$1 Injection could treat dangerous bleeding after childbirth
A third of new mothers who suffer from deadly hemorrhaging after child birth could be saved by a low-cost treatment, a UK international study found. The loss of a mother during child birth is devastating and countless scientists have searched for a way to end this tragedy. Melinda Gates has called the issue a top priority for her and her family and even went so far as to donate $1.5 billion from her family’s foundation to the cause. One in five new mothers die every year due to severe bleeding after child birth.
Conducted in 193 hospitals in 21 countries, the study included 20,000 women who were undergoing postpartum hemorrhage, one of the most life-threatening medical complications. Many things can go wrong when a woman is giving birth, she could have a tear in the vagina or birth canal, her cervix could rupture, the placenta could get stuck to the womb and not separate properly, and in some cases, women experience a coagulation problems where there is no obvious sign of injury but there is uncontrollable bleeding. This type of bleeding is the leading cause of maternal mortality around the world.
The study called WOMAN, or World Maternal Antifibrinolytic Trial conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, chose patients at random to receive either a placebo or tranexamic acid (TXA) which helps the blood to clot. The medicine was given along with the normal actions that an emergency doctor would take when trying to stop the bleeding. The trial was double-blind meaning that neither the doctors nor researchers nor patients knew what they were getting. The study found that the risk of death from bleeding was reduced by 20 percent for the women who got tranexamic compared with those who got nothing. It was also found that if a doctor administers the medicine within three hours of the start of bleeding, the results were even more promising with a 30 percent reduction in the risk of death.
The use of TXA can be traced back more than 50 years to a Japanese Doctor but the value of the use was not recognized until recently. It was not until the Gates foundation and other donors like the Wellcome Trust getting involved that the postpartum-bleeding trial got off the ground. Wellcome Trust senior partner Tim Knott said the trial “stands to make a critical difference in preventing women dying after childbirth.” The TXA is cheap and does not need to be refrigerated, making the transport and store of it very easy to do. The study accelerates the timeline for the drug to be available to women especially in developing countries.