Fistula risk 'continuing in developing world'

Fistulae continue to pose severe health risks to mothers in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, it has been reported.

According to the New York Times, up to two million women and girls in the developing world still suffer from this injury despite being conquered in the west over 100 years ago.

Obstetric fistulae – holes which lead to urine streaming through the vagina – are caused by obstructed labours, where the infant is too large or in the wrong position to pass through the mother's pelvis.

The condition, which is particularly common among women who become pregnant before their bodies are ready, can be life-threatening for both mother and child.

Prolonged labour can lead to the mother's bladder, uterus and vagina being crushed between the pelvic bone and the infant's skull.

Speaking to the newspaper, Jeffery Wilkinsin of Duke University, US, says that women in Africa with fistula are often outcast as a result of the odour caused by injury.

Worse however, he says: "If you find patients with fistula, you'll also find that mothers and babies are dying left and right."

Obstetric fistulae can be cured through surgery, which has a success rate of around 90 per cent.