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Better monitoring of maternal health will help save lives

Obstetric haemorrhage, pre-eclampsia and sepsis account for more than 50% of maternal deaths worldwide. Early detection and effective management of these conditions relies on vital signs monitoring, including pulse and blood pressure.

This Newton-Bhabha funded project is testing the introduction of a new vital sign device into routine maternity care at community and hospital level in 10 sites in India, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Haiti. Developed at KCL in London, the CRADLE Vital Signs Alert (VSA) is a hand-held semi-automated device which measures blood pressure and pulse, detecting hypertension and circulatory shock with an early warning system. It is affordable, easy-to-use, and portable with low power requirements.

Through the project, the CRADLE VSA has now been implemented in all 10 sites. More than 3300 devices have been delivered to hospitals and clinics, and successfully incorporated into routine care, sometimes as the first blood pressure device available in the clinic. A simple training package has been developed and more than 1500 health care workers have been trained to use the device. Results show that the VSA traffic light system strongly predicts the risks of complications and its introduction into maternity care will help save lives.

"To be able to impact on care in those parts of the world where it is desperately needed has been our most fulfilling research experience"

Professor Andrew Shennan

Evaluation of the introduction of a novel device in the management of hypertension and shock in pregnancy in low resource settings

Project leads: Professor Andrew Shennan, KCL Women’s Health Academic Centre at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, and Professor Shivaprasad Goudar, Women’s and Children’s Health Research Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, India

Delivery partners: Medical Research Council and the Department for Biotechnology, India