Premature birth is an extremely traumatic experience and its complications are the leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age. Researchers at Imperial College have been identifying causes of premature labour using infrastructure and technologies available through NIHR Imperial BRC, to better manage high-risk pregnancies. Now a new research centre – the first of its kind in Europe – will accelerate research to reduce and prevent the risk of premature birth.
The centre is called the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Centre and will be led by Professor Phil Bennett, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Imperial’s Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology and NIHR Imperial BRC. It will be funded by the US charity March of Dimes and supported by a grant from Ferring Pharmaceuticals, who specialise in reproductive medicine and women’s health. March of Dimes support research, lead programs and provide education to improve the health of mums and babies. Together with Ferring Pharmaceuticals, they selected Imperial College London as the first European partner to join its network of Prematurity Research Centres.
Speaking at the launch event, Stacey D. Stewart, March of Dimes President, said: “What this is about is making sure that we can have more moms who can have successful pregnancies, who have babies who are just as healthy as they can be and that are born full term. … The moms and the babies that are here today reminds us that that’s why we’re here, to make sure that we can have healthier moms and healthier babies.”
Professor Bennett added: “We’re really really happy to be hosting the first European prematurity research centre. Prematurity is now the single biggest cause of death of babies under the age of five anywhere in the world. … It is very important to say that we could not do the work that we do without the patients that we look after.”
The opening event was attended by families affected by premature birth. One such family were Sidra Shah, her husband Zeghum Shah and their three-month old daughter Qudsia Batool. You can read their inspirational story here.