Obstetrics :: trends
Am J Bioeth. 2012 ;12 (7):44-52 22694036
Cape Breton University, Canada. email@example.com
Cesarean delivery rates have been steadily increasing worldwide. In response, many countries have introduced target goals to reduce rates. But a focus on target goals fails to address practices embedded in standards of care that encourage, rather than discourage, cesarean sections. Obstetrical standards of care normalize use of technology, creating an imperative to use technology during labor and birth. A technological imperative is implicated in rising cesarean rates if physicians or patients fear refusing use of technology. Reproductive autonomy is at stake since a technological imperative undermines patients' ability to choose cesareans or refuse use of technology increasing the likelihood of cesareans. To address practices driven by a technological imperative I outline three physician obligations that are attached to respecting patient autonomy. These moral obligations show that a focus on respect for autonomy may prove not only an ideal ethical response but also an achievable practical response to lowering cesarean rates.
Most cited papers:
The etiology of preeclampsia is unknown. At present, 4 hypotheses are the subject of extensive investigation, as follows:(1) Placental ischemia-Increased trophoblast deportation, as a consequence of ischemia, may inflict endothelial cell dysfunction.(2) Very low-density lipoprotein versus toxicity-preventing activity-In compensation for increased energy demand during pregnancy, nonesterified fatty acids are mobilized. In women with low albumin concentrations, transporting extra nonesterified fatty acids from adipose tissues to the liver is likely to reduce albumin's antitoxic activity to a point at which very-low density lipoprotein toxicity is expressed.(3) Immune maladaptation-Interaction between decidual leukocytes and invading cytotrophoblast cells is essential for normal trophoblast invasion and development. Immune maladaptation may cause shallow invasion of spiral arteries by endovascular cytotrophoblast cells and endothelial cell dysfunction mediated by an increased decidual release of cytokines, proteolytic enzymes, and free radical species.(4) Genetic imprinting-Development of preeclampsia-eclampsia may be based on a single recessive gene or a dominant gene with incomplete penetrance. Penetrance may be dependent on fetal genotype. The possibility of genetic imprinting should be considered in future genetic investigations of preeclampsia.
David M Studdert, Michelle M Mello, William M Sage, Catherine M DesRoches, Jordon Peugh, Kinga Zapert, Troyen A Brennan
Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass 02115, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTEXT How often physicians alter their clinical behavior because of the threat of malpractice liability, termed defensive medicine, and the consequences of those changes, are central questions in the ongoing medical malpractice reform debate. OBJECTIVE To study the prevalence and characteristics of defensive medicine among physicians practicing in high-liability specialties during a period of substantial instability in the malpractice environment. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Mail survey of physicians in 6 specialties at high risk of litigation (emergency medicine, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, obstetrics/gynecology, and radiology) in Pennsylvania in May 2003. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Number of physicians in each specialty reporting defensive medicine or changes in scope of practice and characteristics of defensive medicine (assurance and avoidance behavior). RESULTS A total of 824 physicians (65%) completed the survey. Nearly all (93%) reported practicing defensive medicine."Assurance behavior" such as ordering tests, performing diagnostic procedures, and referring patients for consultation, was very common (92%). Among practitioners of defensive medicine who detailed their most recent defensive act, 43% reported using imaging technology in clinically unnecessary circumstances. Avoidance of procedures and patients that were perceived to elevate the probability of litigation was also widespread. Forty-two percent of respondents reported that they had taken steps to restrict their practice in the previous 3 years, including eliminating procedures prone to complications, such as trauma surgery, and avoiding patients who had complex medical problems or were perceived as litigious. Defensive practice correlated strongly with respondents' lack of confidence in their liability insurance and perceived burden of insurance premiums. CONCLUSION Defensive medicine is highly prevalent among physicians in Pennsylvania who pay the most for liability insurance, with potentially serious implications for cost, access, and both technical and interpersonal quality of care.
Division of Neonatology, Department of Paediatrics, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
OBJECTIVES: Declines in neonatal mortality have been attributed to neonatal intensive care. An alternative to the "better care" hypothesis is the "better babies" hypothesis; ie, very low birth weight infants are delivered less ill and therefore have better survival. DESIGN: We ascertained outcomes of all live births <1500 g in two prospective inception cohorts. We estimated mortality risk from birth weight and illness severity on admission and measured therapeutic intensity. We calculated logistic regression models to estimate the changing odds of mortality between cohorts. PATIENTS AND SETTING: Two cohorts in the same two hospitals, 5 years apart (1989-1990 and 1994-1995)(total n = 739). RESULTS: Neonatal intensive care unit mortality declined from 17.1% to 9.5%, and total mortality declined from 31.6% to 18.4%. Cohort 2 had lower risk (higher birth weight, gestational age, and Apgar scores and lower admission illness severity for newborns >/=750 g). Risk-adjusted mortality declined (odds ratio, 0.52; confidence interval, 0.29-0. 96). One third of the decline was attributable to "better babies" and two thirds to "better care." Use of surfactant, mechanical ventilation, and pressors became more aggressive, but decreases in monitoring, procedures, and transfusions resulted in little change in therapeutic intensity. CONCLUSIONS: Mortality decreased nearly 50% for infants <1500 g in 5 years. One third of this decline is attributable to improved condition on admission that reflects improving obstetric and delivery room care. Two thirds of the decline is attributable to more effective newborn intensive care, which was associated with greater aggressiveness of respiratory and cardiovascular treatments. Attribution of improved birth weight specific mortality solely to neonatal intensive care may underestimate the contribution of high-risk obstetric care in providing "better babies."
The superiority of breast-feeding to artificial feeding of infants has been well established for nutritional, biochemical, antiinfective, psychological, economic, and contraceptive reasons. The promotion of breast-feeding should, therefore, be a high-priority concern of health workers. Both provision of information and support to expectant mothers and changes in hospital routines in the perinatal period have been shown capable of dramatically increasing the incidence and duration of breast-feeding in populations studied. Moreover, these interventions are interventions are quite specific, effective, manageable, and affordable. Obstetricians have a special responsibility and capacity to promote breast-feeding given their contact with women throughout pregnancy and their influence on hospital birth routines. A greater commitment on the part of obstetricians to promote breast-feeding could accelerate and extend the current shift back to breast-feeding, to the benefit of mothers and their babies in all socioeconomic groups.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson.
Nine cases of early and six cases of advanced abdominal pregnancy managed at the University of Mississippi Medical Center over a 20-year period are reviewed. An incidence of one abdominal pregnancy in 4857 deliveries occurred in this series. A perinatal mortality rate of 83% and no maternal mortality were noted, in contrast to published rates of 40-95% and 0.5-18%, respectively. Important current concepts of management include difficulty in diagnosis, predisposing risk factors, suggestive signs and symptoms, the diagnostic role of ultrasound, and the appropriate surgical management of parturients with this ominous pregnancy complication.
Academic Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, North Staffordshire Maternity Hospital, Stoke on Trent ST4 6QG.
Changes in neonatology: comparison of two cohorts of very preterm infants (gestational age <32 weeks): the Project On Preterm and Small for Gestational Age Infants 1983 and the Leiden Follow-Up Project on Prematurity 1996-1997.
Gerlinde M S J Stoelhorst, Monique Rijken, Shirley E Martens, Ronald Brand, A Lya den Ouden, Jan-Maarten Wit, Sylvia Veen
Department of Pediatrics, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands.
OBJECTIVE To determine changes in peri- and neonatal care concerning neonatal mortality and morbidity by comparing 2 cohorts of very prematurely born infants (gestational age [GA]<32 weeks), 1 from the 1980s and 1 from the 1990s. METHODS The Leiden Follow-Up Project on Prematurity (LFUPP-1996/97), a regional, prospective study, includes all infants who were born alive after a GA <32 weeks in 1996 and 1997 in the Dutch health regions Leiden, The Hague, and Delft. The Project On Preterm and Small for Gestational Age Infants (POPS-1983), a national, prospective study from the presurfactant era, includes all liveborn infants <32 weeks' GA and/or <1500 g from 1983 (n = 1338). For comparison, infants from the POPS-1983 cohort with a GA <32 weeks from the same Dutch health regions were selected (n = 102). RESULTS The absolute number of preterm births in the study region increased by 30%: 102 in 1983 to on average of 133 in 1996-1997. Centralization of perinatal care improved: the percentage of extrauterinely transported infants decreased from 61% in 1983 to 35% in 1996-1997. A total of 182 (73%) of the LFUPP-1996/97 infants were treated antenatally with glucocorticosteroids compared with 6 (6%) of the POPS-1983 infants. A total of 112 (42%) of the LFUPP-1996/97 infants received surfactant. In-hospital mortality decreased from 30% in the 1980s to 11% in the 1990s. Mortality of the extremely preterm infants (<27 weeks) decreased from 76% to 33%. The incidence of respiratory distress syndrome remained the same: approximately 60% in both groups. Mortality from respiratory distress syndrome, however, decreased from 29% to 8%. The incidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia increased from 6% to 19%. For the surviving infants, the average length of stay in the hospital and the mean number of NICU days stayed approximately the same ( approximately 67 days total admission time and 44 NICU days in both groups); including the infants who died, the mean NICU admission time increased from 27 days in the 1980s to 41 days in the 1990s. Equal percentages of adverse outcome (dead or an abnormal general condition) at the moment of discharge from hospital were found (+/-40% in both groups). CONCLUSIONS An increase in the absolute number of very preterm births in this study region was found, leading to a greater burden on the regional NICUs. Improvements in peri- and neonatal care have led to an increased survival of especially extremely preterm infants. However, increased survival has resulted in more morbidity, mainly bronchopulmonary dysplasia, at the moment of discharge from the hospital.
Changes in maternal characteristics and obstetric practice and recent increases in primary cesarean delivery.
K S Joseph, David C Young, Linda Dodds, Colleen M O'Connell, Victoria M Allen, Sujata Chandra, Alexander C Allen
Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics, Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. email@example.com
OBJECTIVE To estimate the contribution of changes in maternal characteristics (namely, age, parity, prepregnancy weight, weight gain in pregnancy, smoking status) and obstetric practice (namely, labor induction, epidural anesthesia, delivery by an obstetrician, midpelvic forceps delivery) to recent increases in primary cesarean delivery rates. METHODS We studied all deliveries in Nova Scotia, Canada, between 1988 and 2000 after excluding women who had a previous cesarean delivery (n = 127,564). Logistic regression was used to study the effect of changes in maternal characteristics and obstetric practice on primary cesarean delivery rates. The effect of changes in midpelvic forceps delivery was examined through ecologic Poisson regression. RESULTS Primary cesarean delivery rates increased from 13.4% of deliveries in 1988 to 17.5% in 2000. This was due to increases in cesarean deliveries for dystocia (14% increase), breech (24% increase), suspected fetal distress (21% increase), hypertension (47% increase), and miscellaneous indications (73% increase). Adjustment for maternal characteristics reduced the temporal increase in primary cesarean delivery rates between 1988-1991 and 1998-2000 from 21%(95% confidence interval [CI] 16%, 25%) to 2%(95% CI -2%, 7%). Additional adjustment for obstetric practice factors further reduced period effects. Midpelvic forceps delivery was significantly and negatively associated with primary cesarean delivery (P =.001). CONCLUSION Recent increases in primary cesarean delivery rates are a consequence of changes in maternal characteristics. Obstetric practice, which has altered due to changes in maternal characteristics and concerns related to fetal and maternal safety, has also contributed to increases in primary cesarean delivery.
Family Health International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Surrogate end points in clinical research pose real danger. A surrogate end point is an outcome measure, commonly a laboratory test, that substitutes for a clinical event of true importance. Resistance to activated protein C, for example, has been used as a surrogate for venous thrombosis in women using oral contraceptives. Other examples of inappropriate surrogate end points in contraception include the postcoital test instead of pregnancy to evaluate new spermicides, breakage and slippage instead of pregnancy to evaluate condoms, and bone mineral density instead of fracture to assess the safety of depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate. None of these markers captures the effect of the treatment on the true outcome. A valid surrogate end point must both correlate with and accurately predict the outcome of interest. Although many surrogate markers correlate with an outcome, few have been shown to capture the effect of a treatment (for example, oral contraceptives) on the outcome (venous thrombosis). As a result, thousands of useless and misleading reports on surrogate end points litter the medical literature. New drugs have been shown to benefit a surrogate marker, but, paradoxically, triple the risk of death. Thousands of patients have died needlessly because of reliance on invalid surrogate markers. Researchers should avoid surrogate end points unless they have been validated; that requires at least one well done trial using both the surrogate and true outcome. The clinical maxim that "a difference to be a difference must make a difference" applies to research as well. Clinical research should focus on outcomes that matter.
Deliveries, mothers and newborn infants in Sweden, 1973-2000. Trends in obstetrics as reported to the Swedish Medical Birth Register.
Center for Epidemiology, Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, Stockholm, Sweden. email@example.com
INTRODUCTION The aim of this report is to present descriptive data from the Swedish Medical Birth Register (MBR) reflecting trends in obstetric and neonatal practices over three decades. MATERIAL Since 1973 the MBR at the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare receives information on all pregnancies in Sweden--around 95,000 annually--that have lead to delivery regarding the pregnancy, delivery and the newborn infant. In this study selected data from the MBR are presented as they have developed between 1973 and 2000. RESULTS There was a shift in age distribution of childbearing women towards older women. Cigarette smoking in early pregnancy decreased from 30% to 12%. In-hospital time after both vaginal and cesarean (CS) delivery decreased and more than 50% of all women with a vaginal singleton delivery left hospital within 48 hours in 2000. The proportion of CS increased from 5 to 15% at singleton deliveries. The CS rate for breech deliveries increased and was nearly 80% in 2000. The mean birth weight increased, particularly the proportion of heavy infants. The proportion of early neonatal deaths decreased continuously, both for term infants and infants born after short gestational length, whereas no such downward trends was found for stillbirth during the last 10-15 years. CONCLUSION Although several of the changes regarding pregnancy and delivery that occurred between 1973 and 2000 could be expected to influence pregnancy outcome negatively, the trends described here generally suggest improvement in maternal and child health.