Promising results in innovative birthing device trial

January 08 2021

An innovative childbirth device aimed at reducing harm to mothers and babies across the world is being successfully tested at Southmead Hospital, Bristol.
In the UK about one in eight women require assistance to give birth to their baby at the end of labour.  Until now this has had to be performed using either forceps or ventouse (also known as a ‘suction cup’).
The ‘Odon Device’ has been designed as an alternative to forceps or ventouse. It works by inflating a circular air chamber - similar to a swimming rubber ring - around the baby’s head which enables the doctor to gently guide the baby through the mother’s birth canal. The device was invented by an Argentinean car mechanic, Jorge Odon, who based the idea on a party trick to extract a loose cork from inside an empty bottle.
Initial testing of the device was carried out by the World Health Organisation in Argentina and South Africa. This was followed by further simulation work at Southmead Hospital.
The Odon Device was used for the first time with 40 women who required an assisted vaginal birth as part of the ASSIST Study conducted at Southmead Hospital. The world’s first birth using the Odon Device on a baby who needed assistance was performed at Southmead Hospital in 2018.
Following the success of the ASSIST Study, a second study ASSIST II is now being conducted at Southmead Hospital and a sister study, Besançon ASSIST, is also under way in France. After a brief pause for Covid-19, the maternity research team are again asking women who may need an assisted birth at the end of their labour if they would like to take part in the ASSIST II Study.  Women can contact the Maternity Research Team at Southmead Hospital for more information on ASSIST@nbt.nhs.uk
Dr Jo Crofts, consultant obstetrician, Southmead Hospital and principal  investigator of the ASSIST II study, said: “Most areas of medicine have moved on light years since the 1950s, but in maternity there have been no new methods of assisting childbirth since the introduction of the ventouse in the 1950s.  We have had the pleasure of working alongside the World Health Organisation and the Odon design team to see if we could introduce this new innovation into clinical practice, in a programme of work supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Assisted vaginal birth can be a lifesaving intervention for both mothers and babies, but sadly across the world many women and their babies do not have access to an assisted vaginal birth when it is required.  Although in its early stages of clinical development, this exciting but simple new device has the potential to reduce trauma and save lives.
 “Many women here in Bristol have been keen to take part as they know it could really help many millions of other women around the world in less fortunate circumstances.”
 To find out more about the ASSIST II Study see: www.nbt.nhs.uk/ASSISTII