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Birth Theme

Births that are wanted and safe

What is the B theme about?

Every year there are over 200 million pregnancies in the world, wanted and unwanted, that result in a healthy baby delivered by a healthy woman, or an adverse birth outcome that afflicts mother, child, or both.

There are an estimated 5.5 million deaths around the time of birth each year, including 2.6 million stillbirths, 2.6 million neonatal deaths, and 303,000 maternal deaths. One in every four couples in the developing world has been affected by infertility with global levels of primary and secondary infertility relatively unchanged between 1990 and 2010. The ‘Birth’ theme covers issues related to preconception, family planning, pregnancy, care at birth and the immediate postnatal period. Topics covered by MARCH members include infertility, menstrual hygiene, induced abortion and miscarriage, contraceptive needs and unmet needs, obstetric complications, maternal mortality, prevention and treatment of infectious and chronic diseases during pregnancy, stillbirth, and neonatal morbidity and mortality, particularly preterm birth.

What does the B theme do?

The ‘Birth’ theme includes anthropologists, paediatricians, epidemiologists, lab scientists, economists, demographers, statisticians as well as several other disciplines. MARCH members play a leading role in quantifying the burden of diseases as well as testing interventions or technologies designed to prevent and to treat complications of birth and deaths, in high- and low-resource countries. MARCH members also study how maternity, antenatal, postnatal and reproductive health services can be used as a platform to deliver services that prevent and control infections such as HIV, malaria, and other public health problems such as violence against women.


B theme research

Examples of research:

  • The WOMAN Trial – A multi-country randomised controlled trial of tranexamic acid administered to women who have postpartum haemorrhage involving more than 15,000 women across 19 countries (Professor Ian Roberts, Haleema Shakur and colleagues).
  • Conducting clinical trials designed to prevent and treat malaria infection during pregnancy (Professors Brian Greenwood, Daniel Chandramohan and colleagues).
  • IDEAS Project – Three large evaluations of multi-country intervention projects of maternal and neonatal health interventions as well as family planning funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Professor Joanna Schellenberg)
  • Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) Metrics – The project aims to support countries in reaching the target of fewer than 12 newborn deaths per 1000 live births, and fewer than 12 stillbirths per 1,000 total births by 2030. This work is also closely linked to the Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality Plan (EPMM), The Global strategy for Women, Children and Adolescents, and supports the Sustainable Development Goals (Professor Joy Lawn)
  • Maternal Healthcare Markets Evaluations (MET) Team – Evaluation of MSD for Mothers – a 10-year, $500 million initiative focused on improving the quality of maternal healthcare women receive at a health facility during childbirth, and on increasing access to family planning (Professor Catherine Goodman & Assistant Professor Caroline Lynch)
  • Evaluation of Prevention of Maternal Mortality and Unwanted Pregnancy (EVA-PMDUP) – funded by the UK’s Department for International Development

Examples of outputs:

We have hosted several events with global partners including, for example, Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers report (2013), a recent symposium on the effects of obesity on maternal and neonatal health, and the launch of The Lancet Midwifery Series (2014).


Maternal and Newborn Health Group

The Maternal and Newborn Health Group (MNHG) in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiolgy was created in 1989. It carries out research to contribute to the international debate on key policy, measurement and evaluation issues related to the health of young children and their mothers. The group currently links with seven research consortia and partner with the UK and international collaborators who have established reputations in the field. For more information please visit MNHG website.