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Thousands of women could be saved every year thanks to new way of treating bleeding

Researchers have found that a new treatment for women who experience severe bleeding following childbirth can reduce maternal mortality by 60%.

Postpartum hemorrhage, defined as the loss more than 500ml blood within 24 hours of birth, is the number one cause of maternal death worldwide. One woman dies every six minutes.

Around 70,000 women die each year from this disease, mainly in countries with low or middle income.

The World Health Organization, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham and more than 200,000 women from four countries, have found that using simple methods together can significantly reduce the number of deaths.


Researchers found that bundling WHO-recommended treatment options and measuring blood loss objectively using a low-cost device called a “drape” resulted to dramatic improvements for women.

Women were less likely to suffer from severe bleeding, which occurs when a woman loses over a litre after giving birth.

The rate of blood transfusions required for bleeding was also reduced, which is particularly important in countries with low incomes where blood is an expensive and scarce resource.

“Scary and unpredictable, but treatable”

A major problem in the current response to PPH is that often it is detected too late to allow medics to effectively respond.

Visual inspection is the most common method used by providers to determine bleeding. This can cause an underestimation of blood loss, and delay in treatment that could be life-threatening.

Treatment is usually provided in a sequence with gaps between interventions – resulting in more time spent if the initial options aren’t effective.

The study recommends that if a woman’s bleeding is severe, she should receive an immediate treatment package.

The treatment would include intravenous fluids, intrauterine massages, medications to stop bleeding and contract the womb, intravenous fluids, an examination, and, if necessary, advanced care.

All parts of the new system, called E-MOTIVE Intervention, can be done by midwives.

Read more about Mum’s agonising labor without pain relief

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A mother’s birth without pain relief

“Postpartum hemorrhage can be frightening, and not always predictable. But it is absolutely treatable. “Its effects are tragic around the globe,” said Dr Pascale Alleotey, WHO director of sexual and reproductive health and research and head of UN’s Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction.

She added, “No woman should be afraid for her life during childbirth.”

“Effective and accessible solutions to combat postpartum bleeding are needed so that women can have a safe delivery and a future of health with their families.”


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