Touching Tiny Lives - keep up the great work! | Action Medical Research

Touching Lives - November 2006

Touching Tiny Lives - keep up the great work!

This work is so important, and so urgently needed. Every year a staggering one in ten of all babies in the UK — around 70,000 — need special medical care when they are born. Tragically, more than 3,000 babies die before they reach their first birthday, and premature birth is the single biggest cause. Many more have to cope with cerebral palsy, learning difficulties or other problems for the rest of their lives. Doctors still do not fully understand what causes premature birth, and as yet there are no effective treatments to prevent premature labour.

Research highlights

Thanks to the money raised by our wonderful supporters, this summer we have been able to start funding another three research projects to help babies and expectant mums. This brings the number of new projects begun since Touching Tiny Lives began to 23 — a tremendous achievement!

In one of these latest studies, researchers in Manchester are looking into whether teenage mothers are more likely to have smaller babies, because their own bodies are still not fully developed. This research will help to shed light on why so many younger mums have babies whose growth is restricted in the womb. Another project is aiming to identify the reasons why there are twice as many very premature babies born to mothers from socially deprived areas compared to those living in more affluent areas. This large-scale study will look at various contributory factors, including the role that infection and inflammation may play.

Researchers in another Action Medical Research study believe that a potential answer to premature birth could lie in studying a naturally-occurring hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is known to start labour by helping the uterus to contract and is used by doctors to increase the strength of contractions in order to speed up labour. The team, based at the University of Warwick, studied in detail how oxytocin affects the cells of the mother’s uterine muscle, with the eventual aim of finding treatments that could stop premature labour.

Stand Up for Tiny Lives

Almost 9,000 people have shown they care about putting an end to premature birth by signing our Stand Up for Tiny Lives petition. You can read their messages of support at www.standupfortinylives.org.uk. Leading medical experts, celebrities and comedians have also lent their names to this important initiative.

The petition is calling on Government to fund more research into pregnancy complications and premature birth. Action Medical Research is making an enormous difference in this under funded field, but we face big challenges and believe the Government must also do more. Thank you to everyone who has put their names to the petition. If you haven’t, it’s not too late! The more names we have, the greater the impact we will make when handing the petition in to 10 Downing Street.The petition closes at the end of December, so don’t delay!

Fantastic fundraising

Action Medical Research supporters have been raising money tirelessly over the year to support the Touching Tiny Lives Campaign.Thank you to everyone who has made a donation or organised a fundraising event, and to the many people who have cycled, run, walked, trekked and swum to raise such valuable funds. Action Medical Research and the Touching Tiny Lives Campaign are entirely reliant on voluntary donations. It’s your support that makes all the difference — so thank you!

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