Nav: Home

Bringing the 'magic' of ultrasound to rural Uganda to reduce pregnancy complications

April 20, 2017

LONDON, ON - In a collaborative study from Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson), Western University (Western), Bridge to Health Medical and Dental, and Kigezi Healthcare Foundation (KIHEFO), a team of researchers found that radio advertising for free ultrasounds in rural Uganda increased the number of pregnant women who attended modern medical care by 490 per cent.

The study was conducted to address the low number of women in rural Uganda who attend free antenatal care - modern health care for expecting mothers. In Uganda, approximately 6,000 women die annually from pregnancy-related complications and up to one third of women deliver their babies at home.

"Our hypothesis was that if we could offer free ultrasounds, so that women could see their unborn baby, more women would come forward and attend the antenatal clinic," explains Dr. Michael Silverman, a scientist at Lawson and Western and senior author on the study. "Who doesn't want to see their unborn baby? It's like magic."

Dr. Silverman conducted this study alongside Dr. William Cherniak, Executive Director at Bridge to Health, and Dr. Geoffrey Anguyo, Executive Director at KIHEFO.

In the developing world, women do not present for antenatal care for a variety of reasons. "It may be against their cultural beliefs or they may view modern medicine as irrelevant," says Dr. Cherniak. "As a result, many of these women are unaware of pregnancy complications and deliver at home without a trained health care professional."

Common pregnancy complications include the baby being turned the wrong way, the placenta being in the wrong place or even expecting twins. Another complication is the transmission of infectious diseases from the mother to child. In Africa, the biggest risk is the transmission of HIV, hepatitis B or syphilis which can be transmitted from the mother to the baby and cause chronic infection of the baby, birth defects or death. Undiagnosed maternal malaria can also lead to severe complications.

The use of portable ultrasound machines is extremely beneficial. "Portable ultrasounds allow you to screen for serious anatomical problems, like the baby being positioned the wrong way. When women present to the clinic for an ultrasound, we can also screen them for the infections which can lead to severe complications, and offer treatments," says Dr. Silverman, also Chair/Chief of Infectious Diseases at London Health Sciences Centre, St. Joseph's Health Care London and Western. "Portable ultrasound machines are fairly inexpensive to maintain and it's easy to train people to perform a simple obstetric ultrasound."

The study found that the method of advertising was important. When advertising free ultrasounds by word-of-mouth, there was no significant increase in the number of women who attended antenatal care. "It appears that the message about free ultrasounds was not spreading. Many people did not believe it was true that they could see their unborn baby," says Dr. Cherniak.

The researchers therefore decided to advertise free ultrasounds by radio with the hope that the message would be taken more seriously and spread farther. Radios are common in Ugandan households. As a result, almost six times the number of women attended the antenatal care clinics. This increase was particularly great in women who had previously seen a traditional healer. Amongst these women, attendance increased almost ninefold when ultrasound was advertised on the radio.

With an increase in the number of women who present for antenatal care, the research team hopes that health providers can show expecting mothers that modern care is safe, friendly and trustworthy. "We want to demonstrate to expecting mothers that antenatal care is safe and beneficial, and see if this encourages them to continue attending, particularly when they are in labour," says Dr. Cherniak.

The study, "Effectiveness of advertising availability of prenatal ultrasound on uptake of antenatal care in rural Uganda: A cluster randomized trial", is published in PLoS ONE. The study was funded by Bridge to Health Medical and Dental, and also supported by Cole Engineering, Lebovic Enterprises, Rotary International and Rotary Club of Scarborough North.

A video about this research can be viewed on the Western University YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BL6c2TXyIK4.
-end-
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Robert DeLaet
Communications & External Relations
Lawson Health Research Institute
519-685-8500 ext. 75664
robert.delaet@lawsonresearch.com

LAWSON HEALTH RESEARCH INSTITUTE

As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care London, and working in partnership with Western University, Lawson Health Research Institute is committed to furthering scientific knowledge to advance health care around the world.

Follow Lawson News online:

Website: https://www.lawsonresearch.ca/news-events

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lawsonhealthresearchinstitute

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lawsonresearch

WESTERN UNIVERSITY

Western University delivers an academic experience second to none. Since 1878, The Western Experience has combined academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social and cultural growth in order to better serve our communities. Our research excellence expands knowledge and drives discovery with real-world application. Western attracts individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community.

SCHULICH SCHOOL OF MEDICINE & DENTISTRY

The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University is one of Canada's preeminent medical and dental schools. Established in 1881, it was one of the founding schools of Western University and is known for being the birthplace of family medicine in Canada. For more than 130 years, the School has demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence and a passion for scientific discovery.

Follow Western Media Relations online:

Website: http://communications.uwo.ca/media/

RSS: http://feeds.feedburner.com/MediaWesternU

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mediawesternu

BRIDGE TO HEALTH MEDICAL AND DENTAL

Founded in Toronto, Bridge to Health Medical and Dental is comprised of a passionate group of medical and dental professionals brought together by a common desire to help provide healthcare to those in tremendous need. Our aim is to provide sustainable healthcare in a cost effective manner and have a lasting impact on the communities we serve. We currently operate in underserved rural communities of Uganda. In collaboration with KIHEFO, a reputable local non-governmental organization, we provide medical and dental care, improve healthcare delivery systems, train local healthcare workers and educate the residents of these communities. http://www.bridgetohealth.ca

KIGEZI HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION (KIHEFO)

A local not-for-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to community development in the Kabale District, located in the Kigezi Region, in southwest Uganda. KIHEFO operates a unique community approach. The KIHEFO team travels to villages bringing community development services to village groups that would otherwise be hard to reach. KIHEFO cares for and supports orphans and vulnerable children; operates general, dental and HIV/AIDS clinics; and operates a child nutrition and rehabilitation centre. KIHEFO's services address a diverse array of community needs including medical care, education, economic development and counseling. http://kihefoblog.wordpress.com/

Lawson Health Research Institute

Related Ultrasound Articles:

World's first ultrasound biosensor created in Australia
Most implantable monitors for drug levels and biomarkers invented so far rely on high tech and expensive detectors such as CT scans or MRI.
Ultrasound can make stronger 3D-printed alloys
A study just published in Nature Communications shows high frequency sound waves can have a significant impact on the inner micro-structure of 3D printed alloys, making them more consistent and stronger than those printed conventionally.
Full noncontact laser ultrasound: First human data
Conventional ultrasonography requires contact with the patient's skin with the ultrasound probe for imaging, which causes image variability due to inconsistent probe contact pressure and orientation.
Ultrasound aligns living cells in bioprinted tissues
Researchers have developed a technique to improve the characteristics of engineered tissues by using ultrasound to align living cells during the biofabrication process.
Ultrasound for thrombosis prevention
Researchers established real-time ultrasonic monitoring of the blood's aggregate state using the in vitro blood flow model.
Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech
A new, more sensitive method to measure ultrasound may revolutionize everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.
Shoulder 'brightness' on ultrasound may be a sign of diabetes
A shoulder muscle that appears unusually bright on ultrasound may be a warning sign of diabetes, according to a new study.
Ultrasound-firewall for mobile phones
Mobile phones and tablets through so-called audio tracking, can be used by means of ultrasound to unnoticeably track the behaviour of their users: for example, viewing certain videos or staying in specific rooms and places.
Designing a new material for improved ultrasound
Development of a theoretical basis for ultrahigh piezoelectricity in ferroelectric materials led to a new material with twice the piezo response of any existing commercial ferroelectric ceramics, according to an international team of researchers from Penn State, China and Australia.
Atomic structure of ultrasound material not what anyone expected
Lead magnesium niobate (PMN) is a prototypical
More Ultrasound News and Ultrasound Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 3: Shared Immunity
More than a million people have caught Covid-19, and tens of thousands have died. But thousands more have survived and recovered. A week or so ago (aka, what feels like ten years in corona time) producer Molly Webster learned that many of those survivors possess a kind of superpower: antibodies trained to fight the virus. Not only that, they might be able to pass this power on to the people who are sick with corona, and still in the fight. Today we have the story of an experimental treatment that's popping up all over the country: convalescent plasma transfusion, a century-old procedure that some say may become one of our best weapons against this devastating, new disease.   If you have recovered from Covid-19 and want to donate plasma, national and local donation registries are gearing up to collect blood.  To sign up with the American Red Cross, a national organization that works in local communities, head here.  To find out more about the The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, which we spoke about in our episode, including information on clinical trials or plasma donation projects in your community, go here.  And if you are in the greater New York City area, and want to donate convalescent plasma, head over to the New York Blood Center to sign up. Or, register with specific NYC hospitals here.   If you are sick with Covid-19, and are interested in participating in a clinical trial, or are looking for a plasma donor match, check in with your local hospital, university, or blood center for more; you can also find more information on trials at The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project. And lastly, Tatiana Prowell's tweet that tipped us off is here. This episode was reported by Molly Webster and produced by Pat Walters. Special thanks to Drs. Evan Bloch and Tim Byun, as well as the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.