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The Cochrane Library is a readily accessible and frequently updated source of evidence-based summaries to guide care practices. Over the past 15 years, clinicians and consumers have collaborated to generate several hundred Cochrane reviews of a range of therapies relevant to pregnancy and perinatal health. These reviews have influenced practice in several key areas. Randomised controlled trials of perinatal healthcare interventions are difficult to undertake and consequently often underpowered to exclude modest effects. Cochrane reviews that synthesise data from several trials allow a more precise estimation of effect size. This has proved particularly important in defining the effect of infrequent, though clinically important long-term outcomes. The results of Cochrane reviews have also been used to inform future research strategies, some of which have generated new evidence from large trials. Future challenges for the Cochrane Collaboration included developing more user-friendly interfaces and extending the relevance of reviews to perinatal care in middle- and low-income settings.
“It is surely a great criticism of our profession that we have not organized a critical summary, by specialty or subspecialty, adapted periodically, of all relevant randomised controlled trials” (Archie Cochrane 1979)1
In response to Archie Cochrane’s challenge, systematic summaries of all available randomised controlled trials relevant to pregnancy, childbirth, and care of the newborn infant were collated in two seminal textbooks: Effective care in pregnancy and childbirth (published in 1989) and Effective care of the newborn infant (published in 1992).2 3 These pioneering efforts were the forerunners of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews – an electronic library of systematically prepared, regularly updated, high-quality summaries of evidence of the effects of interventions on clinically relevant outcomes. The Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group and Cochrane Neonatal Group were among the first established entities within the Cochrane Collaboration. Since the mid-1990s, hundreds of clinicians and …
Competing interests Roger Soll is co-ordinating editor, and William McGuire is feedback editor of the Cochrane Neonatal Review Group.
Provenance and Peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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