Alydia Health, a tiny Menlo Park, CA startup co-founded by a 21-year-old woman, announced it has secured $10 million in funding to test a medical device to prevent mothers from bleeding to death after childbirth.
There is, of course, no good time to die. But perhaps the worst possible time to die is immediately after giving birth to your baby.
New mothers in the US face a higher risk of death from childbirth than women in any other developed country. That hasn’t been true for very long. In 1990 the US was tied with France with 16.5 maternal deaths per 100,000 births. We were ahead of Germany’s rate of 20 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.
By 2015, declining maternal death rates in Germany and France enabled them to join Japan, England, Canada, and Sweden, with maternal mortality rates under 10 per 100,000 births.
In those same 25 years, maternity death rates in the US dramatically increased. In 2015, 26.4 American mothers died for every 100,000 births.
Why the increase in maternal mortality in the United States?
- Women are waiting longer to bear children, and their medical histories become correspondingly more complex.
- The increasing prevalence of Cesarean sections leads to higher risks of hemorrhage.
- The fragmented health system makes it more difficult for new mothers, who are often without adequate insurance, to get the care they need.
Researchers of the problem also emphasize the imbalance between the care devoted to infants and the attention focused on their mothers. As noted in an in-depth report on NPR, “In recent decades, under the assumption that it had conquered maternal mortality, the American medical system has focused more on fetal and infant safety and survival than on the mother’s health and well-being.”
A young woman attacks the problem of postpartum hemorrhaging
The primary cause of maternal mortality is uncontrolled postpartum bleeding, also known as postpartum hemorrhaging, or PPH.
70% of maternal deaths from PPH are preventable. And now a path to more effective prevention of postpartum bleeding has been opened. A young woman named Jessie Becker has developed a device that promises to significantly reduce the number of new mothers who unnecessarily bleed to death.
What causes postpartum bleeding?
After the uterus pushes out the infant and placenta, the uterus normally continues the contractions that expelled the baby. These ongoing contractions stop postpartum bleeding by compressing the bleeding vessels in the area where the placenta was attached. But sometimes things go wrong, and uncontrolled bleeding becomes a life-threatening emergency.
The most common cause of postpartum hemorrhage is a condition called uterine atony. It occurs when the uterine contractions stop too soon, or they are not sufficiently strong. Without the compressing force of the uterine contractions, the blood vessels continue their uncontrolled bleeding. Excessive blood loss can lead to a severe drop in the mother’s blood pressure. Unless promptly and effectively treated, PPH may result in death.
A brand-new approach to controlling PPH
In 2011, when Becker was a 21-year-old student at California Polytechnic University, she entered a startup business competition. Her entry featured a medical device consisting of a soft teardrop-shaped silicone loop connected to a wall vacuum. The device utilizes suction to collapse the uterus, and then stimulates the uterus to restart the contractions that inhibit bleeding.
Becker and her cofounder, Nathan Bair, raised $1.3 million in seed money to start a company called InPress Technologies (now known as Alydia Healthcare). Becker was featured on Forbes’ 2015 “30 Under 30 In Healthcare” list.
In 2016, Alydia initiated a prospective proof-of-concept investigation of its device. The results of that study were reported in the July 2016 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Ten women who suffered from postpartum bleeding that could not be not stopped by standard therapies were treated with the Alydia device.
The study’s abstract states: “In all ten cases, the uterus collapsed and regained tone within minutes, and hemorrhaging was controlled.”
The success of the proof-of-concept study generated an additional $10 million investment in Alydia
The new funding enabled Alydia to start a clinical trial of 107 participants. It’s currently underway at hospitals in New Jersey, New York, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. The study began in September 2017 and its estimated completion date is November of 2019.
Once again, we are amazed and impressed by the ingenuity and drive of young medical scientists. Jessie Becker may well have created a device that will save thousands of women’s lives worldwide. We’ll keep you posted on the progress of Alydia. Let me know what you think! Thaïs
About Dr. Thais Aliabadi
As one of the nation’s leading OB-GYNs, Dr. Thaïs Aliabadi offers the very best in gynecological and obstetric care. Together with her warm professional team, Dr. Aliabadi supports women through all phases of life. She fosters a special one-on-one relationship between patient and doctor. We invite you to establish care with Dr. Aliabadi. Please click here to make an appointment or call us at (844) 863-6700.
Read the full article at: www.forbes.com