Death during childbirth as a consequence of unchecked postpartum haemorrhage is still a frighteningly real risk for many women, even though it can be readily prevented by a dose of the hormone oxytocin. This life-saving measure, which stems excessive blood loss, is largely confined to developed countries because oxytocin must be kept in cold storage and injected by trained staff using sterile syringes.
Monash University researchers have developed a new formulation of oxytocin that is stable at room temperature and resistant to degradation. The team has collaborated with healthcare workers and women in rural areas of developing countries to design an inhaler that can be used with minimal training. Making an oxytocin inhaler a standard part of every midwife's bag, or including one in a safe birthing kit for expectant mothers, could be the difference between life and death for hundreds of thousands of women.
The project has received funding and support from a number of organisations including the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
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