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£1.8m for major study into management of bleeding after childbirth

28 June 2017

The UK National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) has awarded a collaboration led by Liverpool, Bristol and Sunderland £1.8m to run a large study into the drug treatment of bleeding after childbirth (also called postpartum haemorrhage or PPH).

Postpartum haemorrhage is a common maternity emergency affecting 40,000 British women each year. Although it can usually be treated in the UK, it can lead to long-lasting complications. Globally, however, it remains a major cause of death and is responsible for around 25 per cent of the 289,000 maternal deaths annually. It is estimated that somewhere in the world a woman dies from PPH every 6 minutes. PPH is commonly treated by injections of either oxytocin or carboprost. Oxytocin is a natural hormone-like substance that causes the uterus to contract. Oxytocin is used to induce labour or strengthen labour contractions during childbirth, and to control bleeding after childbirth. Carboprost is a form of prostaglandin (a hormone-like substance that occurs naturally in the body). Prostaglandins help to control functions in the body such as blood pressure and muscle contractions. It is not known which is more effective in the treatment of PPH. The study will compare the use of these injections and will involve nearly 4,000 women with PPH from 40 hospitals around the UK.

Professor Andrew Weeks, Consultant Obstetrician at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Chief Investigator for the study, said: “We are delighted to be part of this important study that has the chance to improve the care of so many women. Bleeding after childbirth can happen very quickly and it is important that we get the treatment right. This will allow women to get on with the important matter of caring for their new baby, rather than having to spend their time recovering.”

Dr Dimitrios Siassakos, Consultant Senior Lecturer in Obstetrics at North Bristol NHS Trust and the University of Bristol, and lead co-applicant together with Professor Weeks and Dr Hinshaw, commented: “As we are about to complete the Bristol-led IMOX study to find the best drug to prevent women from bleeding after birth, we will start this exciting new study across the UK to find the best drug to stop bleeding if prevention fails”.

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