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A spurt in Unneeded Medical Interventions for Healthy Pregnant Women: WHO Study

WHO’s new guidelines include 56 evidence-based recommendations on the best care for mother and baby during labour and immediately after

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WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus paid homage to his predecessor, Margaret Chan, saying the reforms begun under her leadership to make the World Health Organization more responsive and better able to tackle emergencies were now paying off.
The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, passed a number of resolutions aimed at improving global health. Wikimedia Common
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  • WHO is launching new recommendations aimed at reducing potentially harmful interventions
  • WHO says health providers tend to intervene medically when the rate of labour appears to be slower than what is considered normal
  • WHO warns unnecessary labour and potentially harmful routine medical interventions are rampant in all parts of the world – in poor and rich countries alike

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns healthy pregnant women are undergoing unnecessary medical interventions at an alarming rate. Given the trend, WHO is launching new recommendations aimed at reducing potentially harmful interventions.

The organization reports most of the estimated 140 million annual births occur without complications. Yet, it says over the past 20 years there has been a significant rise in medical interventions previously used to avoid risks. These include oxytocin infusion to speed up labour and caesarean sections.

WHO says health providers tend to intervene medically when the rate of labour appears to be slower than what is considered normal. This is based on a long-held benchmark for cervical dilation to occur at a rate of one centimetre per hour.

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Olufemi Oladapo, a medical officer in WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research, says every labour and childbirth is unique, and it is perfectly normal for some women to be slower than the prescribed rate of cervical dilation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns healthy pregnant women are undergoing unnecessary medical interventions at an alarming rate. Pixabay
The World Health Organization (WHO) warns healthy pregnant women are undergoing unnecessary medical interventions at an alarming rate. Pixabay

He says WHO has set another boundary for cervical dilation of up to five centimetres per hour during the first stage of labour until the woman is ready to push out the baby.

“It should not be longer than 12 hours for first-time mothers. And it should not be longer than 10 hours in subsequent labours…. So, as long as a woman is making some progress within that time frame, and the condition of the mother as well as the baby are reassuring, then there should be no reason for intervening,” Oladapo said.

WHO warns unnecessary labour and potentially harmful routine medical interventions are rampant in all parts of the world – in poor and rich countries alike. WHO’s new guidelines include 56 evidence-based recommendations on the best care for mother and baby during labour and immediately after.

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These include permitting a woman to have a companion of choice present during labour and childbirth; ensuring good communication between women and health providers; and allowing women to make decisions about their pain management, labour and birth positions. (VOA)

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Epileptic Pregnant Women Often Have Higher Risk of Death

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases affecting approximately sixty million people globally

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Pregnant Women
Risk of death 5 times higher in epileptic pregnant women: Study. Pixabay

The risk of dying during pregnancy is five times higher for pregnant women with epilepsy, finds a new study.

According to the study, from the Aarhus University in Denmark, pregnant women with epilepsy die of virtually the same conditions and events that women without epilepsy die of — ranging from accidents to blood clots, cancer and suicide — although with a greater frequency.

The results should be seen in light of the fact that in general, people with epilepsy have a higher mortality rate than the rest of the population. Overall, for women of childbearing age the mortality rate is 15 times higher, the researchers said.

“We can’t produce statistics on causes of death on the basis of five deceased pregnant women with epilepsy but we can conclude with great statistical certainty that pregnant women with epilepsy die five times more frequently than other pregnant women,” said Jakob Christensen, Associate Professor at the varsity.

For the study, the team examined a total of 2,110,084 pregnancies among which 11,976 (0.6 per cent) were pregnant women with epilepsy and a total of 176 women died during their pregnancy.

Pregnant Women
Lady with her baby. Pixabay

Mortality among women with epilepsy was compared with the mortality rate for women of the same age and social background.

“Although the absolute risk is small, we have to consider how we can follow pregnant women with epilepsy better than today,” Christensen said.

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“… We must take into account that the vast majority of pregnant women with epilepsy receive medication and are closely monitored during pregnancy, and that this probably helps to reduce the overall mortality because close monitoring means that there is better management of their epileptic seizures,” he said.

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases affecting approximately sixty million people globally. (IANS)