[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Maternal mortality has declined by nearly half since 1990, but over a quarter million women still die every year of causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Maternal-health related targets are falling short of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals and a post-2015 Development Agenda is emerging. In connection with this, setting global research priorities for the next decade is now required.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Preterm birth represents the single largest cause of mortality and morbidity for newborns and a major cause of morbidity for pregnant women. Tocolytic agents include a wide range of drugs that can inhibit labour to prolong pregnancy. This may gain time to allow the fetus to mature further before being born, permit antenatal corticosteroid administration for lung maturation, and allow time for intra-uterine transfer to a hospital with neonatal intensive care facilities. However, some tocolytic drugs are associated with severe side effects. Combinations of tocolytic drugs may be more effective over single tocolytic agents or no intervention, without adversely affecting the mother or neonate.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: After successful inhibition of threatened preterm labour women are at high risk of recurrent preterm labour. Terbutaline pump maintenance therapy has been used to reduce adverse neonatal outcomes. This review replaces an earlier Cochrane review, published in 2002, which is no longer being updated by the team.
To determine the effectiveness of terbutaline pump maintenance therapy after threatened preterm labour in reducing adverse neonatal outcomes.
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (31 January 2014) and reference lists of retrieved studies.
Randomised controlled trials comparing terbutaline pump therapy with alternative therapy, placebo, or no therapy after arrest of threatened preterm labour.
Two review authors independently assessed the studies for inclusion and then extracted data as eligible for inclusion in qualitative and quantitative synthesis (meta-analysis).
Four studies were included with a total of 234 women randomised. The overall methodological quality of the included studies was mixed; two studies provided very little information on study methods, there was high sample attrition in one study and in three studies the risk of performance bias was high. We found no strong evidence that terbutaline maintenance therapy offered any advantages over saline placebo or oral terbutaline maintenance therapy in reducing adverse neonatal outcomes by prolonging pregnancy among women with arrested preterm labour. The mean difference (MD) for gestational age at birth was -0.14 weeks (95% confidence interval (CI) -1.66 to 1.38) for terbutaline pump therapy compared with saline placebo pump for two trials combined. One trial reported a risk ratio (RR) of 1.17 (95% CI 0.79 to 1.73) for preterm birth (less than 37 completed weeks) and a RR of 0.97 (95% CI 0.51 to 1.84) of very preterm birth (less than 34 completed weeks) for terbutaline pump compared with saline placebo pump. We found no evidence that terbutaline pump therapy was associated with statistically significant reductions in infant respiratory distress syndrome, or neonatal intensive care unit admission compared with placebo. Compared with oral terbutaline, we found no evidence that pump therapy increased the rate of therapy continuation, or reduced the rate of infant complications or maternal hospital re-admissions. One study suggested that pump therapy resulted in significantly increased weekly cost/woman, $580 versus $12.50 (P < 0.01). No data were reported on long-term infant outcomes.
We found no evidence that terbutaline pump maintenance therapy decreased adverse neonatal outcomes. Taken together with the lack of evidence of benefit, its substantial expense and the lack of information on the safety of the therapy do not support its use in the management of arrested preterm labour. Future use should only be in the context of well-conducted, adequately powered randomised controlled trials.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Preterm birth is a major contributor to perinatal mortality and morbidity worldwide. Tocolytic agents are drugs used to inhibit uterine contractions. Betamimetics are tocolytic agents that have been widely used, especially in resource-poor countries.
To assess the effects of betamimetics given to women with preterm labour.
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (31 December 2013) and reference lists of retrieved studies.
Randomised controlled trials of betamimetics, administered by any route or any dose, in the treatment of women in preterm labour where betamimetics were compared with other betamimetics, placebo or no treatment.
Two review authors assessed risk of bias and extracted the data independently.
Twenty-eight trials were assessed as eligible for inclusion in the review, but eight did not report any outcome data relevant to the review. Results are based on the 20 trials that contributed data.Twelve trials, involving 1367 women, compared betamimetics with placebo. Betamimetics decreased the number of women in preterm labour giving birth within 48 hours (average risk ratio (RR) 0.68, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53 to 0.88, 10 trials, 1209 women). There was a decrease in the number of births within seven days (average RR 0.80; 95% CI 0.65 to 0.98, five trials, 911 women) but there was no evidence of a reduction in preterm birth (before 37 weeks' gestation) (RR 0.95; 95% CI 0.88 to 1.03, 10 trials, 1212 women). No benefit was demonstrated for betamimetics for perinatal death (RR 0.84; 95% CI 0.46 to 1.55, 11 trials, 1332 infants), or neonatal death (RR 0.90; 95% CI 0.27 to 3.00, six trials, 1174 infants). No significant effect was demonstrated for respiratory distress syndrome (RR 0.87; 95% CI 0.71 to 1.08, eight trials, 1239 infants). A few trials reported on cerebral palsy, infant death and necrotising enterocolitis; no significant differences between groups were identified for any of these outcomes. Betamimetics were significantly associated with the following outcomes: withdrawal from treatment due to adverse effects; maternal chest pain; dyspnoea; palpitation; tremor; headaches; hypokalaemia; hyperglycaemia; nausea or vomiting; nasal stuffiness; and fetal tachycardia.Nine trials compared different types of betamimetics. Other betamimetics were compared with ritodrine in five trials (n = 948). Other comparisons were examined in single trials: hexoprenaline compared with salbutamol (n = 140), slow versus moderate release salbutamol (n = 52) and salbutamol compared with terbutaline (n = 200). Trials were small, varied, and of insufficient quality to delineate any consistent patterns of effect.
Betamimetics help to delay birth, which may give time to allow women to be transferred to tertiary care or to complete a course of antenatal corticosteroids. However, multiple adverse effects must be considered. The data are too few to support the use of any particular betamimetic.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Labour dystocia is associated with a number of adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes. Augmentation of labour is a commonly used intervention in cases of labour dystocia. Misoprostol is an inexpensive and stable prostaglandin E1 analogue that can be administered orally, vaginally, sublingually or rectally. Misoprostol has proven to be effective at stimulating uterine contractions although it can have serious, and even life-threatening side-effects. Titration refers to the process of adjusting the dose, frequency, or both, of a medication on the basis of frequent review to achieve optimal outcomes. Studies have reported on a range of misoprostol titration regimens used for labour induction and titrated misoprostol may potentially be effective and safe for augmentation of labour.
To examine the effects and safety of titrated oral misoprostol compared with placebo, oxytocin, other interventions, or no active treatment, in women with labour dystocia.
The Trials Search Co-ordinator of the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register; date of search: 29 May 2013. We also searched the reference lists of retrieved studies SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised trials (including quasi-randomised and cluster-randomised trials) comparing titrated oral misoprostol with placebo, other interventions (e.g. oxytocin, other prostaglandins), or no treatment in women requiring augmentation of labour were eligible for inclusion.
Two review authors independently assessed eligibility for inclusion, carried out data extraction and assessed risk of bias in included studies. Data were entered by one author and checked for accuracy.
We included two randomised trials with a total of 581 women each comparing different regimens of titrated oral misoprostol with intravenous oxytocin. One study compared 20 mcg doses of misoprostol dissolved in water (repeated every hour up to four hours, after which the dose was increased to 40 mcg per hour up to a maximum total dose of 1600 mcg), while the second study gave women 75 mcg doses (repeated after four hours provided there were no adverse effects observed).Neither trial reported maternal death, severe maternal morbidity, or fetal/neonatal mortality outcomes, and only a few fetal/neonatal morbidity outcomes were considered, none of which were significantly different between groups. For several outcomes (such as maternal side-effects, instrumental birth, maternal blood transfusion for hypovolaemia and epidural analgesia), the number of events was generally too low for sufficient statistical power to be achieved. Maternal satisfaction was not reported in either trial. One trial reported a slight reduction in the median duration of labour from the start of augmentation to vaginal delivery in the oxytocin group.Neither trial reported significantly higher rates of caesarean section (CS) in the oral misoprostol group. Rates of vaginal delivery within 12 and 24 hours of commencing augmentation were not significantly different in the trial using a 20 mcg misoprostol dose. Neither trial had significantly higher rates of uterine hyperstimulation with fetal heart rate changes in the titrated oral misoprostol group. However, the rates of this outcome varied so greatly between the two studies as to suggest that other factors were at play. The only significant differences between groups related to uterine hyperstimulation (without fetal heart rate changes), and results were not consistent in the two trials. In the trial examining the higher dose of misoprostol, more women in the misoprostol group experienced hyperstimulation of labour measured over a 10-minute period compared with those receiving oxytocin (risk ratio (RR) 1.17, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02 to 1.35, 350 women). In the study examining the lower titrated dose of misoprostol, there was a lower incidence of tachysystole when labour was augmented with titrated oral misoprostol than with oxytocin (RR 0.39, 95% CI 0.17 to 0.91, 231 women) with no occurrences of hypertonus in either group of women.
Important uncertainties still exist on the safety and acceptability of titrated oral misoprostol compared with intravenous oxytocin regimens in women with dystocia following spontaneous onset of labour. Although in facilities where electronic oxytocin infusion is not available, low-dose titrated misoprostol may offer a better alternative to an uncontrolled oxytocin infusion to avoid hyperstimulation. Further research is needed in both high- and low-resource settings More trials should be conducted to evaluate the effect of a standard titration oral misoprostol regimen, both following spontaneous labour and labour induction. Comparisons with other augmentation methods are also warranted, as are any effects on women's birth experiences.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Maternal complications including psychological and mental health problems and neonatal morbidity have been commonly observed in the postpartum period. Home visits by health professionals or lay supporters in the weeks following the birth may prevent health problems from becoming chronic with long-term effects on women, their babies, and their families.
To assess outcomes for women and babies of different home-visiting schedules during the early postpartum period. The review focuses on the frequency of home visits, the duration (when visits ended) and intensity, and on different types of home-visiting interventions.
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (28 January 2013) and reference lists of retrieved articles.
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) (including cluster-RCTs) comparing different types of home-visiting interventions enrolling participants in the early postpartum period (up to 42 days after birth). We excluded studies in which women were enrolled and received an intervention during the antenatal period (even if the intervention continued into the postnatal period) and studies recruiting only women from specific high-risk groups. (e.g. women with alcohol or drug problems).
Study eligibility was assessed by at least two review authors. Data extraction and assessment of risk of bias were carried out independently by at least two review authors. Data were entered into Review Manager software.
We included data from 12 randomised trials with data for more than 11,000 women. The trials were carried out in countries across the world, and in both high- and low-resource settings. In low-resource settings women receiving usual care may have received no additional postnatal care after early hospital discharge.The interventions and control conditions varied considerably across studies with trials focusing on three broad types of comparisons: schedules involving more versus fewer postnatal home visits (five studies), schedules involving different models of care (three studies), and home versus hospital clinic postnatal check-ups (four studies). In all but two of the included studies, postnatal care at home was delivered by healthcare professionals. The aim of all interventions was broadly to assess the wellbeing of mothers and babies, and to provide education and support, although some interventions had more specific aims such as to encourage breastfeeding, or to provide practical support.For most of our outcomes only one or two studies provided data, and overall results were inconsistent.There was no evidence that home visits were associated with improvements in maternal and neonatal mortality, and no strong evidence that more postnatal visits at home were associated with improvements in maternal health. More intensive schedules of home visits did not appear to improve maternal psychological health and results from two studies suggested that women receiving more visits had higher mean depression scores. The reason for this finding was not clear. There was some evidence that postnatal care at home may reduce infant health service utilisation in the weeks following the birth, and that more home visits may encourage more women to exclusively breastfeed their babies. There was some evidence that home visits are associated with increased maternal satisfaction with postnatal care.
Overall, findings were inconsistent. Postnatal home visits may promote infant health and maternal satisfaction. However, the frequency, timing, duration and intensity of such postnatal care visits should be based upon local needs. Further well designed RCTs evaluating this complex intervention will be required to formulate the optimal package.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Telephone communication is increasingly being accepted as a useful form of support within health care. There is some evidence that telephone support may be of benefit in specific areas of maternity care such as to support breastfeeding and for women at risk of depression. There is a plethora of telephone-based interventions currently being used in maternity care. It is therefore timely to examine which interventions may be of benefit, which are ineffective, and which may be harmful.
To assess the effects of telephone support during pregnancy and the first six weeks post birth, compared with routine care, on maternal and infant outcomes.
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (23 January 2013) and reference lists of all retrieved studies.
We included randomised controlled trials, comparing telephone support with routine care or with another supportive intervention aimed at pregnant women and women in the first six weeks post birth.
Three review authors independently assessed studies identified by the search strategy, carried out data extraction and assessed risk of bias. Data were entered by one review author and checked by a second. Where necessary, we contacted trial authors for further information on methods or results.
We have included data from 27 randomised trials involving 12,256 women. All of the trials examined telephone support versus usual care (no additional telephone support). We did not identify any trials comparing different modes of telephone support (for example, text messaging versus one-to-one calls). All but one of the trials were carried out in high-resource settings. The majority of studies examined support provided via telephone conversations between women and health professionals although a small number of trials included telephone support from peers. In two trials women received automated text messages. Many of the interventions aimed to address specific health problems and collected data on behavioural outcomes such as smoking cessation and relapse (seven trials) or breastfeeding continuation (seven trials). Other studies examined support interventions aimed at women at high risk of postnatal depression (two trials) or preterm birth (two trials); the rest of the interventions were designed to offer women more general support and advice.For most of our pre-specified outcomes few studies contributed data, and many of the results described in the review are based on findings from only one or two studies. Overall, results were inconsistent and inconclusive although there was some evidence that telephone support may be a promising intervention. Results suggest that telephone support may increase women's overall satisfaction with their care during pregnancy and the postnatal period, although results for both periods were derived from only two studies. There was no consistent evidence confirming that telephone support reduces maternal anxiety during pregnancy or after the birth of the baby, although results on anxiety outcomes were not easy to interpret as data were collected at different time points using a variety of measurement tools. There was evidence from two trials that women at high risk of depression who received support had lower mean depression scores in the postnatal period, although there was no clear evidence that women who received support were less likely to have a diagnosis of depression. Results from trials offering breastfeeding telephone support were also inconsistent, although the evidence suggests that telephone support may increase the duration of breastfeeding. There was no strong evidence that women receiving telephone support were less likely to be smoking at the end of pregnancy or during the postnatal period.For infant outcomes, such as preterm birth and infant birthweight, overall, there was little evidence. Where evidence was available, there were no clear differences between groups. Results from two trials suggest that babies whose mothers received support may have been less likely to have been admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), although it is not easy to understand the mechanisms underpinning this finding.
Despite some encouraging findings, there is insufficient evidence to recommend routine telephone support for women accessing maternity services, as the evidence from included trials is neither strong nor consistent. Although benefits were found in terms of reduced depression scores, breastfeeding duration and increased overall satisfaction, the current trials do not provide strong enough evidence to warrant investment in resources.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Several factors may influence the progression of normal labour. It has been postulated that the routine administration of intravenous fluids to keep women adequately hydrated during labour may reduce the period of contraction and relaxation of the uterine muscle, and may ultimately reduce the duration of the labour. It has also been suggested that intravenous fluids may reduce caesarean sections (CS) for prolonged labour. However, the routine administration of intravenous fluids to labouring women has not been adequately elucidated although it is a widely-adopted policy, and there is no consensus on the type or volume of fluids that are required, or indeed, whether intravenous fluids are at all necessary. Women may be able to adequately hydrate themselves if they were allowed oral fluids during labour.Furthermore, excessive volumes of intravenous fluids may pose risks to both the mother and her newborn and different fluids are associated with different risks. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate whether the routine administration of intravenous fluids to low-risk nulliparous labouring women reduces the duration of labour and to evaluate the safety of intravenous fluids on maternal and neonatal health. SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (13 February 2013). SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials of intravenous fluid administration to spontaneously labouring low-risk nulliparous women. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: The review authors independently assessed trials for inclusion, trial quality and extracted data. MAIN RESULTS: We included nine randomised trials with 1781 women. Three trials had more than two treatment arms and were included in more than one comparison.Two trials compared women randomised to receive up to 250 mL/hour of Ringer's lactate solution as well as oral intake versus oral intake only. For women delivering vaginally, there was a reduction in the duration of labour in the Ringer's lactate group (mean difference (MD) -28.86 minutes, 95% confidence interval (CI) -47.41 to -10.30). There was no statistical reduction in the number of CS in the Ringer's lactate group (risk ratio (RR), 0.73 95% CI 0.49 to 1.08).Three trials compared women who received 125 mL/hour versus 250 mL/hour of intravenous fluids with free oral fluids in both groups. Women receiving a greater hourly volume of intravenous fluids (250 mL) had shorter labours than those receiving 125 mL (MD 23.87 minutes, 95% CI 3.72 to 44.02, 256 women). There was no statistically significant reduction in the number of CS in the 250 mL intravenous fluid group (average RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.54 to1.87, three studies, 334 women). In one study the number of assisted vaginal deliveries was lower in the group receiving 125 mL/hour (RR 0.47, 95% CI 0.27 to 0.81).Four trials compared rates of intravenous fluids in women where oral intake was restricted (125 mL/hour versus 250 mL/hour). There was a reduction in the duration of labour in women who received the higher infusion rate (MD 105.61 minutes, 95% CI 53.19 to 158.02); P < 0.0001, however, findings must be interpreted with caution as there was high heterogeneity amongst trials (I(2) = 53%). There was a significant reduction in CS in women receiving the higher rate of intravenous fluid infusion (RR 1.56, 95% CI 1.10 to 2.21; P = 0.01). There was no difference identified in the assisted delivery rate (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.44 to 1.40). There was no clear difference between groups in the number of babies admitted to the NICU (RR 0.48, 95% CI 0.07 to 3.17).Two trials compared normal saline versus 5% dextrose. Only one reported the mean duration of labour, and there was no strong evidence of a difference between groups (MD -12.00, 95% CI -30.09 to 6.09). A trial reporting the median suggested that the duration was reduced in the dextrose group. There was no significant difference in CS or assisted deliveries (RR 0.77, 95% CI 0.41 to 1.43, two studies, 284 women) and (RR 0.59, 95% CI 0.21 to 1.63, one study, 93 women) respectively. Only one trial reported on maternal hyponatraemia (serum sodium levels < 135 mmol/L ). For neonatal complications, there was no difference in the admission to NICU) or in low Apgar scores, however 33.3% of babies developed hyponatraemia in the dextrose group compared to 13.3 % in the normal saline group (RR 0.40, 95% CI 0.17 to 0.93) (P = 0.03). One trial reported a higher incidence of neonatal hyperbilirubinaemia in the dextrose group of babies. There was no difference in neonatal hypoglycaemic episodes between groups. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Although the administration of intravenous fluids compared with oral intake alone demonstrated a reduction in the duration of labour, this finding emerged from only two trials. The findings of other trials suggest that if a policy of no oral intake is applied, then the duration of labour in nulliparous women may be shortened by the administration of intravenous fluids at a rate of 250 mL/hour rather than 125 mL/hour. However, it may be possible for women to simply increase their oral intake rather than being attached to a drip and we have to consider whether it is justifiable to persist with a policy of 'nil by mouth'. One trial raised concerns about the safety of dextrose and this needs further exploration.None of the trials reported on the evaluation of maternal views of being attached to a drip during their entire labour. Furthermore, there was no objective assessment of dehydration. The evidence from this review does not provide robust evidence to recommend routine administration of intravenous fluids. Interpreting the results from trials was hampered by the low number of trials contributing data and by variation between trials. In trials where oral fluids were not restricted there was considerable variation in the amount of oral fluid consumed by women in different arms of the same trial, and between different trials. In addition, results from trials were not consistent and risk of bias varied. Some important research questions were addressed by single trials only, and important outcomes relating to maternal and infant morbidity were frequently not reported.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Intentional artificial rupture of the amniotic membranes during labour, sometimes called amniotomy or 'breaking of the waters', is one of the most commonly performed procedures in modern obstetric and midwifery practice. The primary aim of amniotomy is to speed up contractions and, therefore, shorten the length of labour. However, there are concerns regarding unintended adverse effects on the woman and baby. OBJECTIVES: To determine the effectiveness and safety of amniotomy alone for routinely shortening all labours that start spontaneously. SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (30 April 2013). SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials comparing amniotomy alone versus intention to preserve the membranes. We excluded quasi-randomised trials. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors assessed identified studies for inclusion, assessed risk of bias and extracted data. Primary analysis was by intention-to-treat. MAIN RESULTS: We have included 15 studies in this updated review, involving 5583 women. Amniotomy alone versus intention to preserve the membranes (no amniotomy) for spontaneous labour There was no clear statistically significant difference between women in the amniotomy and control groups in length of the first stage of labour (mean difference (MD) -20.43 minutes, 95% confidence interval (CI) -95.93 to 55.06), caesarean section (risk ratio (RR) 1.27, 95% CI 0.99 to 1.63), maternal satisfaction with childbirth experience (MD -1.10, 95% CI -7.15 to 4.95) or Apgar score less than seven at five minutes (RR 0.53, 95% CI 0.28 to 1.00). There was no consistency between trials regarding the timing of amniotomy during labour in terms of cervical dilatation. Amniotomy alone versus intention to preserve the membranes (no amniotomy) for spontaneous labours that have become prolonged There was no clear statistically significant difference between women in the amniotomy and control group in caesarean section (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.15 to 6.08), maternal satisfaction with childbirth experience (MD 22.00, 95% CI 2.74 to 41.26) or Apgar score less than seven at five minutes (RR 2.86, 95% CI 0.12 to 66.11). AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: On the basis of the findings of this review, we cannot recommend that amniotomy should be introduced routinely as part of standard labour management and care. We recommend that the evidence presented in this review should be made available to women offered an amniotomy and may be useful as a foundation for discussion and any resulting decisions made between women and their caregivers.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: In 2001, the WHO Antenatal Care Trial (WHOACT) concluded that an antenatal care package of evidence-based screening, therapeutic interventions and education across four antenatal visits for low-risk women was not inferior to standard antenatal care and may reduce cost. However, an updated Cochrane review in 2010 identified an increased risk of perinatal mortality of borderline statistical significance in three cluster-randomized trials (including the WHOACT) in developing countries. We conducted a secondary analysis of the WHOACT data to determine the relationship between the reduced visits, goal-oriented antenatal care package and perinatal mortality. METHODS: Exploratory analyses were conducted to assess the effect of baseline risk and timing of perinatal death. Women were stratified by baseline risk to assess differences between intervention and control groups. We used linear modeling and Poisson regression to determine the relative risk of fetal death, neonatal death and perinatal mortality by gestational age. RESULTS: 12,568 women attended the 27 intervention clinics and 11,958 women attended the 26 control clinics. 6,160 women were high risk and 18,365 women were low risk. There were 161 fetal deaths (1.4%) in the intervention group compared to 119 fetal deaths in the control group (1.1%) with an increased overall adjusted relative risk of fetal death (Adjusted RR 1.27; 95% CI 1.03, 1.58). This was attributable to an increased relative risk of fetal death between 32 and 36 weeks of gestation (Adjusted RR 2.24; 95% CI 1.42, 3.53) which was statistically significant for high and low risk groups. CONCLUSION: It is plausible the increased risk of fetal death between 32 and 36 weeks gestation could be due to reduced number of visits, however heterogeneity in study populations or differences in quality of care and timing of visits could also be playing a role. Monitoring maternal, fetal and neonatal outcomes when implementing antenatal care protocols is essential. Implementing reduced visit antenatal care packages demands careful monitoring of maternal and perinatal outcomes, especially fetal death.
Reproductive Health 04/2013; 10(1):19. · 1.31 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract
Background: In 2001, the WHO Antenatal Care Trial (WHOACT) concluded that an antenatal care package of evidence-based screening, therapeutic interventions and education across four antenatal visits for low-risk women was not inferior to standard antenatal care and may reduce cost. However, an updated Cochrane review in 2010 identified an increased risk of perinatal mortality of borderline statistical significance in three cluster-randomized trials (including the WHOACT) in developing countries. We conducted a secondary analysis of the WHOACT data to determine the relationship between the reduced visits, goal-oriented antenatal care package and perinatal mortality.
Methods: Exploratory analyses were conducted to assess the effect of baseline risk and timing of perinatal death. Women were stratified by baseline risk to assess differences between intervention and control groups. We used linear modeling and Poisson regression to determine the relative risk of fetal death, neonatal death and perinatal mortality by gestational age.
Results: 12,568 women attended the 27 intervention clinics and 11,958 women attended the 26 control clinics. 6,160 women were high risk and 18,365 women were low risk. There were 161 fetal deaths (1.4%) in the intervention group compared to 119 fetal deaths in the control group (1.1%) with an increased overall adjusted relative risk of fetal death (Adjusted RR 1.27; 95% CI 1.03, 1.58). This was attributable to an increased relative risk of fetal death between 32 and 36 weeks of gestation (Adjusted RR 2.24; 95% CI 1.42, 3.53) which was statistically significant for high and low risk groups.
Conclusion: It is plausible the increased risk of fetal death between 32 and 36 weeks gestation could be due to reduced number of visits, however heterogeneity in study populations or differences in quality of care and timing of visits could also be playing a role. Monitoring maternal, fetal and neonatal outcomes when implementing antenatal care protocols is essential. Implementing reduced visit antenatal care packages demands careful monitoring of maternal and perinatal outcomes, especially fetal death.
Reproductive Health. 01/2013; 10(19) DOI:10.1186/1742-4755-10-19. Published: 12 April 2013).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anaemia is a frequent condition during pregnancy, particularly among women from developing countries who have insufficient iron intake to meet increased iron needs of both the mother and the fetus.Traditionally, gestational anaemia has been prevented with the provision of daily iron supplements throughout pregnancy, but adherence to this regimen due to side effects, interrupted supply of the supplements, and concerns about safety among women with an adequate iron intake, have limited the use of this intervention. Intermittent (i.e. one, two or three times a week on non-consecutive days) supplementation with iron alone or in combination with folic acid or other vitamins and minerals has recently been proposed as an alternative to daily supplementation.
To assess the benefits and harms of intermittent supplementation with iron alone or in combination with folic acid or other vitamins and minerals to pregnant women on neonatal and pregnancy outcomes.
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (23 March 2012). We also searched the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) for ongoing studies and contacted relevant organisations for the identification of ongoing and unpublished studies (23 March 2012).
Randomised or quasi-randomised trials.
We assessed the methodological quality of trials using standard Cochrane criteria. Two review authors independently assessed trial eligibility, extracted data and conducted checks for accuracy.
This review includes 21 trials from 13 different countries, but only 18 trials (with 4072 women) reported on our outcomes of interest and contributed data to the review. All of these studies compared daily versus intermittent iron supplementation.Three studies provided iron alone, 12 iron+folic acid and three more iron plus multiple vitamins and minerals. Their methodological quality was mixed and most had high levels of attrition. Overall, there was no clear evidence of differences between groups for infant primary outcomes: low birthweight (average risk ratio (RR) 0.96; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.61 to 1.52, seven studies), infant birthweight (mean difference MD -8.62 g; 95% CI -52.76 g to 35.52 g, eight studies), premature birth (average RR 1.82; 95% CI 0.75 to 4.40, four studies). None of the studies reported neonatal deaths or congenital anomalies.For maternal outcomes, there was no clear evidence of differences between groups for anaemia at term (average RR 1.22; 95% CI 0.84 to 1.80, four studies) and women receiving intermittent supplementation had less side effects (average RR 0.56; 95% CI 0.37 to 0.84, 11 studies) than those receiving daily supplements. Women receiving intermittent supplements were also at lower risk of having high haemoglobin (Hb) concentrations (greater than 130 g/L) during the second or third trimester of pregnancy (average RR 0.48; 95% CI 0.35 to 0.67, 13 studies). There were no significant differences in iron-deficiency anaemia between women receiving intermittent or daily iron+folic acid supplementation (average RR 0.71; 95% CI 0.08 to 6.63, 1 study). There were no maternal deaths (six studies) or women with severe anaemia in pregnancy (six studies). None of the studies reported on iron deficiency at term or infections during pregnancy.Where sufficient data were available for primary outcomes, we set up subgroups to look for possible differences between studies in terms of earlier or later supplementation; women's anaemia status at the start of supplementation; higher and lower weekly doses of iron; and the malarial status of the region in which the trials were conducted. There was no clear effect of these variables on the results of the review.
The present systematic review is the most comprehensive summary of the evidence assessing the benefits and harms of intermittent iron supplementation regimens in pregnant women on haematological and pregnancy outcomes. The findings suggest that intermittent iron+folic acid regimens produce similar maternal and infant outcomes at birth as daily supplementation but are associated with fewer side effects. Women receiving daily supplements had increased risk of developing high levels of Hb in mid and late pregnancy but were less likely to present mild anaemia near term. Although the evidence is limited and the quality of the trials was low or very low, intermittent may be a feasible alternative to daily iron supplementation among those pregnant women who are not anaemic and have adequate antenatal care.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Excessive weight gain during pregnancy is associated with multiple maternal and neonatal complications. However, interventions to prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy have not been adequately evaluated.
To evaluate the effectiveness of interventions for preventing excessive weight gain during pregnancy and associated pregnancy complications.
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (20 October 2011) and MEDLINE (1966 to 20 October 2011).
All randomised controlled trials and quasi-randomised trials of interventions for preventing excessive weight gain during pregnancy.
We assessed for inclusion all potential studies we identified as a result of the search strategy. At least two review authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. We resolved discrepancies through discussion. We have presented results using risk ratio (RR) for categorical data and mean difference for continuous data. We analysed data using a fixed-effect model.
We included 28 studies involving 3976 women; 27 of these studies with 3964 women contributed data to the analyses. Interventions focused on a broad range of interventions. However, for most outcomes we could not combine data in a meta-analysis, and where we did pool data, no more than two or three studies could be combined for a particular intervention and outcome. Overall, results from this review were mainly not statistically significant, and where there did appear to be differences between intervention and control groups, results were not consistent. For women in general clinic populations one (behavioural counselling versus standard care) of three interventions examined was associated with a reduction in the rate of excessive weight gain (RR 0.72, 95% confidence interval 0.54 to 0.95); for women in high-risk groups no intervention appeared to reduce excess weight gain. There were inconsistent results for mean weight gain (reported in all but one of the included studies). We found a statistically significant effect on mean weight gain for five interventions in the general population and for two interventions in high-risk groups.Most studies did not show statistically significant effects on maternal complications, and none reported significant effects on adverse neonatal outcomes.
There is not enough evidence to recommend any intervention for preventing excessive weight gain during pregnancy, due to the significant methodological limitations of included studies and the small observed effect sizes. More high-quality randomised controlled trials with adequate sample sizes are required to evaluate the effectiveness of potential interventions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is extensive evidence of important health risks for infants and mothers related to not breastfeeding. In 2003, the World Health Organization recommended infants be exclusively breastfed until six months of age, with breastfeeding continuing as an important part of the infant's diet till at least two years of age. However, breastfeeding rates in many countries currently do not reflect this recommendation.
To assess the effectiveness of support for breastfeeding mothers.
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (3 October 2011).
Randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials comparing extra support for healthy breastfeeding mothers of healthy term babies with usual maternity care.
Two review authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data.
Of the 67 studies that we assessed as eligible for inclusion, 52 contributed outcome data to the review (56,451 mother-infant pairs) from 21 countries. All forms of extra support analysed together showed an increase in duration of 'any breastfeeding' (includes partial and exclusive breastfeeding) (risk ratio (RR) for stopping any breastfeeding before six months 0.91, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.88 to 0.96). All forms of extra support together also had a positive effect on duration of exclusive breastfeeding (RR at six months 0.86, 95% CI 0.82 to 0.91; RR at four to six weeks 0.74, 95% CI 0.61 to 0.89). Extra support by both lay and professionals had a positive impact on breastfeeding outcomes. Maternal satisfaction was poorly reported.
All women should be offered support to breastfeed their babies to increase the duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding. Support is likely to be more effective in settings with high initiation rates, so efforts to increase the uptake of breastfeeding should be in place. Support may be offered either by professional or lay/peer supporters, or a combination of both. Strategies that rely mainly on face-to-face support are more likely to succeed. Support that is only offered reactively, in which women are expected to initiate the contact, is unlikely to be effective; women should be offered ongoing visits on a scheduled basis so they can predict that support will be available. Support should be tailored to the needs of the setting and the population group.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Iron and folic acid supplementation has been the preferred intervention to improve iron stores and prevent anaemia among pregnant women, and it may also improve other maternal and birth outcomes.
To assess the effects of daily oral iron supplements for pregnant women, either alone or in conjunction with folic acid, or with other vitamins and minerals as a public health intervention.
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (2 July 2012). We also searched the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) (2 July 2012) and contacted relevant organisations for the identification of ongoing and unpublished studies.
Randomised or quasi-randomised trials evaluating the effects of oral preventive supplementation with daily iron, iron + folic acid or iron + other vitamins and minerals during pregnancy.
We assessed the methodological quality of trials using standard Cochrane criteria. Two review authors independently assessed trial eligibility, extracted data and conducted checks for accuracy.
We included 60 trials. Forty-three trials, involving more than 27,402 women, contributed data and compared the effects of daily oral supplements containing iron versus no iron or placebo.Overall, women taking iron supplements were less likely to have low birthweight newborns (below 2500 g) compared with controls (8.4% versus 10.2%, average risk ratio (RR) 0.81; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.68 to 0.97, 11 trials, 8480 women) and mean birthweight was 30.81 g greater for those infants whose mothers received iron during pregnancy (average mean difference (MD) 30.81; 95% CI 5.94 to 55.68, 14 trials, 9385 women). Preventive iron supplementation reduced the risk of maternal anaemia at term by 70% (RR 0.30; 95% CI 0.19 to 0.46, 14 trials, 2199 women) and iron deficiency at term by 57% (RR 0.43; 95% CI 0.27 to 0.66, seven trials, 1256 women). Although the difference between groups did not reach statistical significance, women who received iron supplements were more likely than controls to report side effects (25.3% versus 9.91%) (RR 2.36; 95% CI 0.96 to 5.82, 11 trials, 4418 women), particularly at doses 60 mg of elemental iron or higher. Women receiving iron were on average more likely to have higher haemoglobin (Hb) concentrations at term and in the postpartum period, but were at increased risk of Hb concentrations greater than 130g/L during pregnancy and at term. Twenty-three studies were conducted in countries that in 2011 had some malaria risk in parts of the country. In some of these countries/territories, malaria is present only in certain areas or up to a particular altitude. Only two of these reported malaria outcomes. There is no evidence that iron supplementation increases placental malaria. For some outcomes heterogeneity was higher than 50%.
Prenatal supplementation with daily iron are effective to reduce the risk of low birthweight, and to prevent maternal anaemia and iron deficiency in pregnancy. Associated maternal side effects and particularly high Hb concentrations during pregnancy at currently used doses suggest the need to update recommendations on doses and regimens for routine iron supplementation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The pain that women experience during labour is affected by multiple physiological and psychosocial factors and its intensity can vary greatly. Most women in labour require pain relief. Pain management strategies include non-pharmacological interventions (that aim to help women cope with pain in labour) and pharmacological interventions (that aim to relieve the pain of labour).
To summarise the evidence from Cochrane systematic reviews on the efficacy and safety of non-pharmacological and pharmacological interventions to manage pain in labour. We considered findings from non-Cochrane systematic reviews if there was no relevant Cochrane review.
We searched the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (The Cochrane Library 2011, Issue 5), The Cochrane Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (The Cochrane Library 2011, Issue 2 of 4), MEDLINE (1966 to 31 May 2011) and EMBASE (1974 to 31 May 2011) to identify all relevant systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials of pain management in labour. Each of the contributing Cochrane reviews (nine new, six updated) followed a generic protocol with 13 common primary efficacy and safety outcomes. Each Cochrane review included comparisons with placebo, standard care or with a different intervention according to a predefined hierarchy of interventions. Two review authors extracted data and assessed methodological quality, and data were checked by a third author. This overview is a narrative summary of the results obtained from individual reviews.
We identified 15 Cochrane reviews (255 included trials) and three non-Cochrane reviews (55 included trials) for inclusion within this overview. For all interventions, with available data, results are presented as comparisons of: 1. Intervention versus placebo or standard care; 2. Different forms of the same intervention (e.g. one opioid versus another opioid); 3. One type of intervention versus a different type of intervention (e.g. TENS versus opioid). Not all reviews included results for all comparisons. Most reviews compared the intervention with placebo or standard care, but with the exception of opioids and epidural analgesia, there were few direct comparisons between different forms of the same intervention, and even fewer comparisons between different interventions. Based on these three comparisons, we have categorised interventions into: " What works" ,"What may work", and "Insufficient evidence to make a judgement".WHAT WORKSEvidence suggests that epidural, combined spinal epidural (CSE) and inhaled analgesia effectively manage pain in labour, but may give rise to adverse effects. Epidural, and inhaled analgesia effectively relieve pain when compared with placebo or a different type of intervention (epidural versus opioids). Combined-spinal epidurals relieve pain more quickly than traditional or low dose epidurals. Women receiving inhaled analgesia were more likely to experience vomiting, nausea and dizziness.When compared with placebo or opioids, women receiving epidural analgesia had more instrumental vaginal births and caesarean sections for fetal distress, although there was no difference in the rates of caesarean section overall. Women receiving epidural analgesia were more likely to experience hypotension, motor blockade, fever or urinary retention. Less urinary retention was observed in women receiving CSE than in women receiving traditional epidurals. More women receiving CSE than low-dose epidural experienced pruritus. WHAT MAY WORKThere is some evidence to suggest that immersion in water, relaxation, acupuncture, massage and local anaesthetic nerve blocks or non-opioid drugs may improve management of labour pain, with few adverse effects. Evidence was mainly limited to single trials. These interventions relieved pain and improved satisfaction with pain relief (immersion, relaxation, acupuncture, local anaesthetic nerve blocks, non-opioids) and childbirth experience (immersion, relaxation, non-opioids) when compared with placebo or standard care. Relaxation was associated with fewer assisted vaginal births and acupuncture was associated with fewer assisted vaginal births and caesarean sections.INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCEThere is insufficient evidence to make judgements on whether or not hypnosis, biofeedback, sterile water injection, aromatherapy, TENS, or parenteral opioids are more effective than placebo or other interventions for pain management in labour. In comparison with other opioids more women receiving pethidine experienced adverse effects including drowsiness and nausea.
Most methods of non-pharmacological pain management are non-invasive and appear to be safe for mother and baby, however, their efficacy is unclear, due to limited high quality evidence. In many reviews, only one or two trials provided outcome data for analysis and the overall methodological quality of the trials was low. High quality trials are needed.There is more evidence to support the efficacy of pharmacological methods, but these have more adverse effects. Thus, epidural analgesia provides effective pain relief but at the cost of increased instrumental vaginal birth.It remains important to tailor methods used to each woman's wishes, needs and circumstances, such as anticipated duration of labour, the infant's condition, and any augmentation or induction of labour.A major challenge in compiling this overview, and the individual systematic reviews on which it is based, has been the variation in use of different process and outcome measures in different trials, particularly assessment of pain and its relief, and effects on the neonate after birth. This made it difficult to pool results from otherwise similar studies, and to derive conclusions from the totality of evidence. Other important outcomes have simply not been assessed in trials; thus, despite concerns for 30 years or more about the effects of maternal opioid administration during labour on subsequent neonatal behaviour and its influence on breastfeeding, only two out of 57 trials of opioids reported breastfeeding as an outcome. We therefore strongly recommend that the outcome measures, agreed through wide consultation for this project, are used in all future trials of methods of pain management.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mother-infant separation postbirth is common in Western culture. Early skin-to-skin contact (SSC) begins ideally at birth and involves placing the naked baby, head covered with a dry cap and a warm blanket across the back, prone on the mother's bare chest. According to mammalian neuroscience, the intimate contact inherent in this place (habitat) evokes neurobehaviors ensuring fulfillment of basic biological needs. This time may represent a psychophysiologically 'sensitive period' for programming future physiology and behavior.
To assess the effects of early SSC on breastfeeding, physiological adaptation, and behavior in healthy mother-newborn dyads.
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (30 November 2011), made personal contact with trialists, and consulted the bibliography on kangaroo mother care (KMC) maintained by Dr. Susan Ludington.
Randomized controlled trials comparing early SSC with usual hospital care.
We independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. Study authors were contacted for additional information.
Thirty-four randomized controlled trials were included involving 2177 participants (mother-infant dyads). Data from more than two trials were available for only eight outcome measures. For primary outcomes, we found a statistically significant positive effect of early SSC on breastfeeding at one to four months postbirth (13 trials; 702 participants) (risk ratio (RR) 1.27, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06 to 1.53, and SSC increased breastfeeding duration (seven trials; 324 participants) (mean difference (MD) 42.55 days, 95% CI -1.69 to 86.79) but the results did not quite reach statistical significance (P = 0.06). Late preterm infants had better cardio-respiratory stability with early SSC (one trial; 31 participants) (MD 2.88, 95% CI 0.53 to 5.23). Blood glucose 75 to 90 minutes following the birth was significantly higher in SSC infants (two trials, 94 infants) (MD 10.56 mg/dL, 95% CI 8.40 to 12.72).The overall methodological quality of trials was mixed, and there was high heterogeneity for some outcomes.
Limitations included methodological quality, variations in intervention implementation, and outcomes. The intervention appears to benefit breastfeeding outcomes, and cardio-respiratory stability and decrease infant crying, and has no apparent short- or long-term negative effects. Further investigation is recommended. To facilitate meta-analysis, future research should be done using outcome measures consistent with those in the studies included here. Published reports should clearly indicate if the intervention was SSC with time of initiation and duration and include means, standard deviations and exact probability values.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Optimal timing for clamping the umbilical cord at preterm birth is unclear. Early clamping allows for immediate transfer of the infant to the neonatologist. Delaying clamping allows blood flow between the placenta, the umbilical cord and the baby to continue. The blood which transfers to the baby between birth and cord clamping is called placental transfusion. Placental transfusion may improve circulating volume at birth, which may in turn improve outcome for preterm infants.
To assess the short- and long-term effects of early rather than delaying clamping or milking of the umbilical cord for infants born at less than 37 completed weeks' gestation, and their mothers.
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group Trials Register (31 May 2011). We updated this search on 26 June 2012 and added the results to the awaiting classification section.
Randomised controlled trials comparing early with delayed clamping of the umbilical cord and other strategies to influence placental transfusion for births before 37 completed weeks' gestation.
Three review authors assessed eligibility and trial quality.
Fifteen studies (738 infants) were eligible for inclusion. Participants were between 24 and 36 weeks' gestation at birth. The maximum delay in cord clamping was 180 seconds. Delaying cord clamping was associated with fewer infants requiring transfusions for anaemia (seven trials, 392 infants; risk ratio (RR) 0.61, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.46 to 0.81), less intraventricular haemorrhage (ultrasound diagnosis all grades) 10 trials, 539 infants (RR 0.59, 95% CI 0.41 to 0.85) and lower risk for necrotising enterocolitis (five trials, 241 infants, RR 0.62, 95% CI 0.43 to 0.90) compared with immediate clamping. However, the peak bilirubin concentration was higher for infants allocated to delayed cord clamping compared with immediate clamping (seven trials, 320 infants, mean difference 15.01 mmol/L, 95% CI 5.62 to 24.40). For most other outcomes (including the primary outcomes infant death, severe (grade three to four) intraventricular haemorrhage and periventricular leukomalacia) there were no clear differences identified between groups; but for many there was incomplete reporting and wide CIs. Outcome after discharge from hospital was reported for one small study; there were no significant differences between the groups in mean Bayley II scores at age seven months (corrected for gestation at birth (58 children)).No studies reported outcomes for the women.
Providing additional placental blood to the preterm baby by either delaying cord clamping for 30 to 120 seconds, rather than early clamping, seems to be associated with less need for transfusion, better circulatory stability, less intraventricular haemorrhage (all grades) and lower risk for necrotising enterocolitis. However, there were insufficient data for reliable conclusions about the comparative effects on any of the primary outcomes for this review.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Approximately 600 million children of preschool and school age are anaemic worldwide. It is estimated that half of the cases are due to iron deficiency. Consequences of iron deficiency anaemia during childhood include growth retardation, reduced school achievement, impaired motor and cognitive development, and increased morbidity and mortality. The provision of daily iron supplements is a widely used strategy for improving iron status in children but its effectiveness has been limited due to its side effects, which can include nausea, constipation or staining of the teeth. As a consequence, intermittent iron supplementation (one, two or three times a week on non-consecutive days) has been proposed as an effective and safer alternative to daily supplementation.
To assess the effects of intermittent iron supplementation, alone or in combination with other vitamins and minerals, on nutritional and developmental outcomes in children from birth to 12 years of age compared with a placebo, no intervention or daily supplementation.
We searched the following databases on 24 May 2011: CENTRAL (2011, Issue 2), MEDLINE (1948 to May week 2, 2011), EMBASE (1980 to 2011 Week 20), CINAHL (1937 to current), POPLINE (all available years) and WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP). On 29 June 2011 we searched all available years in the following databases: SCIELO, LILACS, IBECS and IMBIOMED. We also contacted relevant organisations (on 3 July 2011) to identify ongoing and unpublished studies.
Randomised and quasi-randomised trials with either individual or cluster randomisation. Participants were children under the age of 12 years at the time of intervention with no specific health problems. The intervention assessed was intermittent iron supplementation compared with a placebo, no intervention or daily supplementation.
Two authors independently assessed the eligibility of studies against the inclusion criteria, extracted data from included studies and assessed the risk of bias of the included studies.
We included 33 trials, involving 13,114 children (˜49% females) from 20 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. The methodological quality of the trials was mixed.Nineteen trials evaluated intermittent iron supplementation versus no intervention or a placebo and 21 studies evaluated intermittent versus daily iron supplementation. Some of these trials contributed data to both comparisons. Iron alone was provided in most of the trials.Fifteen studies included children younger than 60 months; 11 trials included children 60 months and older, and seven studies included children in both age categories. One trial included exclusively females. Seven trials included only anaemic children; three studies assessed only non-anaemic children, and in the rest the baseline prevalence of anaemia ranged from 15% to 90%.In comparison with receiving no intervention or a placebo, children receiving iron supplements intermittently have a lower risk of anaemia (average risk ratio (RR) 0.51, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.37 to 0.72, ten studies) and iron deficiency (RR 0.24, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.91, three studies) and have higher haemoglobin (mean difference (MD) 5.20 g/L, 95% CI 2.51 to 7.88, 19 studies) and ferritin concentrations (MD 14.17 µg/L, 95% CI 3.53 to 24.81, five studies).Intermittent supplementation was as effective as daily supplementation in improving haemoglobin (MD -0.60 g/L, 95% CI -1.54 to 0.35, 19 studies) and ferritin concentrations (MD -4.19 µg/L, 95% CI -9.42 to 1.05, 10 studies), but increased the risk of anaemia in comparison with daily iron supplementation (RR 1.23, 95% CI 1.04 to1.47, six studies). Data on adherence were scarce and it tended to be higher among those children receiving intermittent supplementation, although this result was not statistically significant.We did not identify any differential effect of the type of intermittent supplementation regimen (one, two or three times a week), the total weekly dose of elemental iron, the nutrient composition, whether recipients were male or female or the length of the intervention.
Intermittent iron supplementation is efficacious to improve haemoglobin concentrations and reduce the risk of having anaemia or iron deficiency in children younger than 12 years of age when compared with a placebo or no intervention, but it is less effective than daily supplementation to prevent or control anaemia. Intermittent supplementation may be a viable public health intervention in settings where daily supplementation has failed or has not been implemented. Information on mortality, morbidity, developmental outcomes and side effects, however, is still lacking.