Premature Birth | Treatment and Causes | Action Medical Research | Action Medical Research

Premature birth and baby development

Around 61,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK every year. Premature birth is the biggest killer of babies in the UK. Tragically, around 1,200 babies die here each year after being born too soon. Many others who survive a very early birth develop lifelong problems such as cerebral palsy, blindness and learning difficulties. Despite these dangers, little is known about why some women go into labour too soon.

Little baby Samuel, pictured with mum Jo, arrived 10 weeks early and weighed a tiny 3lbs 6oz at birth.

We are funding research to help find the causes of premature birth and develop new treatments.

Can special play activities help premature babies with learning?

Research date: 1 November 2017 - 31 October 2020
Grant amount: £134,594.00

Estimates suggest that around 9,000 babies are born very prematurely, before 32 weeks of pregnancy, every year in the UK.1-4 While better care has improved these vulnerable babies’ chances of surviving, their early arrival puts them at risk of developing a range of lifelong problems, including learning difficulties. Dr Ruth Ford of Anglia Ruskin...

Premature birth: predicting who’s at risk

Research date: 1 January 2017 - 30 April 2018
Grant amount: £91,171.00

Premature birth and its complications are the leading cause of death among children under five years of age across the world.1 Tragically, over 1,000 babies die in the UK each year after being born too soon.2-4 Babies who survive a very early birth are at risk of developing lifelong problems such as cerebral palsy, blindness and learning difficulties....

Necrotising enterocolitis: protecting newborn babies from this life-threatening bowel problem

Research date: 1 January 2017 - 31 December 2017
Grant amount: £26,262.00

Evidence suggests hundreds of babies develop a serious bowel problem called necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) each year in the UK.1-6 Babies with NEC need urgent treatment, often involving emergency surgery. Sadly, many babies with NEC lose their lives and some of those who survive suffer long-term complications, such as persistent bowel problems, poor...

Pregnancy: detecting complications earlier so women can get help sooner

Research date: 1 March 2016 - 31 October 2017
Grant amount: £158,886.00

Up to six per cent of pregnant women develop a mild form of a condition called pre-eclampsia.1 Severe pre-eclampsia occurs in around one to two per cent of pregnancies, putting the lives of both mothers and babies at risk.1 Sadly, an estimated 1,000 babies die each year because of pre-eclampsia.2,3 Mr Christoph Lees, of London’s Queen Charlotte'...

Premature birth: delaying early labour

Research date: 1 March 2016 - 1 November 2019
Grant amount: £189,886.00

Around 60,000 babies are born prematurely every year in the UK.1-5 Tragically, around 1,200 of these babies die4-6 Many others who survive a very early birth develop lifelong disabilities. Treatment with a hormone called progesterone can reduce a woman’s risk of giving birth early, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Professor Mark Johnson, of...

Premature birth: tackling children’s difficulties with maths at school

Research date: 4 August 2015 - 3 August 2018
Grant amount: £217,490.00

Around 16,000 babies are born very prematurely, before 32 weeks of pregnancy, each year in the UK.1-4 Being born this early puts children at high risk of experiencing learning difficulties, particularly in maths, but many teachers feel ill equipped to help. Dr Samantha Johnson, of the University of Leicester, is studying teenagers who were born very...

Premature birth: predicting which women might go into labour too soon

Research date: 1 April 2014 - 30 August 2016
Grant amount: £156,036.00

Research Training Fellowship*: Dr Joanna Cook Over 60,000 babies are born prematurely every year in the UK.1-3 Tragically, around 1,300 of these babies die4-6 Many others who survive a very early birth develop lifelong disabilities. Despite these dangers, we can’t always tell which women will go into labour too soon. Dr Joanna Cook, of Imperial...

Twin-twin transfusion syndrome: developing a new way to help babies who are struggling in the womb

Research date: 1 January 2014 - 31 July 2016
Grant amount: £102,258.00

Estimates suggest that around 10 per cent of identical twins develop a serious condition called twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), which strikes while babies are in the womb.1-3 This condition can be very dangerous for babies, causing premature birth, death and disability. Dr Christoph Lees, of Queen Charlottes’s and Chelsea Hospital, Imperial...

Premature birth: how to stop women from going into labour too soon

Research date: 22 April 2014 - 21 April 2017
Grant amount: £183,040.00

Over 60,000 babies are born prematurely every year in the UK.1-4 Tragically, premature birth is the biggest killer of babies in the UK, with nearly 1,400 babies dying each year after being born too soon.5-7 Many others who survive a very early birth develop lifelong disabilities. Despite these dangers, little is known about why some women go into labour...

Premature birth: why are premature babies at increased risk of developing ADHD?

Research date: 4 March 2013 - 3 March 2016
Grant amount: £169,944.00

Over 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK every year.1-4 These babies are at increased risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other psychiatric problems, including anxiety, social difficulties and autism. Professor Jonna Kuntsi and her team, of King’s College London, are investigating why. Their work...

Premature birth: could a natural antioxidant protect vulnerable babies?

Research date: 16 January 2012 - 15 January 2015
Grant amount: £192,431.00

Tragically, around 1,500 babies die in the UK each year after being born too soon.1-3,a,b Many others who survive a very early birth develop lifelong problems such as cerebral palsy, blindness and learning difficulties. Many of the complications that premature babies face are thought to result from a sudden increase in oxygen levels that occurs after...

Premature birth and induced labour: boosting understanding gives new hope

Research date: 1 January 2012 - 12 December 2015
Grant amount: £195,773.00

Around one in 20 pregnancies worldwide ends with the mother going into labour too soon and having her baby prematurely.1 In contrast, one in every five pregnant women has to have labour induced.2 A dire lack of understanding of the natural processes that control labour and childbirth is limiting our ability to help. Professor Andrés López...

Premature birth - does inflammation hold clues to delaying labour?

Research date: 8 August 2011 - 30 September 2015
Grant amount: £192,936.00

Each week in the UK, more than 25 babies die after being born prematurely.1-3,a,b Many others who survive a very early birth develop lifelong disabilities. Around 40 per cent of premature births happen when expectant mothers go into labour too soon, typically without warning.4 Researchers are investigating the link between inflammation and premature...

Other related information

Dedicated to Daniel

Posted: 27 March 2017 15:09 pm
Charlie Paterson has been one of our most loyal runners over the last decade and his various costumes have ensured he’s popped up on TV screens too. His reason for running remains the same – to help babies like his son, who was born too soon. Charlie, from Hull, first ran the Great North Run for Action Medical Research back in 2008, dressed...

Kent mum supports research to develop simple new test to identify women at risk of premature labour

Posted: 15 November 2016 09:35 am
Researchers at University College London Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health have the go ahead to start work developing a new, simple test to identify early on in pregnancy women who are at risk of premature labour. The study has been made possible with a grant of £91,171 from children’s charity Action Medical Research....

Delaying early labour, saving babies’ lives

Posted: 12 September 2016 15:21 pm
Premature babies are incredibly vulnerable. Sadly, some don’t survive. A new treatment is being tested that could help prolong pregnancy in women at risk of giving birth too soon. Premature birth is the biggest killer of babies in the UK. Tragically, around 1,200 babies die here each year after being born too soon. Many who survive develop...

Dad gets set to run Great North Run in Paddington Bear costume

Posted: 8 September 2016 14:39 pm
A father from Hull is getting ready to run in a Paddington BearTM suit when he competes in the Great North Run for the sixth time in memory of his son Daniel. Charlie Paterson, 45, will don the costume for the 13.1-mile race in Newcastle upon Tyne on Sunday, 11 September, to raise funds for Action Medical Research, PaddingtonTM’s favourite UK...

Special deliveries - Emily's story

Posted: 19 April 2016 09:02 am
During a seemingly normal second pregnancy, Tracy was shocked when a routine antenatal check found worrying signs of pre-eclampsia. She was admitted to hospital straight away and further tests revealed both mother and baby were at serious risk. Doctors quickly decided they had to deliver tiny baby Emily early. At 14 months old, Emily is happy, lively...

Premature daughters inspire father to ride for a reason

Posted: 24 March 2016 13:49 pm
A Northamptonshire dad has been inspired by his premature twins to take to two wheels and ride for a reason in aid of children’s charity Action Medical Research. Malcolm Vincent, from Ringstead near Kettering, will be taking part in RideLondon-Surrey 100 on Sunday, 31 July, to raise money to save and change the lives of sick and disabled...

It’s a family affair as brothers prepare for London Marathon

Posted: 11 December 2015 11:10 am
Three brothers are getting ready to run for a reason by tackling next year’s Virgin London Marathon in aid of children’s charity Action Medical Research. The trio have kicked off their training programme after gaining places on the world-famous event on 24 April 2016. And it’s a family affair with Will, Ferg and George Bostock...

Saving baby Samuel, born too soon

Posted: 21 April 2015 14:23 pm
When Jo was admitted to hospital for emergency surgery 29 weeks into her pregnancy, nobody knew what the outcome would be for mother or baby. Thankfully, Jo and husband Will are now the proud parents of Samuel, who survived being born at just 30 weeks. At three months old, Samuel is still quite small but is doing well. For Jo and Will, visiting...

HIGH FIVE!

Posted: 2 March 2015 11:26 am
Supporter takes on Five Challenges in Five weeks for children’s charity Norfolk based Elgan Hallett has always been relatively fit and enjoyed exercise but it wasn’t until he lost his daughter, Seren, who was born prematurely last July, that he decided to do something active to support the children’s charity Action Medical...

Harry inspires team to tackle London to Paris cycle ride

Posted: 10 November 2014 12:11 pm
Up until around five years ago, Chris Hollister admits that he was ‘unfit, a smoker and a couch potato’. That all changed when his partner Catherine fell pregnant – he stopped smoking and started jogging regularly, gradually increasing his fitness. Then everything came to a crashing halt for nearly eight months as tragedy struck......

A helping hand for mums at risk of giving birth too early

Posted: 21 March 2012 16:10 pm
Premature birth is the biggest killer of babies under one in the UK and survivors are often left with lifelong disabilities. To date there’s been no sure way to identify mums and babies most at risk, so Action funded scientists at Kings College London to research possible indicators which may help predict premature birth. With some premature...

Testing begins: pioneering study explores links between being born early and difficulties with maths

Posted: 21 February 2012 17:06 pm
Around 160 schoolchildren from London and Leicestershire are taking part in a pioneering study, funded by Action Medical Research, to try to understand the links between being born very prematurely and struggling with mathematics. Over 10,000 babies are born very prematurely (more than eight weeks early), each year in the UK. Sadly, many go on to...

Investing £1.3 million in research for sick children and babies

Posted: 11 January 2012 17:01 pm
Action Medical Research – the leading UK-wide medical research charity dedicated to helping babies and children – has today announced grants worth more than £1.3 million for top researchers across the country. The charity has been supporting significant medical breakthroughs for nearly 60 years, and today announced its latest round of...

Preventing premature birth

Posted: 29 September 2011 15:27 pm
Your support has helped further understanding about the causes of premature birth. Research teams in London and Edinburgh have conducted studies funded by Action Medical Research looking at different proteins and found results that could lead to new treatments. Over 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK every year. Tragically, around 1,500 of...

Preventing early labour and protecting premature babies from brain damage

Posted: 31 May 2011 10:50 am
Researchers are investigating a possible new treatment which could stop women from going into labour too soon and protect their vulnerable babies from brain damage, thanks to a grant from children’s charity Action Medical Research.

Over 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK every year. Premature birth is the biggest killer of...

Researchers developing new sensor for premature babies

Posted: 19 May 2011 13:46 pm
Researchers in Birmingham and Bristol are working to develop a brand new sensor which could be used in neonatal units to detect a devastating condition which affects premature babies, before it makes them seriously ill, thanks to funding from children’s charity Action Medical Research.Each year in the UK, around 3,000 babies develop a serious bowel problem...

Breakthrough holds promise of helping to stop premature birth

Posted: 5 April 2011 10:29 am
Researchers at King’s College and St George’s University London have identified a new way of suppressing uterine muscle contractions which could lead to novel treatments to help stop premature birth. The research funded by children’s health charity Action Medical Research, baby charity Tommy’s and King’s College London...

Touching Tiny Lives: tackling big problems for little babies

Posted: 28 March 2011 13:58 pm
Over 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK every year. Tragically, 1,500 of them die and those that survive can be left with lifelong conditions. Many more babies suffer debilitating illnesses or survive pregnancy complications that can leave them disabled. Action Medical Research’s Touching Tiny Lives appeal aimed to tackle the problem of...

Key step forward in search for treatment to prevent premature labour

Posted: 15 February 2011 13:14 pm
Researchers funded by children’s charity Action Medical Research, have made an important step forward in the search for a novel treatment to help prevent premature birth.About 60,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the UK[i] and those born very early are at risk of dying, or developing serious disabilities.The research team from the Institute of...

Funding research to help sick babies – Baby Loss Awareness Day

Posted: 18 October 2010 10:29 am
Children’s health charity Action Medical Research is highlighting the importance of research into pregnancy complications and finding the best ways to care for sick and vulnerable babies to mark Baby Loss Awareness Day this Friday (October 15).

The charity has recently funded grants worth more than £800,000 for top researchers...

Proteins identified to help prevent preterm delivery

Posted: 4 October 2010 10:08 am
A lack of understanding about what starts labour and which proteins are involved in controlling contractions have hindered efforts to stop premature births. But doctors now understand more about what causes preterm delivery thanks to a project funded by Action Medical Research.Dr Joanne Lymn and her team have identified two proteins, phospholipase...

Walk for Tiny Lives this summer to help premature babies

Posted: 31 May 2010 23:00 pm
Children’s health charity Action Medical Research is launching Walk for Tiny Lives this summer, a series of fun, family-friendly sponsored walks to raise vital funds for research into premature birth. Taking place at locations across the UK, Walk for Tiny lives events are designed for mums, dads, grandparents and, of course, children. They offer...

Mapping baby brains may predict future problems

Posted: 24 March 2010 16:49 pm
If babies are born very prematurely they may have problems with movement, speech or learning disabilities later on.Clearly, it is better to know as soon as possible whether a problem is likely to occur so that treatments which may help them overcome their difficulties may be started or planned in advance.Researchers from Imperial College, London...

Could a hormone which causes contractions offer answers to help prevent early labour?

Posted: 24 March 2010 16:40 pm
More than 50,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the UK. More than 25 of these babies die each week because of complications that arise from their early birth. Premature birth is also a major cause of disability.Dr Vasso Terzidou of Imperial College, London, and her team are focusing on the role of a hormone called oxytocin which is...

Actress Kym Marsh highlights need for more research into premature birth

Posted: 10 November 2009 11:45 am
Action Medical Research is heartened to see Coronation Street actress Kym Marsh highlighting the urgent need for more research into preventing premature birth on ITV’s Tonight: Born Too Soon programme (shown on Monday 9 November). This is an issue our charity is dedicated to tackling and our special appeal, Touching Tiny Lives, funds vital...
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