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HEALTH

Fear of childbirth leads to longer labour: study

Pregnant women with a fear of childbirth need about an hour and a half more to bring their babies into the world than mums who take a more relaxed approach, a new Norwegian study has found.

Fear of childbirth leads to longer labour: study
Photo: Simona Balint (File)

Researchers at Akershus University Hospital made their findings after monitoring 2,206 pregnant women who planned to have natural births, medical news site Dagens Medisin reports.

The researchers tracked the women from the 32nd week of their pregnancies right up until they gave birth.

Some 7.5 percent of the respondents, who each filled out a detailed questionnaire, were found to fear giving birth. The study found that these women took an average of one hour and 32 minutes longer to give birth than the other budding mothers.     

Mums gripped by the fear factor spent an average of eight hours in labour, compared to six hours and 28 minutes for women who scored below 85 on the Wijma Delivery Expectancy Questionnaire.

“We reasoned that birth anxiety can affect the length of the birth in two different ways,” study co-author Samantha Salvesen Adams told Dagens Medisin.

“Birth anxiety can increase stress hormone levels. During the birth, an elevated stress hormone level can reduce contraction frequency, thereby delaying the birth.

“In addition, or alternatively, we believe that anxiety during a birth can affect communication between the woman giving birth and healthcare personnel, with possible consequences for the childbirth process,” said Adams.

Just over half of the women were first-time mothers, while the average age of participants was 30.9 years.

The study was first published last week in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.

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HEALTH

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens ‘among new infections’

Two teenage boys between the ages of 15-17 have reportedly been infected by monkeypox, as the number of cases in Germany continues to grow.

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens 'among new infections'

German news site Spiegel Online first reported the new cases – which are an anomaly for a virus as it has mostly affected gay men – following an inquiry to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

They are among a total of 2,677 people who are confirmed to have contracted the virus in Germany to date. There have not been any fatalities.

Out of these, only five cases were women, according to the RKI. The public health institute said that it does not release information on individual cases.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany wants to contain the monkeypox

The disease – which is not usually fatal – often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions and droplets of a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding and towels.

Many of the cases known so far concern homosexual and bisexual men. However, affected people and experts have repeatedly warned against stigmatising gay communities.

How fatal is the disease?

The first monkeypox cases were reported in Germany on May 20th, as the disease continued to spread in West Europe.

At the weekend, the first two deaths outside of West Africa were reported in Spain.

READ ALSO: WHO warns ‘high’ risk of monkeypox in Europe as it declares health emergency

The RKI has urged people returning from West Africa and in particular gay men, to see their doctors quickly if they notice any chances on their skin.

According to the latest estimates, there are 23,000 monkeypox cases worldwide, and Europe is particularly affected with 14,000 cases.

There have been 2,677 monkeypox cases in Germany as of August 2, 2022. Photo: CDC handout

About eight percent of patients in Europe have been hospitalised so far, reported the World Health Association on Monday, mostly due to severe pain or additional infections.

In general, the mortality of the variant currently circulating in Europe is estimated to be low.

READ ALSO: More cases of monkeypox ‘expected’ in Germany

Will a vaccine make a difference?

Since July, a vaccine has been authorised in 27 EU member states and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against monkeypox in Germany for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people.

So far, the German government has ordered 240,000 vaccine doses, of which 40,000 had been delivered by Friday. 

Around 200,000 doses are set to follow by the end of September. 

The German Aids Federation (DAH) on Friday called for one million vaccine doses, stressing that the current supplies will fall short of meeting need.

“The goal must be to reduce the number of infections as quickly as possible and to get the epidemic permanently under control,” explained Ulf Kristal of the DAH board in Berlin on Friday.

But this is only possible, he said, if as many people at risk of infection as possible are vaccinated.

“We don’t assume the epidemic will be over when the doses available so far have been vaccinated,” Axel Jeremias Schmidt, Epidemiologist and DAH Consultant for Medicine and Health Policy, wrote in a press release.

As long as there are monkeypox infections, he said, people who are at risk must be offered vaccination. 

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