Posts Tagged ‘ World Health Organization ’

Why C-Sections Should Only Be Performed When Medically Necessary

Monday, April 13th, 2015

In delivery roomThe number of women giving birth via cesarean section has been on the rise for many years now: Approximately 33 percent of births in the United States are C-sections, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO); however, WHO recently released a statement saying this procedure should only be performed if it’s absolutely medically necessary.

Physicians often turn to C-sections as the safest option when the baby is in an abnormal position or if the mother has been in labor for too long, but they are often performed when vaginal birth could still be viable option.

“For nearly 30 years, the international healthcare community has considered the ideal rate for cesarean sections to be between 10 percent and 15 percent,” the WHO report states.

Related: All About C-Sections: Before, During, and After

Although C-sections are one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the world, they can be harmful when unessentially performed. “As a country’s rate moves to 10 percent the rate of mother and child deaths decreases, but there’s no evidence to show that rates over 10 percent have any effect on mother and child mortality.”

The report also emphasizes the importance of doctors treating every situation individually, and confirms that C-sections effectively save maternal and infant lives when medically required. “Every effort should be made to provide cesarean sections to women in need, rather than striving to achieve a specific rate.”

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Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Birth Stories: Emergency C-section
Birth Stories: Emergency C-section
Birth Stories: Emergency C-section

Image: Pregnant woman in delivery room via Shutterstock

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Maternal Deaths Rise in the U.S., Decline Globally

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

American mothers are more likely to die during childbirth than they were twenty years ago, data released by the World Health Organization shows–but globally, maternal death rates have fallen by almost half in the same period of time.  Reuters has more:

The WHO tracks maternal mortality as one of the “Millennium Development Goals” that the United Nations set for 2015. Death rates have fallen by 45 percent globally since 1990, to an estimated 289,000 women in 2013.

Giving birth in the United States remains far safer than in most countries, with only 28 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013. But that is 136 percent higher than the 1990 mortality rate, when only 12 mothers died for every 100,000 births, the data showed.

No other country recorded such a large percentage increase, although a few other rich countries also failed to keep maternal mortality in check. In Canada, deaths rose from 6 to 11 per 100,000 births between 1990 and 2013. Many European countries and Japan have mortality rates in single figures.

China has cut its rate by two-thirds since 1990, with 32 women dying for every 100,000 live births in 2013.

WHO experts said the increase in the U.S. mortality rate may be a statistical blip. Or it might be due to increased risks from obesity, diabetes and older women giving birth.

Marleen Temmerman, the director of reproductive health and research at WHO, said more analysis was needed.

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Polio Health Emergency Declared by WHO

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared polio to be an international health emergency, with ten countries affected by documented outbreak and spreading of the disease.  More from

Especially concerning was the fact that three countries—Pakistan, Syria, and Cameroon—showed higher rates of transmission of wild polio virus to other nations even during the disease’s more dormant period. That raises the possibility that when the virus becomes more active, from April into the summer, transmission rates will peak even more. “If the situation as of today and April 2014 is unchecked, it could result in the failure to eradicate globally one of the world’s most serious vaccine preventable diseases,” Dr. Bruce Ayleward, WHO’s assistant director general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration said during a conference call.

The emergency measures require that residents in the three countries actively exporting polio virus receive a dose of either of the two polio vaccines four weeks-to-12 months before traveling, and that they be provided with proof of their immunization. The remaining seven affected countries are encouraged, but not required, to do the same. The WHO recommended these measures remain in place until countries show no new transmission of polio for six months and evidence of eradication efforts, including immunization programs. While not legally binding, the cooperation of affected countries is expected, Ayleward said. The WHO’s action may also help governments to make polio immunization a priority; in 2009, a similar declaration during the H1N1 pandemic allowed nations to prioritize health care services to protect and treat patients affected by the flu.

Health officials have been getting closer to making polio the second disease, after smallpox, to be eradicated by vaccinating children in countries where the wild virus continues to circulate. But social unrest and political conflict have interrupted immunization programs—some health workers have become targets of violence in Pakistan, for example, while growing populations of displaced residents such as refugees who are without access to health care services also provide fertile conditions for the virus to spread. Seven of the 10 countries now reporting wild polio virus have been successful at eliminating the disease in the past, but have been reinfected in recent years.

Download our free pocket guide to keep track of your little one’s vaccination schedule.

The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule

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1 Million Kids Affected with Tuberculosis Each Year, Report Says

Monday, March 24th, 2014

The World Health Organization estimates nearly 1 million kids are affected with TB every year, and many cases go unreported. About 32,000 of those cases involve a “superbug,” or drug-resistant strain that is especially dangerous. The treatment of TB is easier in children, but harder to diagnose because kids present symptoms differently than in adults. More from

Tuberculosis infects about 1 million children each year, much more than previously thought, and scientists estimate that about 32,000 of them are infected with an especially dangerous and drug-resistant type.

In a report published the journal the Lancet on World Tuberculosis Day, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Division of Global Health Equity report what is the first clear picture of the number of children with tuberculosis (TB) worldwide.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that half a million people caught drug-resistant “superbug” strains of TB in 2012, and that about 2 million people could contract it by 2015. The researchers went through several databases to determine a more accurate number of children with TB, since the disease in kids is known to be underreported.

“What we found was that whereas previous estimates for the total number of TB cases in kids were about half a million, when you account for (underreporting) in your estimates, it’s more like 1 million children develop active TB disease every year,” study author Helen Jenkins of Brigham and Women’s Hospital told Reuters.

It’s important to diagnose TB and its drug-sensitive strain in kids because it’s easier to treat them than adults. But TB is especially hard to diagnose in kids because it presents itself differently in children than adults, Reuters reports. The disease is caused by bacteria that spreads through the air and attacks the lungs. Kids are more likely to have TB present in other parts of the body besides the lungs.

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Baby Care Basics: Surprising Reasons to Call the Doctor
Baby Care Basics: Surprising Reasons to Call the Doctor
Baby Care Basics: Surprising Reasons to Call the Doctor

Image: Open hand raised, Stop TB (Tuberculosis) sign painted via ShutterStock

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Car Mechanic Invents Creative Tool to Help Delivery Babies

Friday, November 15th, 2013

An Argentine car mechanic has developed a device to help deliver babies who are trapped inside the birth canal–and the World Health Organization has taken notice and endorsed the product, and an American medical technology company has licensed it for production.  More from The New York Times:

Mr. [Jorge] Odón, 59, an Argentine car mechanic, built his first prototype in his kitchen, using a glass jar for a womb, his daughter’s doll for the trapped baby, and a fabric bag and sleeve sewn by his wife as his lifesaving device.

Unlikely as it seems, the idea that took shape on his counter has won the enthusiastic endorsement of the World Health Organization and major donors, and an American medical technology company has just licensed it for production.

With the Odón Device, an attendant slips a plastic bag inside a lubricated plastic sleeve around the head, inflates it to grip the head and pulls the bag until the baby emerges.

Doctors say it has enormous potential to save babies in poor countries, and perhaps to reduce cesarean section births in rich ones.

“This is very exciting,” said Dr. Mario Merialdi, the W.H.O.’s chief coordinator for improving maternal and perinatal health and an early champion of the Odón Device. “This critical moment of life is one in which there’s been very little advancement for years.”


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