hospitals or procedures such as a cesarean section when undergoing an obstructed or prolonged labor. Currently, when situations like this arise, options to extract the baby include using forceps or a vacuum extractor, which can twist the baby’s spine, crush its head, or cause hemorrhaging. Despite these statistics and outdated technologies, there has been little to no technological advancement in this area for years.

However, Jorge Odón, a car mechanic from Argentina, recently came up with an idea for a new type of low cost device to help extract a baby from the birth canal. It consists of a plastic bag inside of a plastic sleeve. The bag is placed gently around the baby’s head and then inflated to grip it. When the sleeve is pulled, the baby emerges with it. This device is likely safer than using forceps or a vacuum extractor to assist in a difficult labor, and as there is less contact between the baby’s head and the birth canal, the risk of passing an infection such as HIV from mother to child may be diminished.

This birthing assistance device, known as the Odón Device, has been endorsed by the World Health Organization, which plans to increase testing from 30 Argentine women to 100 more women in China, India and South Africa to further determine its effectiveness and safety. The device has also received grants from donors, and has been licensed for production by an American company. If additional tests verify the claims that some doctors are making - that the device is safe to be used by midwives with minimal training - then the device may see clinical use in two to three years.

For more information on the Odón device, visit the WHO website here.


Posted by on January 3, 2013 - 2:30pm

On Tuesday, December 18th the Women’s Health Research Institute hosted speakers at the monthly lunch series to discuss women’s health, HIV and the vast advances made in HIV care the past 20 years. Although many aspects of HIV transmission, susceptibility, physicality and progress were examined, I was intrigued most by the research presented by Dr. Patricia Garcia on HIV transmission from mother to child.

Dr. Garcia thoughtfully described her vision of a generation without HIV. In that vision, she touched upon the methods through which rapid testing can detect whether a mother is HIV positive, and how that information can be used, along with new prevention methods to create a generation born without HIV.

The data Dr. Garcia presented was very powerful, showing how changes in HIV diagnosis vary greatly by race and gender. She highlighted that of all AIDS diagnoses from 1985-2010, the estimated percentage among adult and adolescent females increased from 7% in 1985 to 25% in 2010.

  Dr. Garcia further showed how the state of Illinois had progressed greatly over the last 15 year, making rapid HIV testing easily available in 2005, at which point the knowledge of HIV status among pregnant women increased significantly. This development influenced the considerable reduction in HIV+ births in the state of Illinois.

 The message is one of continued hope and the success of good health care research. With hard work, women’s health experts and community members saw an issue amongst women and children that could be improved with access, knowledge and prevention, giving new life to an entire generation of children.

Posted by on November 17, 2010 - 12:48pm

The following blog was posted on the Our Bodies Ourselves Blog and we felt it may be of interest to some of our followers.
Posted: 11 Nov 2010 08:28 AM PST
Many of you may already be familiar with the systematic and comparative effectiveness reviews produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), such as these reviews of the available evidence for birth-related interventions such as labor induction, maternal request c-section, VBAC, and episiotomy.

Recently, AHRQ has become more active in soliciting public input to the review process, and today they posted for public comment the key questions and background materials for a review that will be conducted soon, Comparative Effectiveness of Nitrous Oxide for the Management of Labor Pain.

Nitrous oxide is commonly available to women for labor pain relief in many other countries, but is almost completely unavailable as an option for women in the United States. The comparative effectiveness review on this topic will examine the available evidence and look at specific questions such as its effectiveness, adverse effects, effects on women’s satisfaction with their birth experience and pain management, and health system factors influencing whether nitrous oxide is available to women who would like that option.

The public is invited to comment on this list of key questions to be addressed by the review, and can also review some background information describing the current use of nitrous oxide in the United States, the nature of the available literature, and the outcomes the review will examine.
Public comment is being accepted through December 8, 2010 via this online form; the site also provides a document to download and submit by mail if you prefer.

This project is of particular interest to me because of my work with the AHRQ Evidence-based Practice Center conducting this review. I have been involved with this topic in its preliminary stages by helping to examine the literature and writing up background information to inform the feasibility and potential impact of a full comparative effectiveness review. I will continue to be involved with the project team when the full review begins, and of course will update here when the review is completed and released.

For additional discussion of nitrous oxide for labor pain relief, please see our 2008 post with guest commentary from Judith Rooks, who has been advocating for expanded access to this choice for U.S. women.