The latest medical research on Obstetric Anesthesiology
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Reduction in preterm birth rates during and after the COVID-19 lockdown in Queensland Australia.Australian and New Zealand Journal
Preventative strategies for preterm birth are lacking. Recent evidence proposed COVID-19 lockdowns may have contributed to changes in preterm birth.
To determine the prevalence of preterm birth and birth outcomes during and after the COVID-19 lockdown at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and the overall state of Queensland, Australia.
Retrospective cohort analysis of all births in Queensland including the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, during two epochs, April 1-May 31, 2020 (lockdown) and June 1-July 31, 2020 (post-lockdown), compared to antecedent calendar-matched periods in 2018-2019. Prevalence of preterm birth, stillbirth, and late terminations were examined.
There were 64 989 births in Queensland from April to July 2018-2020. At the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, there was a significantly higher chance of birth at term during both lockdown (odds ratio (OR) 1.81, 95% CI 1.17, 2.79; P = 0.007) and post-lockdown (OR 2.01, 95% CI 1.27, 3.18; P = 0.003). At the same centre, prevalence of preterm birth was 5.5% (30/547) during lockdown, compared to 9.1% (100/1095) in previous years, a 40.0% relative reduction (P = 0.016). At this centre during lockdown, emergency caesareans concurrently decreased (P < 0.01) and instrumental vaginal births increased (P < 0.01). In Queensland overall, there was a nonsignificant decrease in the prevalence of preterm birth during lockdown.
There is a link between lockdown and a reduction in the prevalence of preterm birth on the Sunshine Coast. The cause is speculative at present, although increased influenza vaccination rates, decreased transmission of infections, and improved air quality may have been favourable in reducing preterm birth. Further research is needed to determine a causal link.
Birth outcomes by type of attendance at antenatal education: An observational study.Australian and New Zealand Journal
Antenatal education aims to prepare expectant parents for pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Studies have reported antenatal education teaching breathing and relaxation methods for pain relief, termed psychoprophylaxis, is associated with reduction in caesarean section rates compared with general birth and parenting classes. Given the rising rates of caesarean section, we aimed to determine whether there was a difference in mode of birth in women based on the type of antenatal education attended.
A cross-sectional antenatal survey of nulliparous women ≥28 weeks gestation with a singleton pregnancy was conducted in two maternity hospitals in Sydney, Australia in 2018. Women were asked what type of antenatal education they attended and sent a follow-up survey post-birth. Hospital birth data were also obtained. Education was classified into four groups: psychoprophylaxis, birth and parenting, other, or none.
Five hundred and five women with birth data were included. A higher proportion of women who attended psychoprophylaxis education had a vaginal birth (instrumental/spontaneous) (79%) compared with women who attended birth and parenting, other or no education (69%, 67%, 60%, respectively P = 0.045). After adjusting for maternal characteristics, birth and hospital factors, the association was attenuated (odds ratio 2.03; 95% CI 0.93-4.43).
Women who attended psychoprophylaxis couple-based education had a trend toward higher rates of vaginal birth. Randomised trials comparing different types of antenatal education are required to determine whether psychoprophylaxis education can reduce caesarean section rates and improve other birth outcomes.
Clinician views and experiences of non-invasive prenatal genetic screening tests in Australia.Australian and New Zealand Journal
Non-invasive prenatal screening (NIPS) is being increasingly used by expectant parents. Much provision of this test in Australia is occurring in clinical settings where specialised genetic counselling is unavailable, such as general practice. Potential psychosocial consequences from this kind of prenatal genetic screening remain largely unexplored.
To explore clinicians' experiences with NIPS for aneuploidy, their perspectives of the benefits and harms of NIPS, clinicians' information needs, and their perceptions of the needs of expectant parents.
Qualitative, semi-structured interviews with 17 health professionals (clinical geneticists, obstetricians, genetic counsellors and general practitioners) who request and counsel for NIPS in Australian hospital and private practice settings, conducted between June 2019 and February 2020.
Five themes were identified relating to clinicians' perceptions and experiences of NIPS in their practice: perceived benefits of NIPS, perceived harms of NIPS (with two subthemes: clinical harms and psychosocial harms), financial and equity-related concerns, counselling as a protective buffer against perceived harms, and clinicians' unmet education needs. While clinicians view NIPS as a useful and high-quality screening test, especially for detection of common trisomies, many participants had concerns about how NIPS has been implemented in practice, particularly the quality (and often absence) of pre-/post-test counselling and the routinisation of testing for sex chromosome aneuploidies, microdeletion and microduplication syndromes.
These findings support the need for targeted clinician training around NIPS, and for a shared decision-making approach to support expectant parents' autonomous decisions about NIPS.
The role of Australian clinical quality registries in pregnancy care: A scoping review.Australian and New Zealand Journal
Pregnancy represents a time of increased morbidity and mortality for women and their infants. Clinical quality registries (CQRs) collect, analyse and report key healthcare quality indicators for patient cohorts to improve patient care. There are limited data regarding existing CQRs in pregnancy. This scoping review aimed to: (1) identify Australian CQRs specific to pregnancy care and describe their general characteristics; and (2) outline their aims and measured outcomes METHODS: The scoping review was undertaken according to Joanna Briggs Institute guidelines. CQRs were identified using a systematic approach from publications (Ovid MEDLINE, PubMed, Google Scholar), peer consultation, the Australian register of clinical registries and web searches. Details surrounding general characteristics, aims and outcomes were collated.
We identified two primary sources of information about pregnancy care. (1) Six CQRs are specific to pregnancy (Australia and New Zealand twin-twin transfusion syndrome registry, Australian Pregnancy Register for women with epilepsy and those taking anti-epileptic drugs, National Register of Antipsychotic Medication in Pregnancy, Australasian Maternity Outcomes Surveillance System, Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopaenia Registry and the Diabetes in Pregnancy clinical register). (2) Fourteen observational cohort studies were facilitated by non-pregnancy-specific CQRs where a subsection of patients underwent pregnancy.
Australian CQRs currently report varied information regarding some selected conditions during pregnancy and offer therapeutic and epidemiological insight into their care. Further research into their effectiveness is warranted. We note the lack of a CQR spanning the common problems of pregnancy in general, where significant health, service and economic gains are possible.
Effectiveness of alternative prenatal genetic counselling methods in a cohort of pregnant women from a low socio-economic population.Australian and New Zealand Journal
There are concerns about the capacity of healthcare providers to adequately counsel women on the implications of noninvasive prenatal screening (NIPS). Studies suggest that more resource-efficient counselling methods are needed for broad adoption.
We prospectively examined the effectiveness of alternative methods of prenatal counselling on a patient's knowledge and understanding of prenatal testing choices, with a focus on NIPS. We also evaluated prenatal test choice and emotional well-being after making this decision.
Women from a low socio-economic population were offered NIPS at no additional cost along with typical prenatal screening and diagnosis. Study participants underwent prenatal counselling via a web-based video consultation or a telephone consultation with a genetic counsellor. Participants were asked to complete pre-counselling and post-counselling questionnaires.
Of 1000 women enrolled, 600 completed both surveys in full and were included in the analysis. Of these, 354 (59%) underwent counselling via a telephone consultation and 246 (41%) via the web-based video consultation. Both counselling methods led to a significant increase in patient knowledge (P < 0.01). NIPS uptake was equivalent between groups. Patients expressed a high level (90%) of satisfaction with their prenatal screen choice, with no significant difference (P > 0.10) between telephone and web participants.
Alternative methods of counselling such as a web-based education portal can be highly effective and should be considered to enable informed decision-making prior to undergoing prenatal screening such as NIPS. Further, web-based education tools could be beneficial for those in rural areas with limited access to healthcare providers and non-native speakers.
Test-enhanced learning improves learner attendance during a laparoscopic box trainer simulation program.Australian and New Zealand Journal
Laparoscopy is the gold standard approach for many surgical procedures, but it is a complex skill to learn. Laparoscopic simulation training may help, but it is unclear how to best engage trainees in these programs. Test-enhanced learning (TEL) uses regular, well-defined assessments of performance throughout the training phase of learning.
The aim of this study was to assess the effects of TEL on a laparoscopic simulation program involving a cohort of medical student volunteers.
A prospective cohort study was performed with a convenience sample of 40 medical students. Students were recruited to participate in a ten-week laparoscopic simulation program. Twenty students participated in a laparoscopic surgical program with TEL ('TEL group'), and 20 students participated in a standard laparoscopic simulation program ('control group').
Attendance in the TEL group was significantly higher than in the standard group (71 vs 51.5%, P = 0.03). There was no difference between groups in mean time scores. Four themes were identified in qualitative data drawn from student surveys - personal traits and motivators, training context, clear goals and feedback enabling understanding of one's own performance.
Testing laparoscopic skills throughout a learning program, in conjunction with individualised feedback and tracking of learning trajectory, increases trainee attendance. Laparoscopic simulation training programs are encouraged to reflect on the pedagogic framework in which their procedural skills training operates.
A review of gynaecological surgical practices for trainees and certified specialists in Australia by volume using MBS and AIHW databases.Australian and New Zealand Journal
There is a finite volume of surgery performed annually by trainees and certified specialists alike. The detailed assessment of this surgical substrate is important, since it guides true exposure in gynaecological surgical training and practice after fellowship.
This study quantifies the volume and profile of major gynaecological surgical procedures performed in Australia within a specified five-year period and discusses the implications for training and practice.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data were examined to quantify the total number of major gynaecological procedures performed between 2013 and 2018. Medicare data were analysed to quantify the number of billed procedures. These data were compared with published Australian RANZCOG trainees and operative gynaecologists, to estimate the potential annual average exposure for each procedure.
Major open, laparoscopic and vaginal surgeries constitute less than 27% of the 600 000 gynaecological procedures performed annually in Australia. Most major gynaecological surgeries are performed at rates lower than 12 cases per year for both trainees and specialists. Over the study period, laparotomies, vaginal hysterectomies and continence procedures decreased, and operative laparoscopies and laparoscopic hysterectomies increased.
The volume of available major gynaecological procedures in Australia may not allow sufficient exposure for optimal training and practice for all trainees and specialists in operative gynaecology. This shortfall may compromise the ability to obtain and maintain proficiency in some core gynaecological operative procedures.
Outcomes and success of new tiered perinatal transfer policy within a tertiary level obstetric unit in Australia.Australian and New Zealand Journal
New South Wales Health introduced the new Tiered Networking Arrangements for Perinatal Care in New South Wales policy directive (TPN Policy), which defined key performance and quality indicators after implementation.
This study aims to assess the success of the TPN Policy implementation in the Western Sydney TPN in accordance with key performance indicators.
This is a retrospective cohort study of acute perinatal transfers within the Western Sydney TPN between 1 December 2019 to 31 December 2020. The primary outcome is compliance with objectives of the TPN Policy, as measured as an Aggregate Compliance Score comprising the five measures. Secondary outcomes include clinical, neonatal and logistics outcomes.
There were 181 acute perinatal transfers within, into or out of the Western Sydney TPN between 1 December 2019 to 31 December 2020. There were 122 transfers within the network, 40 into the TPN and 19 were out of the TPN. All groups were at least partially compliant with the TPN Policy. No transfers in any of groups scored below three ('partially compliant'). A quarter of transfers gave birth within 24 h of transfer. Over half of those who were transferred and admitted went on to give birth prior to discharge or transfer.
Overall, the TPN Policy met its objectives after implementation in the Western Sydney TPN, while maintaining appropriate neonatal outcomes. All women arrived at an appropriate facility prior to giving birth, although the majority did not give birth within 24 h. Neonatal intensive care unit bed availability is a key limitation to future improvement.
COVID-19 vaccination rates in an antenatal population: A survey of women's perceptions, factors influencing vaccine uptake and potential contributors to vaccine hesitancy.Australian and New Zealand Journal
Pregnant women are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 and are a priority group for vaccination. The discrepancy in vaccination rates between pregnant and non-pregnant cohorts is concerning.
This study aimed to assess the perceptions and intentions of pregnant women toward COVID-19 vaccination and explored vaccine uptake and reasons for vaccine hesitancy.
A cross-sectional exploratory design was performed evaluating pregnant women receiving care in two metropolitan maternity units in Western Australia. The main measurable outcomes included vaccination status, intention to be vaccinated, and reasons for delaying or declining vaccination.
In total, 218 women participated. Of these, 122 (56%) had not received either dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Sixty (28%) claimed that vaccination was not discussed with them and 33 (15%) reported being dissuaded from vaccination by a healthcare practitioner. Compared to vaccinated women, those who had not accepted vaccination were less likely to have had vaccination discussed by maternity staff, less aware that pregnant women are a priority group, and less aware that pregnancy increased the risk of severe illness. Unvaccinated women were concerned about the side effects of the vaccine for their newborn and their own health, felt there was inadequate information on safety during pregnancy, and felt that a lack of community transmission in Western Australia reduced the necessity to be vaccinated.
Vaccine delay and hesitancy is common among pregnant women in Western Australia. Education of healthcare professionals and pregnant women on the recommendation for COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy is required.
Patient acceptability, continuation and complication rates with immediate postpartum levonorgestrel intrauterine device insertion at caesarean section and vaginal birth.Australian and New Zealand Journal
Immediate postpartum long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) has been shown to reduce unintended pregnancy but uptake of this type of contraception in Australia is low compared to European counterparts.
To assess self-reported continuation rates, complications and satisfaction in patients having immediate postpartum hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) inserted at caesarean section (CS) or after vaginal birth (VB).
Retrospective cohort study of all patients with immediate postpartum hormonal IUD insertion over three years at a tertiary maternity service. Primary outcomes were patient satisfaction, continuation and expulsion rates. Secondary outcomes were reason for discontinuation, patient-reported complications, attendance for postpartum check with a general practitioner (GP) and rate of unplanned pregnancy. Simple descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data.
One hundred and ninety-three women had a hormonal IUD inserted and 143 consented to involvement (CS n = 79; VB n = 64). Six and 12 months continuation rates for CS were 60.8% and 54.4%, and VB were 46.9% and 39.1%. The most common reasons for removal were: pain (34.5%), heavy or irregular bleeding (25.9%) and partial expulsion (24.1%). Expulsion was more likely after VB (34.1%) than CS (10.1%), (odds ratio 2.72; 95% CI 1.07-6.90; P = 0.036). There were 60.8% of women post-CS and 56.3% of women post-VB who were satisfied with their decision to have immediate postpartum insertion and most women attended routine postpartum follow-up with their GP (89.5%).
Immediate postpartum hormonal IUD insertion in this cohort is associated with higher rates of expulsion and lower satisfaction rates compared to those documented in the literature for delayed postpartum insertion cohorts.
Association between screening for antenatal depressive symptoms and delivery outcomes: The Born in Queensland Study.Australian and New Zealand Journal
Evidence shows that depressive symptoms during pregnancy increase the risk of an intervention during delivery (induction, the use of forceps or vacuum, and caesarean sections (CS)). Many women with depression during pregnancy are not identified and therefore will not receive appropriate follow up of their symptoms. We hypothesised that routine screening for depressive symptoms during pregnancy could reduce detrimental consequences of depressive symptoms on delivery outcomes.
We explored the association between screening for depressive symptoms during pregnancy and delivery outcomes.
A cross-sectional analysis of state-wide administrative data sets. The population included all women who delivered a singleton in Queensland between the July and December of 2015. Logistic regression analyses were run in 27 501 women (93.1% of the total population) with information in all variables. The following were the main outcomes: onset of labour, CS, instrumental vaginal delivery, and all operative deliveries (including both CS and instrumental vaginal deliveries).
Women who completed the screening had increased odds of a spontaneous onset of labour (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.18; 95% CI 1.09-1.27) and decreased odds of an operative delivery (instrumental or CS) (aOR 0.88; 95% CI 0.81-0.96). Among women who had a vaginal delivery, those who completed the screening had decreased odds of having an instrumental delivery (aOR 0.84; 95% CI 0.74-0.97). Sensitivity analyses in women who did not have a formal diagnosis of depression showed similar results.
Our findings suggest that screening may decrease interventions during delivery in women with depressive symptoms.
A cross-sectional survey of Australian healthcare professionals' confidence, evidence-based knowledge and guideline use for antenatal asthma management.Australian and New Zealand Journal
Asthma is one of the most common chronic health conditions experienced during pregnancy and is associated with numerous adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes.
To better understand the confidence, evidence-based knowledge and guideline use among healthcare professionals around Australia commonly involved in providing antenatal care for women with asthma.
An online, cross-sectional survey was developed and distributed to maternity carers (obstetricians and midwives), primary carers (general practitioners and general practice nurses) and respiratory specialists (respiratory physicians and respiratory nurses). Self-reported confidence and use of clinical guidelines were recorded. Evidence-based knowledge was assessed with 13 questions relating to four clinical scenarios that covered recommendations from national and international guidelines.
Primary carers and respiratory specialists were more confident in providing antenatal asthma care, more likely to use clinical guidelines and scored significantly higher in evidence-based knowledge of antenatal asthma management than maternity carers (P < 0.01 and P < 0.001, respectively). There was no significant difference in evidence-based knowledge among healthcare professionals from metropolitan, regional and rural backgrounds. However, healthcare professionals who used clinical guidelines scored significantly higher than those who did not (P < 0.0001).
Greater utilisation of clinical guidelines could improve the evidence-based knowledge of maternity carers. However, the absence of antenatal asthma management in obstetric- and maternity-specific guidelines poses a potential barrier that needs to be addressed. Furthermore, the development of multidisciplinary antenatal clinics, staffed by respiratory nurses and/or physicians, could improve outcomes for pregnant women with asthma who are not undertaking shared care.