Women’s Health and Wellbeing in Five Birth Cohorts from Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Domains and Their Associations with Early-Life Conditions

Background: Women’s health and wellbeing (WHW) have been receiving growing attention, but limited progress has been made on how to measure its different domains in the context of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Methods: We used data from five long-term birth cohorts in Brazil, Guatemala, the Philippines and South Africa to explore different domains of adult WHW, and how these domains relate to early life exposures. We calculated Pearson’s correlation coefficients on eight postulated WHW outcomes to identify possible domains and used principal component analyses (PCA) to derive a single continuous component variable for each domain.

Findings: The PCA based on available adult outcome data led to the identification of three domains: human capital (intelligence, schooling, height, and absence of teen childbearing), metabolic health (body mass index, metabolic syndrome signs) and psychological health (psychological symptoms score and self-reported happiness). The domains were uncorrelated. Only 5·8% of the women were in the upper tercile of all three domains whereas 33·2% were not in the top tercile of any domain. Early determinants (wealth, maternal education, maternal height, water and sanitation, birthweight, length at 2 years and development quotient in mid-childhood) were positively associated with human capital, while birth order was negatively associated. Few associations were found for the metabolic or psychological components. Birthweight and weight at age 2 years was associated with worse metabolic health. Maternal education was associated with improved psychological health.

Interpretation: Our findings indicate that WHW is multidimensional, with most women in the cohorts being compromised in one or more domains while few women scored highly in all three domains. Early life exposures are strongly related to human capital, but not to metabolic or psychological health. Our analyses are limited by lack of data on adolescent exposures and on other relevant WHW dimensions such as safety, agency, empowerment, and violence. Further research is needed in LMICs for identifying and measuring the multiple domains of WHW.

Funding: Wellcome Trust and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – Funding for the research contributing to this paper was provided by the Wellcome Trust (grant # 101815/Z/13/Z). The COHORTS consortium was established through a grant from the Wellcome Trust (# 082554/Z/07/Z) and recent data collection was supported by a grant to Emory University from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (OPP1164115). In addition to the named authors, the COHORTS study team included Fernando Barros, Isabelita Bas, Judith Borja, Delia Carba, Natalia Peixoto Lima, Sara Naicker, Lukhanyo Nyati, Tita Lorna Perez, Jithin Varghese and Fernando Wehrmeister. The sponsors had no role in the analysis and interpretation of the evidence, writing of the paper, or decision to submit for publication.

Declaration of Interest: ADS reports grants from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. ZAB reports grants from the International Development Research Centre (reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health in conflict settings: case studies to inform implementation of interventions) and Countdown to 2030–UNICEF. All other authors declare no competing interests.

Ethics Approval: Ethical approval for data collection and analyses was obtained at each site prior to each wave of data collection. Ethical clearance for the current pooled analyses was granted by the Research Ethics Committee of the School of Medicine, Federal University of Pelotas.

Pregnancy as an opportunity to prevent type 2 diabetes mellitus: FIGO Best Practice Advice

Gestational diabetes (GDM) impacts approximately 17 million pregnancies worldwide. Women with a history of GDM have an 8–10-fold higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and a 2-fold higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared with women without prior GDM. Although it is possible to prevent and/or delay progression of GDM to type 2 diabetes, this is not widely undertaken. Considering the increasing global rates of type 2 diabetes and CVD in women, it is essential to utilize pregnancy as an opportunity to identify women at risk and initiate preventive intervention. This article reviews existing clinical guidelines for postpartum identification and management of women with previous GDM and identifies key recommendations for the prevention and/or delayed progression to type 2 diabetes for global clinical practice.

Early initiation of breastfeeding is inversely associated with public and private c-sections in 73 lower- and middle-income countries

Although studies in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have examined the effects of c-sections on early initiation of breastfeeding (EIBF), the role of the place of birth has not yet been investigated. Therefore, we tested the association between EIBF and the type of delivery by place of birth. Data from 73 nationally representative surveys carried out in LMICs between 2010 and 2019 comprised 408,013 women aged 15 to 49 years. Type of delivery by place of birth was coded in four categories: home vaginal delivery, institutional vaginal delivery, c-section in public, and c-section in private health facilities. We calculated the weighted mean prevalence of place of birth and EIBF by World Bank country income groups. Adjusted Poisson regression (PR) was fitted taking institutional vaginal delivery as a reference. The overall prevalence of EIBF was significantly lower among c-section deliveries in public (PR = 38%; 95% CI 0.618–0.628) and private facilities (PR = 45%; 95% CI 0.54–0.566) compared to institutional vaginal deliveries. EIBF in c-sections in public facilities was slightly higher in lower-middle (PR = 0.650, 95% CI 0.635–0.665) compared to low (PR = 0.544, 95% CI 0.521–0.567) and upper-middle income countries (PR = 0.612, 95% CI 0.599–0.626). EIBF was inversely associated with c-section deliveries compared to institutional vaginal deliveries, especially in private facilities compared to public ones.

Essential maternal health service disruptions in Ethiopia during COVID 19 pandemic: a systematic review

COVID 19 pandemic has challenged the resilience of the most effective health systems in the world. The Ethiopian Ministry of health tried to ensure the continuation of essential maternal health services during the pandemic. Despite several individual studies conducted on the impact of COVID 19 on maternal health services, no evidence can summarize the extent of impact as a nation and which essential maternal health service is most affected.

A systematic review was conducted to summarize the extent of disruption of essential maternal health services and identify the most affected service in the era of the COVID pandemic in Ethiopia. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-analysis guidelines were followed. Comprehensive literature was searched using international databases PubMed, Google scholar, and African Online Journal to retrieve related articles. Descriptive analysis was made to answer the review objective.

Overall, 498 articles were retrieved using our search strategy and finally 8 articles were included in the review. We found, ANC (26.35%), skilled birth attendance (23.46%), PNC (30%), family planning (14%), and abortion care (23.7%) maximum disruption of service utilization due to the pandemic. PNC service was the most significantly affected service unit followed by the ANC unit.

Essential maternal health services have been significantly disrupted due to COVID 19 pandemic in Ethiopia. It is expected from all stakeholders to prioritize safe and accessible maternity care during the pandemic and the aftermath and take lesson to reduce maternal and infant morbidity and mortality.

A global study of the association of cesarean rate and the role of socioeconomic status in neonatal mortality rate in the current century

Caesarean section (C/S) rates have significantly increased across the world over the past decades. In the present population-based study, we sought to evaluate the association between C/S and neonatal mortality rates.

Material and methods
This retrospective ecological study included longitudinal data of 166 countries from 2000 to 2015. We evaluated the association between C/S rates and neonatal mortality rate (NMR), adjusting for total fertility rate, human development index (HDI), gross domestic product (GDP) percentage, and maternal age at first childbearing. The examinations were also performed considering different geographical regions as well as regions with different income levels.

The C/S rate and NMR in the 166 included countries were 19.97% ± 10.56% and 10 ± 10.27 per 1000 live birth, respectively. After adjustment for confounding variables, C/S rate and NMR were found correlated (r = -1.1, p < 0.001). Examination of the relationship between C/S rate and NMR in each WHO region resulted in an inverse correlation in Africa (r = -0.75, p = 0.005), Europe (r = -0.12, p < 0.001), South-East Asia (r = -0.41, p = 0.01), and Western Pacific (r = -0.13, p = 0.02), a direct correlation in America (r = 0.06, p = 0.04), and no correlation in Eastern Mediterranean (r = 0.01, p = 0.88). Meanwhile, C/S rate and NMR were inversely associated in regions with upper-middle (r = -0.15, p < 0.001) and lower-middle (r = -0.24, p < 0.001) income levels, directly associated in high-income regions (r = 0.02, p = 0.001), and not associated in low-income regions (p = 0.13). In countries with HDI below the centralized value of 1 (the real value of 0.9), the correlation between C/S rate and NMR was negative while it was found positive in countries with HDI higher than the mentioned cut-off.

This study indicated that NMR associated with C/S is dependent on various socioeconomic factors such as total fertility rate, HDI, GDP percentage, and maternal age at first childbearing. Further attentions to the socioeconomic status are warranted to minimize the NMR by modifying the C/S rate to the optimum cut-off.

The Risk Factors and Incidence of Perineal Tears among Pregnant Women

Aim: To determine the risk factors and prevalence of perineal tear in low-risk pregnant females.

Study Design: A retrospective cross-sectional study.

Place and Duration: In the Obstetrics and Gynecology department of Khawaja Muhammad Safdar Medical College, Allama Iqbal Memorial Teaching Hospital Sialkot for one-year duration from January 2020 to December 2020.

Methods: The females with perineal tear after birth included in this study. A total of 400 females were selected for this study. Results are articulated as adjusted odds ratio (OR) and ​​<0.05 of P value is considered significant.

Results: 400 total females had singleton vaginal delivery and perineal tears were noticed in 140 females. The episiotomy frequency for the total of 1st and 2nd degree, and 3rd and 4th degree (OASI) were 16.3%, 25%, and 1.5%, correspondingly. The perineal tear risk-factors are young mothers (teenagers OR = 5.6, 21-25 years OR = 4.3), primiparous women (OR = 12.6), gestational age less than 32 weeks OR = 0.175), received antenatal care (OR = 0.42), correspondingly. Primiparous females were 12.4 times more probable to have an episiotomy (OR = 12.4, 95% CI, 1.48-104.8, p = 0.02). A birth weight between 2.5-3.0 kgs and less than 2.5 kg (OR = 0.012 and 0.084, respectively) protects against Obstetric Anal Sphincter Injury.

Conclusions: The perineal injuries risk factors are comparable to those formerly described in other researches. There is an urgent need to train the gynae staff and doctors in proper selection for episiotomy and better perineal care in order to improve obstetric services in the Gynecology department. Identifying those at danger can decrease obstetric perineal injuries.

Admission Criteria of Obstetric Patients in Selected Intensive Care Units, Khartoum State, Sudan (2022)

The Obstetric admissions to the intensive care unit (ICU) require special care and attention by a multidisciplinary team. Pregnancy is associated with many maternal physiological and organ changes. These changes are primarily due to production of progesterone by the corpus luteum in early pregnancy and the placenta from ten weeks. They are admitted to the ICU for close observation to detect the problems earlier, perform invasive monitoring, increase nursing care or ventilatory support or any intervention that is not available at the wards. The aim of this study was to identify the admission criteria of obstetric patients. A retrospective study was conducted in maternal hospitals, from January to December 2021.70 patients with inclusion criteria were included. The results revealed that most of the patients diagnosed with Preeclampsia25.7%, eclampsia 22.9%, not applicable for the scoring system. Data was collected using a questionnaire filled by researchers from patients’files. The study found that most common cases were admitted to ICU with pre-eclampsia, eclampsia and postpartum hemorrhage, the antenatal care was low, that wasn’t applicable to scoring systems at admission and most patients did not need invasive procedures or mechanical ventilation.

Directly observed and reported respectful maternity care received during childbirth in public health facilities, Ibadan Metropolis, Nigeria

Respectful maternity care (RMC) is believed to improve women’s childbirth experience and increase health facility delivery. Unfortunately, few women in low- and middle-income countries experience RMC. Patient surveys and independent observations have been used to evaluate RMC, though seldom together. In this study, we assessed RMC received by women using two methodologies and evaluated the associated factors of RMC received. This was a cross-sectional study conducted in nine public health facilities in Ibadan, a large metropolis in Nigeria. We selected 269 pregnant women by cluster sampling. External clinical observers observed them during childbirth using the 29-item Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program RMC observational checklist. The same women were interviewed postpartum using the 15-item RMC scale for self-reported RMC. We analysed total RMC scores and RMC sub-category scores for each tool. All scores were converted to a percentage of the maximum possible to facilitate comparison. Correlation and agreement between the observed and reported RMC scores were determined using Pearson’s correlation and Bland-Altman analysis respectively. Multiple linear regression was used to identify factors associated with observed RMC. No woman received 100% of the observed RMC items. Self-reported RMC scores were much higher than those observed. The two measures were weakly positively correlated (rho = 0.164, 95%CI: 0.045–0.278, p = 0.007), but had poor agreement. The lowest scoring sub-categories of observed RMC were information and consent (14.0%), then privacy (28.0%). Twenty-eight percent of women (95%CI: 23.0% -33.0%) were observed to be hit during labour and only 8.2% (95%CI: 4.0%-18.0%) received pain relief. Equitable care was the highest sub-category for both observed and reported RMC. Being employed and having completed post-secondary education were significantly associated with higher observed RMC scores. There were also significant facility differences in observed RMC. In conclusion, the women reported higher levels of RMC than were observed indicating that these two methodologies to evaluate RMC give very different results. More consensus and standardisation are required in determining the cut-offs to quantify the proportion of women receiving RMC. The low levels of RMC observed in the study require attention, and it is important to ensure that women are treated equitably, irrespective of personal characteristics or facility context.

Abortion decision-making process trajectories and determinants in low- and middle-income countries: A mixed-methods systematic review and meta-analysis

About 45.1% of all induced abortions are unsafe and 97% of these occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Women’s abortion decisions may be complex and are influenced by various factors. We aimed to delineate women’s abortion decision-making trajectories and their determinants in LMICs.

We searched Medline, EMBASE, PsychInfo, Global Health, Web of Science, Scopus, IBSS, CINAHL, WHO Global Index Medicus, the Cochrane Library, WHO website, ProQuest, and Google Scholar for primary studies and reports published between January 1, 2000, and February 16, 2021 (updated on June 06, 2022), on induced abortion decision-making trajectories and/or their determinants in LMICs. We excluded studies on spontaneous abortion. Two independent reviewers extracted and assessed quality of each paper. We used “best fit” framework synthesis to synthesise abortion decision-making trajectories and thematic synthesis to synthesise their determinants. We analysed quantitative findings using random effects model. The study protocol is registered with PROSPERO number CRD42021224719.

Of the 6960 articles identified, we included 79 in the systematic review and 14 in the meta-analysis. We identified nine abortion decision-making trajectories: pregnancy awareness, self-reflection, initial abortion decision, disclosure and seeking support, negotiations, final decision, access and information, abortion procedure, and post-abortion experience and care. Determinants of trajectories included three major themes of autonomy in decision-making, access and choice. A meta-analysis of data from 7737 women showed that the proportion of the overall women’s involvement in abortion decision-making was 0.86 (95% CI:0.73–0.95, I2 = 99.5%) and overall partner involvement was 0.48 (95% CI:0.29–0.68, I2 = 99.6%).

Policies and strategies should address women’s perceptions of safe abortion socially, legally, and economically, and where appropriate, involvement of male partners in abortion decision-making processes to facilitate safe abortion. Clinical heterogeneity, in which various studies defined “the final decision-maker” differentially, was a limitation of our study.

Nuffield Department of Population Health DPhil Scholarship for PL, University of Oxford, and the Medical Research Council Career Development Award for MN (Grant Ref: MR/P022030/1).

A Novel Approach in Management of Placenta Accreta Spectrum Disorders: A Single-Center Surgical Experience From Vietnam

Background: Placenta accreta spectrum disorder (PASD) is the leading cause which results in highly maternal mortality during pregnancy. Although hysterectomy has been the gold standard for PASD, recent data, together with our experience, suggest that conservative management might be better; and thus, we here attempted to determine this.

Methods: A retrospective observational study enrolled 65 patients at the Tu Du Hospital in Vietnam between January 2017 and December 2018. This study included all pregnant women above 28 weeks of gestational age, who had undergone cesarean delivery due to PASD diagnosed preoperatively by ultrasound or upon laparotomy. Additionally, all patients who desired uterine preservation underwent uterine conservative surgery, avoiding hysterectomy.

Results: Overall, the rate of successful preservation was 93.8%. Other main parameters evaluated included average operative blood loss of 987 mL, mean blood transfusion of 831 ± 672 mL; mean operative time of 135 ± 31 min, and average postoperative time of 5.79 days. Postoperative complications happened in six out of 65 cases due to intraoperative bleeding and postoperative infection, requiring peripartum hysterectomy in four patients.

Conclusions: Uterine conservative surgery was associated with less operative blood loss and blood transfusion amount. Its success rate of preservative method was approximately 94% in our study. Thus, this method can be acceptable in PASD management. Further studies might be necessary to evaluate the long-term effects of this method in PASD management