Funding research to help sick babies – Baby Loss Awareness Day | Action Medical Research

Funding research to help sick babies – Baby Loss Awareness Day

18 October 2010

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 investigating ways to help tackle premature birth and help sick and vulnerable babies. Action Medical Research has been supporting significant medical breakthroughs for nearly 60 years and has had some major successes in helping babies to be born healthy by:

  • helping introduce ultrasound scanning in pregnancy
  • discovering the importance of taking folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent spina bifida
  • developing an infra-red scanner to help minimise the risk of brain damage in babies
  • developing a state-of-the-art fetal heart rate monitor to make pregnancy safer for babies at risk
  • showing that cooling babies can minimise brain damage in some newborn babies deprived of oxygen at birth, reducing the risk of death and severe disability.

The charity has also funded several projects focussed on ways to prevent stillbirth, including a project in Belfast where top surveillance experts – whose skills are normally used to analyse moving images such as CCTV footage – have joined forces with maternity doctors.

This unique research team is hoping to harness the skills and technology used in security surveillance systems to build up a picture of how babies move in the womb as they develop. This can be used to help women at high risk of stillbirth, to detect unusual changes to the movement of their baby which might indicate a problem.

In a separate project, researchers funded by Action Medical Research have recently discovered that a drug given to pregnant women for severe itching – a symptom of a liver disease which can cause stillbirth – could also help to lower the risk of stillbirth itself.

Yolande Harley, Deputy Director of Research, said: “Action Medical Research has a proud history of funding research that has benefited thousands of babies and their families. We are also funding ongoing projects which highlight our determination to tackle premature birth, including research which hopes to ultimately lead to developing treatments that will enable doctors to prevent or stop early birth.”

Notes to editors:

For further information please contact:
Claudine Weeks, Communications Manager
Tel: 01403 327478

Action Medical Research is the leading UK-wide medical research charity dedicated to helping babies and children. We know that medical research can save and change children’s lives. For nearly 60 years we have been instrumental in significant medical breakthroughs, including the development of the UK polio vaccine and ultrasound scanning in pregnancy. Today, we continue to find and fund the very best medical research to help stop the suffering of babies and children caused by disease and disability. We want to make a difference in:

  • tackling premature birth and treating sick and vulnerable babies
  • helping children affected by disability, disabling conditions and infections
  • targeting rare diseases that together severely affect many forgotten children.

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