Injection looks to stop labor and delivery blood loss

Severe bleeding during childbirth causes a number of deaths every year, but a trial is underway to hopefully lower those fatalities.

Woman in labor and delivery room.

Severe bleeding during childbirth is one of the leading causes of pregnancy mortality in the U.S. An injection that is given directly into muscle instead of veins could be key to preventing these complications. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of reported pregnancy-related deaths in the United States was 17.6 out of 100,000 live births in 2019. Those figures have increased over the last three decades. 

From 2017-19, 12.1% of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. were caused by blood loss. 

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine hope to reduce those numbers. 

A study recently published by the school indicates that an intramuscular injection of a drug called TXA can stop hemorrhaging within 10 minutes. The authors say it could be a potential alternative to current intravenous approaches. 

The researchers also examined an oral version of the shot, but found it took an hour to stop hemorrhaging. 

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The Phase 2 study included women in Pakistan and Zambia. They found the injections were “well tolerated” and had “no serious side effects.”

They say intravenous injections are not as practical when childbirth occurs in rural or home settings. The authors say this could have a profound impact in developing nations where access to hospitals is more scarce. 

“In many low-and middle-income countries, women do not give births in health care facilities, so if TXA can be given just as successfully intramuscularly as via intravenous injection, this could be of huge significance to the thousands of women who die every year from (postpartum hemorrhage),” study co-author Haleema Shakur-Still said in a statement.

The researchers hope to begin a Phase 3 study in August to determine whether intramuscular injections can be just as effective as intravenous ones.

“The intramuscular route will be very helpful in Pakistan,” said study co-author Rizwana Chaudhri. “With some patients who are experiencing a PPH, it is difficult to get an intravenous line established, so anything that can reduce PPH will be useful. In some cases, it will be the first and last choice.”