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NIHR Signal No benefit from monitoring antiepileptic drug levels in pregnancy
Regular monitoring of antiepileptic drug levels in pregnant women with epilepsy does not improve seizure control compared with clinical features-based monitoring. This NIHR-funded study was conducted across 50 UK hospitals and is the largest randomised trial in pregnant women with epilepsy. Just over 260 pregnant women with unstable antiepileptic drug levels were assigned to ongoing monthly blood checks or clinical features monitoring. There were no differences in seizures or other pregnancy ou...
NIHR Signal Better pain relief for women in labour
Women in labour, who had the short acting strong painkiller remifentanil, rather than pethidine, had less need for further pain relief. Only 19% of women given remifentanil received a subsequent epidural compared with 41% given pethidine. Remifentanil was given intravenously, using a patient-controlled delivery device, and pethidine given by intramuscular injection. This NIHR-funded study is the first large trial to compare intravenous remifentanil (administered via a patient-controlled deliver...
NIHR Signal Women rate quality and safety of birth experience as important
Most healthy women would like a natural birth if possible, but acknowledge the unpredictability and risks of childbirth. They also appreciate the supportive care environment where healthcare providers are competent, kind and respectful to them, their partners and their baby. In a large review of studies with over 1,800 women’s views on what matters in childbirth, having a healthy baby was important. Avoiding unnecessary medical intervention and retaining a sense of control over their birt...
NIHR Signal Inducing labour at or after 41 weeks reduces risks to infants
Inducing labour after the due date slightly lowers the risk of stillbirth or infant death soon after birth compared with watchful waiting. But the overall risk is very low. Induced deliveries may reduce admissions to the neonatal intensive care unit. Pregnant women having induced labour are less likely to have a caesarean section than those who wait for labour to begin naturally. They may have a slightly higher chance of needing an assisted vaginal birth (for example, using forceps or vacuum ex...
NIHR Signal Testing oxygen levels of newborn babies helps find serious heart defects
Measuring oxygen levels in newborn babies as part of routine care can identify cases of critical congenital heart defects sooner than waiting until symptoms appear. If 10,000 babies were screened, pulse oximetry could correctly identify about 5 of the 6 expected asymptomatic cases and might miss one. This international research suggests there would be about 14 false alarms. Waiting until babies are at least 24 hours old minimises the number of these false positives. Babies with critical heart d...
NIHR Signal Balance of long-term benefits and risks of caesarean delivery explained
Caesarean delivery has immediate known benefits and risks for those women who need help in childbirth. This review measures the long-term outcomes for the mothers’ health, the links to a higher risk of childhood illness and the chance of problems with future pregnancies. The large review of 80 studies from high-income countries used data from nearly 30 million women and compared caesarean section with vaginal delivery. Caesarean delivery was associated with a lower risk of urinary inconti...
NIHR Signal Plastic wraps or bags keep pre-term infants warm immediately after birth
Cheap and simple plastic wrapping used in the first 10 minutes after birth helps pre-term and low birth weight infants avoid hypothermia. Infants treated in this way are likely to be warmer when admitted to neonatal intensive care than those treated according to standard care. Pre-term infants are most likely to benefit. Routine infant care usually involves ensuring the delivery room is warm, drying the infant immediately after birth, wrapping the infant in pre-warmed dry blankets and pre-warmi...
NIHR Signal Domperidone increases breast milk production in mothers of premature babies
The drug domperidone increases the amount of breast milk women produce. This review looked at its use for up to two weeks in women with premature babies being fed with expressed milk. Women had a moderate increase in breast milk of about 88ml a day, a clinically important increase for these small babies. Domperidone is an anti-sickness medication. It has not been widely used to increase breast milk because of unknown effectiveness and concerns that it can cause an irregular heart rhythm with lo...
NIHR Signal Imaging is the only way to diagnose blood clots in pregnancy
No blood test can accurately tell if a pregnant or recently pregnant woman has a blood clot. All pregnant women with a suspected clot should continue to have imaging investigations as per current UK guidelines. This NIHR-funded study recruited 328 pregnant or postpartum women with a suspected blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism) or leg (deep vein thrombosis). They had a blood test to measure the levels of 13 biomarkers, such as the D-dimer, to see if they could rule a blood clot in or ou...
NIHR Signal Delayed umbilical cord clamping reduces hospital mortality for preterm infants
Delays to clamping the umbilical cord of about a minute can reduce hospital mortality for preterm infants by around 32%. Delayed clamping also reduced the proportion of infants needing a blood transfusion by 10%. This review adds more precise data on survival from new trials including a large Australian trial (over 1,600 babies) to a previous Cochrane 2012 review of trails including 738 infants and provides new more precise data on the survival benefit. These findings are consistent with curre...
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