Last year around 150,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth due to excessive bleeding. Almost all of these deaths occurred in developing countries and most could have been prevented.
Past student of Loreto Mary’s Mount, Ballarat, Professor Michelle McIntosh, has assembled a world-class team of researchers to assist her in reducing postpartum haemorrhaging rates in the developing world.
A simple injection of the hormone oxytocin, given two minutes after childbirth, can prevent or treat severe bleeding. However, in resource poor countries where women are most at risk, the drug isn’t readily available because it needs refrigeration, clean syringes and trained medical staff to administer it.
Now backed by the United Nations and with the support of multi-million dollar partnerships – a team of researchers at Monsah University led by Professor McIntosh, are in the midst of developing oxytocin as an inhaled spray which can be used at room temperature and easily given by non-medically trained staff or self-administered by more than 50% of women who give birth at home in developing countries.
The World Health Organisation has recommended that every woman receive an injection of oxytocin immediately after the baby is born. Additionally, the United Nation’s public health arm published a report identifying oxytocin as one of the 13 life-saving commodities that they believe would make the greatest impact on saving lives if made available to women and children in developing countries. The report specifically noted that the
option of “inhaled” oxytocin should be explored. If oxytocin is
delivered via an aerosol it may drastically reduce 150,000 deaths a year.