A re-usable, lightweight suit could help save the lives of thousands
of women in poor countries who die each year during childbirth,
researchers said on Monday.

The garment, which resembles the
bottom half of a wetsuit, restores blood flow to vital organs in women
in shock and suffering from obstetrical haemorrhaging, or bleeding,
during the birth.

In a pilot study of 364 women in Egypt, the
non-pneumatic, anti-shock garment, or NASG, reduced death and severe
illness by 69 percent, according to the researchers.

results are dramatic, particularly given that the NASG can be easily
applied by anyone. No medical training is necessary," said Suellen
Miller, a maternal health expert at the University of California, San
Francisco who conducted the study.

Haemorrhaging is a leading
cause of maternal deaths. About 30 percent of the more than 500,000
mostly poor women who die during childbirth each year suffer from

Women in poor countries often give birth at home
with little or no trained assistance. When a woman haemorrhages, blood
accumulates in the legs and abdomen depriving the brain, heart and
lungs of oxygen.

The suit, which consists of five segments with
Velcro, pushes blood from the lower parts of the body back to the vital
organs. It is designed to keep a woman alive until she can be treated
in hospital.

Miller and her team said that within minutes of
applying the suit, the women regained consciousness and their vital
signs returned to normal.