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Cheap blood drug can prevent thousands of maternal deaths in developing countries

LONDON – A cheap and widely available drug could save the life of one in three of the 100,000 new mothers who bleed to death after childbirth every year, usually in the poorer countries, according to the first study of its use in postpartum hemorrhage.

In a sample of 20,000 women, researchers found that the drug, called tranexamic acid, or TXA, cut the number of deaths as a result of the post-partum bleeding by 31 percent if, within three hours. The treatment costs about $2.50 in most countries, ” she said.

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If TXA works by stopping blood clots from breaking down, the researchers also found that it reduced the need for urgent surgery to control bleeding by more than a third.

“It is a safe, affordable and easy to manage, and we hope that all of the doctors as early as possible after the occurrence of severe bleeding after childbirth,” said Haleema Shakur, an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), who co-led the trial.

The study involved mothers of 193 hospitals in 21 countries, mainly in Africa and Asia, but also in Britain and elsewhere, who suffered a postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), the leading cause of maternal death worldwide.

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PPH is defined as blood loss of more than 500 ml within 24 hours after giving birth.

The results showed that the women were given tranexamic acid within three hours, 89 died of a hemorrhage in comparison with 127 having regard to the normal standard care plus a placebo. No side effects of the drugs were found for mother or babies.

TXA, which is now an off-patent generic drug, it was originally invented in the 1960s by a Japanese husband and wife research team, Shosuke and Utako Okamoto. The drug is widely used for the treatment of excessive blood loss from major trauma injuries.

They had hoped that it would be used to reduce deaths from PPH, but according to the LSHTM experts who ran this study, they were not able to convince the midwives in the time for the performance of a test.

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