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Now promising news for moms-to-be around the world. Doctors say they have found a drug that prevents deaths during childbirth. It could save tens of thousands of lives each year, especially in poor countries. NPR's Michaeleen Doucleff reports.
MICHAELEEN DOUCLEFF, BYLINE: Every two minutes, a woman around the world dies in childbirth. There are many reasons why, but the most common is blood loss. Dr. Rizwana Chaudhri is an OB-GYN in Pakistan. She tells The Lancet Journal that women bleed to death every day in clinics there.
RIZWANA CHAUDHRI: You can't even think of that in the developed world. But over here, this is an everyday thing, which goes on and on and on.
DOUCLEFF: For decades, doctors have known about a drug that could possibly help. It's inexpensive and widely available, but it hadn't been tested thoroughly. So an international team of doctors put together a massive study with 20,000 women across 21 countries.
Dr. Haleema Shakur at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine helped lead the trial. She tells The Lancet Journal, where the results appear, that after 10 years of work, they finally have very good news.
HALEEMA SHAKUR: The trial was a huge success.
DOUCLEFF: The drug called Tranexamic acid was shown to be safe for women. When it's given quickly after childbirth, it reduces the risk of bleeding to death by a third.
SHAKUR: We've shown it to be effective, that it can save lives. And I hope every single doctor who sees a woman with postpartum hemorrhage makes sure he or she considers using Tranexamic acid in that woman they're seeing.
DOUCLEFF: Many researchers praised the study. Felicia Lester is an OB-GYN at the University of California, San Francisco who also works in Uganda and Kenya. She says having a new way to help women during childbirth is quite rare.
FELICIA LESTER: I think it's exciting, actually, and I am usually cautious to say that kind of thing. But it has the potential to save lives.
DOUCLEFF: But she says there's still a huge challenge with this drug and that's getting it to the women who need it the most, those who live in poor remote corners of the world. Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR news.
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