Prevalence and Pattern of Congenital Malformations among Neonates in the Neonatal Unit of a Tertiary Care Hospital

Background and Aim: Globally, congenital anomalies (CA) are a major contributing factor for neonate’s admission in NICU causing neonatal morbidity and mortality particularly in developing countries. Congenital anomalies generally indicate the morphogenesis defect in an early neonate’s life. The leading cause for perinatal mortality is congenital anomalies that arise with advancement of delivery and care for newborn babies. The present study aimed to evaluate the prevalence and pattern of congenital anomalies among neonates admitted to neonatal unit.

Methodology: This retrospective study was carried out on 1620 neonates (newborns to age 28 days) admitted to the neonatal unit of Services Hospital, Lahore from April 2020 to March 2022. The incidence, risk factors, and pattern of congenital anomalies were measured. Detailed examinations such as radiological, laboratory, ultrasonography, and echocardiography were recorded. Different outcomes such as hospital stay, morbidity, and mortality were determined with 95% confidence intervals. SPSS version 25 was used for data analysis.

Results: Of the total 1620 admitted neonates, the prevalence of neonates with congenital anomalies were 112 (6.9%). Out of 112 neonates diagnosed with congenital anomalies, 64 (57.1%) were male and 48 (42.9%) were females. The incidence of cesarean and other modes of delivery were 74 (66%) and 38 (34%) respectively. Cardiovascular system malformation was the most prevalent affected system in 36 (31.9%) neonates followed by central nerve system 28 (25%), genitourinary system 19 (17%), musculoskeletal system 16 (14.3%), gastrointestinal tract 6 (5.4%), digestive system 4 (3.6%), and syndromes and skin 3 (2.7%). Congenital anomalies were significantly increasing over time. The incidence of discharged, referred to higher centers for intervention, and expired babies were 77 (68.8%), 19 (16.7%), and 16 (14.3%) respectively.

Conclusion: The present study found that the prevalence of congenital anomalies was 6.9%. Cardiovascular system malformation was the most prevalent congenital anomaly followed by the central nerve system. The overall mortality rate was 14.3% caused by congenital anomalies. A better health care strategies and management must be developed in terms of early detection, supplementation facilitation, decreasing drug usage, and better antenatal care to prevent the impacts of congenital anomalies on neonates.

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.

The causes of preterm neonatal deaths in India and Pakistan (PURPOSe): a prospective cohort study

Preterm birth remains the major cause of neonatal death worldwide. South Asia contributes disproportionately to deaths among preterm births worldwide, yet few population-based studies have assessed the underlying causes of deaths. Novel evaluations, including histological and bacteriological assessments of placental and fetal tissues, facilitate more precise determination of the underlying causes of preterm deaths. We sought to assess underlying and contributing causes of preterm neonatal deaths in India and Pakistan.

The project to understand and research preterm pregnancy outcomes and stillbirths in South Asia (PURPOSe) was a prospective cohort study done in three hospitals in Davangere, India, and two hospitals in Karachi, Pakistan. All pregnant females older than 14 years were screened at the time of presentation for delivery, and those with an expected or known preterm birth, defined as less than 37 weeks of gestation, were enrolled. Liveborn neonates with a weight of 1000 g or more who died by 28 days after birth were included in analyses. Placentas were collected and histologically evaluated. In addition, among all neonatal deaths, with consent, minimally invasive tissue sampling was performed for histological analyses. PCR testing was performed to assess microbial pathogens in the placental, blood, and fetal tissues collected. An independent panel reviewed available data, including clinical description of the case and all clinical maternal, fetal, and placental findings, and results of PCR bacteriological investigation and minimally invasive tissue sampling histology, from all eligible preterm neonates to determine the primary and contributing maternal, placental, and neonatal causes of death.

Between July 1, 2018, and March 26, 2020, of the 3470 preterm neonates enrolled, 804 (23%) died by 28 days after birth, and, of those, 615 were eligible and had their cases reviewed by the panel. Primary maternal causes of neonatal death were hypertensive disease (204 [33%] of 615 cases), followed by maternal complication of pregnancy (76 [12%]) and preterm labour (76 [11%]), whereas the primary placental causes were maternal and fetal vascular malperfusion (172 [28%] of 615) and chorioamnionitis, funisitis, or both (149 [26%]). The primary neonatal cause of death was intrauterine hypoxia (212 [34%] of 615) followed by congenital infections (126 [20%]), neonatal infections (122 [20%]), and respiratory distress syndrome (126 [20%]).

In south Asia, intrauterine hypoxia and congenital infections were the major causes of neonatal death among preterm babies. Maternal hypertensive disorders and placental disorders, especially maternal and fetal vascular malperfusion and placental abruption, substantially contributed to these deaths.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Role of Primary Caregivers Regarding Unintentional Injury Prevention Among Preschool Children: A Cross-Sectional Survey in Low- and Middle-Income Country

Unintentional childhood injuries significantly strain healthcare resources, and their preventable measures can significantly reduce morbidity and mortality.

To investigate the role of primary caregivers in preventing unintentional injuries and to identify the groups that require special health intervention programs to reduce the burden of this public health concern.

A cross-sectional survey was conducted at three hospitals in Karachi, Pakistan. Parents of preschool children who visited pediatric clinics were invited to participate in the study by completing a self-administered questionnaire comprising questions about knowledge, attitudes, and practices towards preventing unintentional injuries among children.

With an 80% response rate, the overall mean knowledge, attitude, and practices (KAP) score was 27.40 ± 3.48. Only 14.3% of the participants had a high KAP score, while 83.6% and 2.1% of the respondents had moderate and low KAP scores, respectively. People of lower socioeconomic status, unemployed, less educated, and families with more than one preschool child were less knowledgeable and non-adherent to unintentional preventive injury. It was found that 21% of the children had suffered from an unintentional severe injury in the past, and the internet was the most frequent source of gaining knowledge among parents.

Parental knowledge, attitude, practices, and adherence to child safety measures are sub-optimal in our cohort of studied participants. Raising awareness and providing the counseling are essential in reducing the burden of unintentional injuries.

Digital health and telemedicine in Pakistan: Improving maternal healthcare

Pakistan has not benefited significantly from telemedicine, despite the promise that it could overcome many of the barriers impeding maternal healthcare delivery in emerging markets. Due to a lack of a regulatory framework and a lack of government interest, new companies in Pakistan have a hard time establishing healthcare projects that will be cost-effective and innovative. A review of telemedicine adoption in the past and present for improving maternal healthcare standards is presented in this article. Furthermore, a discussion of the challenges associated with digital health adoption is provided, as well as possible and feasible policies for making the use of digital health in maternal health more effective.

Breast cancer in a teenage girl with BRCA mutation: A case report from a low middle-income country

A staggering majority of pediatric breast masses are benign (mostly fibroadenoma) and so a biopsy is not readily performed as it can potentially lead to a future breast disfigurement. However, this should not be standard practice as this can lead to a delayed diagnosis, and hence, the treatment of pediatric breast cancer (BC); this was also seen in our patient’s scenario.

Case history
Here, we report the case of the youngest known breast cancer patient in Pakistan, a 15-year-old girl. The right-sided breast lump which was diagnosed clinically as a fibroadenoma later turned out to be stage IIb pT3N0M0 metaplastic breast carcinoma with BRCA1 positivity and mutations in SMARCA4. Being young and unmarried, the patient and her family decided to opt for breast-conserving surgery with high-risk surveillance for breast and ovaries.

We believe that prophylactic surgeries can be delayed with strict surveillance and thorough counseling. As pediatric BC is linked to a less favorable prognosis, every young patient diagnosed with breast cancer and their family should undergo genetic testing. BC management should be handled by specialists in the field and doctors should be trained for initial diagnostics and timely referral of patients.

It is important to improve our understanding of genetic predisposition and testing in lower-middle-income countries. Considering the changing global trends, we suggest that the utilization of genetic services is direly needed to improve preventative care for at-risk individuals with breast and other cancers.

The Impact of Delayed Surgical Care on Patient Outcomes With Alimentary Tract Perforation: Insight From a Low-Middle Income Country

In-patient delay is associated with increased mortality in patients with alimentary tract perforations. Access to surgical care is a glaring health issue in low-middle income countries (LMICs), where patient presentation is also delayed for a myriad of reasons, which can be broadly categorized as social/cultural, financial, and structural in their nature. The impact these delays have on surgical outcomes in low-middle income countries is not known.

A retrospective cohort study of patients who underwent emergency laparotomy for alimentary tract perforation from July 2015 to June 2018 was conducted at a tertiary care hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. Time was recorded in two variables: symptom onset to emergency room presentation (ERT) and emergency room to operation room time (ORT).

Overall, 80 patients were included in the study. The 12 (15%) patients who expired were significantly older (57 ± 17.7 years of age), had a higher Charlson Comorbidity Index and had longer ORT [median ORT in hours-discharged vs expired: 8.2 (IQR 5-15) vs 16 (IQR 12-28) p=0.02]. ERT was also longer but lacked statistical significance [median ERT in hours-discharged vs expired: 24 (IQR 22-72) vs 48 (IQR 24-120) p=0.19]. Multivariable logistic regression analysis revealed ORT to be significantly associated with mortality [odds ratio (OR): 1.02, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.003-1.041; p=0.02]. Adjusted Cox regression analysis showed that each hour of ORT increased the risk of mortality by 1.5% [hazard ratio (HR) 1.015, 95% CI 1.001-1.030].

Inpatient delays increased the risk of mortality for patients undergoing emergency laparotomy for alimentary tract perforation. Larger sample sizes and prospective studies are needed to better understand this relationship and the impact pre-hospital delays have on outcomes.

Mortality Rate in Pakistan – among Low and Middle-Income Countries

Age-specific and sex-specific cause of death determination is becoming very important task particularly for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Therefore, consistent openly accessible information with reproducibility may have significant role in regulating the major causes of mortality both in premature child and adults. The United Nations (UN) reported that 86% deaths (48 million deaths) out of 56 million globally deaths occurred in the LMICs in 2010. The major dilemma is that most of the deaths do not have a diagnosis of COD in such countries. Despite of the allocation of a large portion of resources to decrease the devastating impacts of chronic illnesses, their prevalence as well as the health and economic consequences remains staggeringly high. There are multiple levels of interventions that can help in bringing about significant and promising improvements in the healthcare system. Currently, Pakistan is facing double burden of malnutrition with record high prevalence rates of chronic diseases. Pakistan spends only a marginal of its GDP (1.2%) versus the recommended 5% by World Health Organization. On average, there are eight hospitals per district, with people load per hospital being 165512.452 and poor data management in the country, and we lack a consistent local registry on all-cause of mortality. This article was planned to compile the data related to major causes and disease specific mortality rates for Pakistan and link these factors to the social-economic determinants of health.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Psychological Well-Being of Surgeons in Pakistan: A Multicenter Cross-Sectional Study

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic left a profound and pervasive impact on the healthcare infrastructure on a global scale. Since its onset, the pattern of reported cases and its associated mortality had shown variability with intermittent peaks causing a significant effect on the psychological well-being of the surgeons of Pakistan. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental well-being of surgeons in Pakistan.

This multicenter cross-sectional study was carried out to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the psychological well-being of surgeons in Pakistan. The validated Self-Reporting Questionnaire-20 (SRQ-20) tool was circulated electronically via Google Forms (Google, Inc., Mountain View, CA, USA) in the practicing surgical fraternity across all five regions of Pakistan, i.e., Sindh, Punjab, Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

This study showed that the female gender, having fewer years of working experience, non-satisfaction with the available personal protective equipment (PPE), and working in the public sector were the factors affecting the psychological well-being of surgeons during the pandemic.

Considering the continuous rise in new cases during the ongoing pandemic, the mental health of surgeons working in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) such as Pakistan has been significantly affected. There is an undeniable need to pay close attention to their psychological well-being. Measures need to be undertaken to ensure their physical and mental health and wellness.

A retrospective analysis of peri-operative medication errors from a low-middle income country

Identifying medication errors is one method of improving patient safety. Peri operative anesthetic management of patient includes polypharmacy and the steps followed prior to drug administration. Our objective was to identify, extract and analyze the medication errors (MEs) reported in our critical incident reporting system (CIRS) database over the last 15 years (2004–2018) and to review measures taken for improvement based on the reported errors. CIRS reported from 2004 to 2018 were identified, extracted, and analyzed using descriptive statistics and presented as frequencies and percentages. MEs were identified and entered on a data extraction form which included reporting year, patients age, surgical specialty, American Society of Anesthesiologist (ASA) status, time of incident, phase and type of anesthesia and drug handling, type of error, class of medicine, level of harm, severity of adverse drug event (ADE) and steps taken for improvement. Total MEs reported were 311, medication errors were reported, 163 (52%) errors occurred in ASA II and 90 (29%) ASA III patient, and 133 (43%) during induction. During administration phase 60% MEs occurred and 65% were due to human error. ADEs were found in 86 (28%) reports, 58 of which were significant, 23 serious and five life-threatening errors. The majority of errors involved neuromuscular blockers (32%) and opioids (13%). Sharing of CI and a lesson to be learnt e-mail, colour coded labels, change in medication trolley lay out, decrease in floor stock and high alert labels were the low-cost steps taken to reduce incidents. Medication errors were more frequent during administration. ADEs were occurred in 28% MEs.