The Scope

Video: How a drug that could save the lives of millions of mothers was discovered

Tranexamic acid was discovered in post-war Japan. It may now be used to save women with post-partum haemorrhage.

Severe bleeding after childbirth or post-partum haemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal deaths around the world. About six per cent of all women who undergo childbirth experience post-partum haemorrhage. This blood loss of more than 500 ml within 24 hours of giving birth occurs among women in better developed and less developed countries. However, death from this kind of severe bleeding occurs much more among women in poor countries.

According to the United Nations, 77% of maternal deaths occur in 20 countries including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ethiopia. India has 45,000 maternal deaths in 2015 and post-partum haemorrhage was the leading cause. Many women in poor countries die of the condition simply because hospitals and medical facilities do not have enough blood at hand to replace the large volumes of blood that these patients lose.

A new drug could now save many of these lives because it is inexpensive, easily available and can be administered by a doctor, nurse or midwife. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have just concluded a large randomised controlled study to test a whether the drug tranexamic acid can stop post-partum haemorrhage. Tranexamic acid prevents blood clots from breaking down. It has been used in trauma procedures and has been found to save the lives of between 10% and 15% of trauma victims.

The World Maternal Antifibrinolytic or WOMAN trial recruited 20,000 mothers from 193 hospitals in 21 countries, in Africa, Asia and also in developed countries like the United Kingdom. The trial was funded by The Wellcome Trust, the UK Department of Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The researchers found that the use of tranexamic acid reduced the number of deaths from bleeding after childbirth by a third. Among the women who were given tranexamic acid within three hours of childbirth, 89 died from bleeding compared to 127 deaths among women given a placebo in addition to standard care. There were also no reported side effects from the drug for either mothers or babies. These findings suggest that tranexamic acid could be used as a frontline treatment for women in labour. The study has been published in the journal The Lancet.

Here is the story of how tranexamic acid, which has the potential to save the lives of millions of mothers, was first discovered by a husband and wife team in post-World War II Japan.

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Children's Day is not for children alone

It’s also a time for adults to revisit their childhood.

Most adults look at childhood wistfully, as a time when the biggest worry was a scraped knee, every adult was a source of chocolate and every fight lasted only till the next playtime. Since time immemorial, children seem to have nailed the art of being joyful, and adults can learn a thing or two about stress-free living from them. Now it’s that time of the year again when children are celebrated for...simply being children, and let it serve as a timely reminder for adults to board that imaginary time machine and revisit their childhood. If you’re unable to unbuckle yourself from your adult seat, here is some inspiration.

Start small, by doodling at the back page of your to-do diary as a throwback to that ancient school tradition. If you’re more confident, you could even start your own comic strip featuring people in your lives. You can caricaturise them or attribute them animal personalities for the sake of humour. Stuck in a boring meeting? Draw your boss with mouse ears or your coffee with radioactive powers. Just make sure you give your colleagues aliases.

Pull a prank, those not resulting in revenue losses of course. Prank calls, creeping up behind someone…pull them out from your memory and watch as everyone has a good laugh. Dress up a little quirky for work. It’s time you tried those colourful ties, or tastefully mismatched socks. Dress as your favourite cartoon characters someday – it’s as easy as choosing a ponytail-style, drawing a scar on your forehead or converting a bath towel into a cape. Even dinner can be full of childish fun. No, you don’t have to eat spinach if you don’t like it. Use the available cutlery and bust out your favourite tunes. Spoons and forks are good enough for any beat and for the rest, count on your voice to belt out any pitch. Better yet, stream the classic cartoons of your childhood instead of binge watching drama or news; they seem even funnier as an adult. If you prefer reading before bedtime, do a reread of your favourite childhood book(s). You’ll be surprised by their timeless wisdom.

A regular day has scope for childhood indulgences in every nook and cranny. While walking down a lane, challenge your friend to a non-stop game of hopscotch till the end of the tiled footpath. If you’re of a petite frame, insist on a ride in the trolley as you about picking items in the supermarket. Challenge your fellow gym goers and trainers to a hula hoop routine, and beat ‘em to it!

Children have an incredible ability to be completely immersed in the moment during play, and acting like one benefits adults too. Just count the moments of precious laughter you will have added to your day in the process. So, take time to indulge yourself and celebrate life with child-like abandon, as the video below shows.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.