Pregnancy :: Neoprene Suit Could Save Women’s Lives

A neoprene suit, similar to the bottom half of a diving wetsuit, can help save the lives of women suffering obstetrical bleeding during childbirth, a leading cause of death among women giving birth in developing nations.

“In our research, women who appeared clinically dead, with no blood pressure and no palpable pulse, were resuscitated and kept alive for up to two days while waiting for blood transfusions,” study director Suellen Miller, an international maternal health expert and director of the Safe Motherhood Programs at the University of California, San Francisco’s Global Health Imperative, said in a prepared statement.

Hemorrhaging accounts for about 30 percent of the more than 500,000 childbirth-related women’s deaths in the world each year.

Researchers conducted a pilot study of the non-pneumatic anti-shock garment (NASG) at different sites in Egypt. The suit consists of five segments that can be closed tightly with Velcro. The three-way stretch of the neoprene combined with the tight Velcro closures provides compression that can save the lives of women in shock due to obstetrical hemorrhaging.

The compression achieved by the garment moves blood from the lower extremities and abdominal area to the vital organs — heart, lungs, and brain. The suit can be easily applied by anyone, with no need for medical training.

This study included 158 obstetrical hemorrhage patients who had standard treatment and 206 patients who had standard treatment plus the NASG. The women treated with the NASG had a 50 percent decrease in blood loss and a 69 percent decrease in death and severe illness.

The study appears in the online edition of the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and will appear in the April print issue of the journal.

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