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International Health

Professor Joanne Katz Wins Data for Life Prize

Katz will test the feasibility of community-based portable ultrasound use to reduce intrapartum-related fetal and neonatal death in rural Sarlahi District, Nepal

Katz and Kazuki in Nepal
Naoko Kozuki (left) and Professor Joanne Katz in Nepal where they will test the feasibility of portable ultrasound use by community-based health workers to reduce stillbirths and early neonatal deaths

CappSci awarded one of two $50,000 Data for Life Prizes to Dr. Joanne Katz to study the use of portable ultrasound for expecting mothers in rural Nepal. Home births are very common in much of Nepal and around 50 million women around the world still deliver at home. Portable ultrasound machines can detect risk factors during the third trimester that might otherwise go unnoticed when regular antenatal clinic visits are not the norm. Therefore, the study will train community-based health workers to detect several risk factors of intrapartum-related neonatal, fetal, and maternal death. Detecting these risk factors during home visits, would allow women to seek appropriate care and prepare for medical facility-based deliveries.  

Naoko Kozuki, a doctoral student in the Department of International Health, has been working in Nepal to plan for, manage the day-to-day operations of the project, and oversee the training of entry-level nurse midwives on the use of portable ultrasounds. The goal will be to examine the sensitivity and specificity with which the nurse midwives are able to detect conditions that may lead to delivery complications, as well as to compare the early neonatal mortality and stillbirth rates between those who received an ultrasound exam through the study and a separate comparable group.

Assuming roughly 30% of intrapartum-related perinatal deaths are attributable to non-cephalic presentation or twinning, the intervention could save roughly 600,000 pregnancies annually worldwide from stillbirth or early neonatal death. In addition, it is estimated that 233,000 babies annually experience moderate or severe neuro-developmental impairment (including cerebral palsy) and 181,000 babies experience mild impairment from neonatal encephalopathy associated with intrapartum-events.  If we use the same 30% number as above, 124,000 additional newborns may be saved from impairment annually if interventions such as this one are brought to scale.