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Last month was World Breastfeeding Week, which is a social media campaign designed to raise awareness of the importance and benefits of children’s healthy development and how breast milk plays a vital role in it. This was not a surprise of groundbreaking news to most of us, especially in light of the oodles of articles focused on the constant stigma and body-shaming often directed at nursing mothers. (Yes, we’re looking at you Donald Trump). But what we should also promote are the economic benefits a family can receive by simply opting to forgo formula. Let’s take a quick look at both the health and financial gains.
The current recommendation is breastfeeding within the first hour, exclusively breastfeeding (meaning nothing but breastmilk) for the first six months, and continued breastfeeding with complementary foods up to two years or more. It was estimated that 800,000 newborn lives can be saved annually from following these procedures, for a variety of reasons. Breastmilk contains vitamins and antibodies to help fight off viruses and infection. It reduces the risk of allergies, asthma, ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and diarrhea. It also supports healthy growth weight and lowers the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Breastfeeding impacts can be equally as important for the mother. An estimated 20,000 maternal lives can be saved annually from breastfeeding. The diseases that account for the majority of these deaths are breast cancer and...
If you have seen anything from Maternova in the last few weeks, you have probably seen that we launched a line of fashionable, low-cost clothing embedded with nanotechnology to protect against mosquitoes. This was the result of months of brainstorming, researching, and testing different Zika solutions. It is clear why we would choose to get involved with the Zika response – Zika is a huge threat to pregnant women and their unborn babies, as it has been linked with severe birth defects. However, a clothing line is not the most obvious solution. If you are wondering why Maternova is tackling Zika with protective apparel, this is the article for you.
Reason #1: Girls and women need multiple forms of protection against Zika
Sure, other Zika solutions are being tested and deployed. Vaccinations are in the works, and there are the more traditional solutions such as bed nets and mosquito coils. We do not see these as competition, but a complement for the clothing line. Girls and women need multiple layers of protection, especially while solutions are in different stages of development.
Reason #2: Women and girls in low-resource settings are outside, getting water, washing clothes, at risk of Zika
While Zika is a public health emergency in many parts of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, it does not put life on hold. Many women in lower-resource areas spend a lot of time in and around water for a variety...
We have recently stumbled across an innovative aid to pregnant refugees that we could not keep to ourselves: an app called HaBaby.
While maternal health has been of constant importance in the sphere of women’s rights, the topics and risks within maternal health evolve with the evolving world. This evolution means different populations are at increased risk for poor maternal health outcomes. Today, the staggering number of displaced persons and refugees is a huge population lacking sufficient maternal and newborn health resources. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are currently 65.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, 21.3 million of who are refugees.
Conflict settings and displacement greatly impact the health of mothers and newborns. “Over 60 percent of the world’s maternal deaths occur in 10 countries, nine of which are currently experiencing or emerging from conflict,” reports the Women’s Refugee Commission. This is true for a number of reasons. Conflict settings and displacement put women at an increased risk for sexual abuse and violence, which can lead to unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions. Health systems in refugee settings are often unequipped to provide complete antenatal and postnatal care. Furthermore, it is usually difficult for women to receive information that is reliable and specific to their needs during pregnancy.
This lack of access to reliable information was the driving force...
Sexually Transmitted Infections are harmful in across populations, but can have especially devastating effects during pregnancy. Screening is essential during the first trimester for what we have identified as the "Big 5 STIs": chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and Hepatitis B. The unique effects of each of these diseases on pregnancy will be explained below.
Pregnant women with chlamydia hold a higher risk for birth complications. These include miscarriage, premature birth, and stillbirth. The disease can also be transmitted vertically during birth. Treatment for chlamydia is approved in pregnant women, and treatment before delivery erases the risk of transmission.
In 2012, the estimated global prevalence of chlamydia among women 15-49 was 4.2% (Newman et al 2012). Chlamydia is prevalent all over the world. It is more likely to develop in most of Africa and Asia due to lack of detection and treatment, but rates of infection are just as high in many parts of the world.
Gonorrhea in pregnancy is linked with higher rates of miscarriage, amniotic sac infection, preterm birth, premature rupture of membranes, and severe eye infection passed to the baby during delivery, which can lead to blindness. Gonorrhea is safe to treat with antibiotics during pregnancy.
The estimated global prevalence of gonorrhea in 2012 among women 15-49 was 0.8% (Newman et al 2012). Rates are highest in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia...
We often do not think about what we cannot see, but in some cases we do not think about what we can see, and more importantly WHY we can see – power.
It is no secret that the world is unequal. Most people are aware of at least some of these inequalities; for instance, almost everyone knows that the global burden of disease falls harder in Sub-Saharan Africa than Western Europe. Some inequalities, however, are less obvious and less discussed. Access to power is trivial in most developed countries, yet remains a major barrier to development in many impoverished nations.
According to ONE.org, 7 out of 10 people living in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity. Furthermore, 30% of health centers and schools function without electricity, making the barrier to effective health and education delivery even stronger. This was consistent with our findings from a needs survey of different providers around the world. Many rural clinics or hospitals reported functioning with either inconsistent or no power. This was our motivation for finding and joining forces with the newest partner of the Maternova team: Goal Zero.
Through Goal Zero, we are now offering portable power and lighting devices. This includes hand-crank lighting devices and a solar-powered recharging device. With these tools, we ensure that USB rechargeable medical devices, including the CRADLE Vital Signs Alert by Microlife, can always be ready for use, despite fluctuating or...
An essential component of working in the maternal and neonatal health field is staying up to date on the rapidly evolving research. We do this through a variety of outlets; social media is a vital tool, and press releases or news stories are always useful sources. Another way for us to stay informed is by attending talks by experts in the field. This is how we found out about recent research on the adverse birth outcomes of ARV use during pregnancy.
ARV use during pregnancy has been proven again and again to be an efficient method for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. In fact, proper ARV treatment throughout the stages of pregnancy, labor, delivery, and breastfeeding decreases the risk of transmission from as high as 45% to below 5%. In the presence of such evidence, the WHO now recommends providing lifelong Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) to all pregnant women regardless of CD4 count. However, evidence has begun to surface regarding the adverse effects of this life-saving treatment.
A number of recent studies have been conducted to examine the effects of ARV treatment on pregnancy. The results have been mixed. Most of the studies have been done in developed countries or with very small sample sizes, so their results cannot necessarily be extended to the populations where we at Maternova are most involved with PMTCT. This aside, two recent studies conducted in Botswana and Tanzania have found a correlation between HAART...
As healthcare professionals, thought leaders, and innovators converge on Copenhagen, Denmark for 'Women Deliver', the team at Maternova honor all the work done by champions for women globally. We want to reflect back on a year of accomplishment and success for those who work tirelessly to provide women a better world. This past year has seen many triumphs including a reduction in maternal mortality in many key countries. But, we can’t overlook the preponderance of evidence that suggests we can still do so much better. And it is in that spirit, and solemn remembrance that we offer this piece.
In March of 2016, the public consciousness was rocked by the grim sight of a young mother, lying dead outside a hospital in Douala, Cameroon. Her pilgrimage to receive medical care for herself and her unborn twins ended tragically. This was not a death resulting from unpreventable circumstance, rather she died after being refused care based on her inability to pay. As an amateur video surfaced, likely shot with a cell phone, of a frantic family member heroically trying to cut the babies from their mother’s womb, remote viewers the world over called for immediate action and investigation into this horrific event that sadly is all too common in developing countries. Her name was Koumate...
News, Prizes and Mentions
- Maternova named Female Founder of the week for anti-Zika apparel
- Featured in Forbes for our innovative approach to Zika
- Maternova, Inc. and Goal Zero Partner to Offer Innovative Power and Lighting Solutions in Medical Markets Worldwide
- Maternova, Inc. Signs Partnership With Microlife Corporation, LLC
- Maternova Selected as the Winner of InnovateHer Rhode Island!
- The Business of Saving Lives: An Interview with Maternova Co-Founder Allyson Cote
- Maternova, Inc and Pratt Pouch Consulting Launch the Pratt Pouch, a Powerful Weapon Against HIV Transmission
- Maternova Featured in a Global Motherhood Segment on Huffington Post Live
- Six Women Who are Disrupting the Startup World with Social Change by Craig Newmark of Craig's List-- Mentioning Maternova!
- #SheBuilds Social Businesses and How we can Help-- op ed by Leith Greenslade--Mentioning Maternova
- GLYDE Condoms and Maternova, Inc. Are Giving You a New Reason to Love Condoms
- Read one of our latest contributions to the ONE Anti-Poverty Campaign focused on energy poverty and the impact on childbirth