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Excessive bleeding after childbirth is the leading cause of maternal deaths worldwide

Researchers based at the University of Birmingham are starting a ground-breaking maternal health trial across 80 hospitals in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Sri Lanka.

The trial, called the E-MOTIVE study, aims to reduce severe bleeding after birth and ultimately reduce maternal deaths and complications due to bleeding by 25%.

Excessive bleeding after childbirth is the leading cause of maternal deaths worldwide, mainly in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Arri Coomarasamy, Professor of Gynaecology and Reproductive Medicine at the University of Birmingham and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Women’s Health, commented: “Every six minutes a mother dies from childbirth-related bleeding in low-resource countries, often leaving behind a young family; her newborn infant has less than a 20% chance of surviving past the first month.”

High quality childbirth care from expert healthcare professionals is available for all mothers in the UK. Tried and tested methods for dealing with severe bleeding after birth are applied consistently, if a new mother starts to bleed after childbirth.

Yet for women in LMICs, delayed detection and inconsistent treatment make excessive bleeding highly dangerous. Developing a package of care to help diagnose bleeding early, and treat women quickly can make the difference between life and death.

The study aims to generate the necessary evidence to give healthcare practitioners and policy-makers the confidence to implement and scale up the E-MOTIVE programme, moving us closer to having a solution for stopping mothers dying from bleeding after childbirth.

“Doctors and midwifes often do not realise that a woman is bleeding excessively – and thus the woman may not get life-saving treatment in time. The longer the delay in detection and treatment of the excessive bleeding, the greater the risk of her life being lost.” said Dr Ioannis Gallos, Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Birmingham.

“Easy-to-implement interventions, that could be critical, are inconsistently used. Our programme intends to change practice so that women get the right treatment at the right time.”

The E-MOTIVE study is supported by the Institute of Global Innovation of the University of Birmingham and a $10.9M grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.