· New research theme focused on improving maternal and infant health and well-being launched at event on 19 September
· Range of topics to be investigated includes prevention of miscarriage, if earlier delivery of bigger babies prevents complications, interventions to improve outcomes for women who have medically complex pregnancies, better postnatal care for women, and improving uptake and duration of exclusive breastfeeding
· “This theme will enable us to bring together and work with local, national and international collaborators to produce research which reflects maternal physical and psychological health before, during and after pregnancy.” – Professor Debra Bick, Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, University of Warwick
Warwick Medical School is bringing together vital expertise in pregnancy and postnatal research in a drive to tackle the most pressing issues for the life-course health of women, their infants and families.
A new Maternity Research theme, launching at the University of Warwick on 19 September, will bring together leading researchers, with expertise in clinical trials in reproductive health, obstetrics, midwifery and maternity care to generate high quality evidence to enhance health outcomes before, during and after pregnancy.
The new theme, led by Professor Debra Bick of Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, will develop and lead clinical trials and other research studies to address priority issues facing women and maternity service providers locally, nationally and globally. It is launched as the University announces a major clinical trial led by Professor Siobhan Quenby that will investigate whether a course of antibiotics prior to conception could reduce the likelihood of cases of recurrent miscarriage in partnership with University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (The CERM trial) and funded from the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme – an MRC and NIHR partnership.
The current research programme led by the theme researchers also includes a trial of earlier delivery of bigger babies to prevent adverse birth outcomes, optimal postnatal management of medically complex pregnancies, planning of postnatal pathways to address maternal physical and psychological co-morbidity, a trial of postnatal weight management support using commercial weight management groups and a trial of whether teaching midwives to better inform women to correctly perform pelvic floor muscle exercises in pregnancy could reduce incontinence at three months postnatally.
The Maternity Research theme will be launched at an event on Thursday 19 September, attended by guest speakers, researchers, clinicians and women who use maternity services. Attendees will hear about projects such as the Big Baby and Alife trials, work with parents facing ‘difficult’ babies, and hear from the Chief Midwifery Officer at NHS England and NHS Improvement and National Maternity Safety Champion for the Department of Health, Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE.
As well as potential interventions before and during pregnancy, the Maternity Research theme will focus particularly on postnatal care, which is currently lacking robust evidence to inform improvements to services. There are a range of medical complications that women can experience post-pregnancy, with incontinence, perineal pain and mental health issues among the most common, but approaches to managing these complications have changed little during recent decades. Support to enable women to successfully breastfeed is still poorly understood, and a number of projects and reviews are also underway to provide a better evidence-base.
The Maternity Research theme is led by Professor Debra Bick of Warwick Clinical Trials Unit (WCTU), whose appointment established the research theme at Warwick.
Professor Bick said: “We have a fantastic opportunity at Warwick to build on our track record of trials to improve outcomes of pregnancy and birth. There is a wealth of relevant research already taking place across the University. This theme will enable us to bring together and work with local, national and international collaborators to produce research which reflects maternal physical and psychological health before, during and after pregnancy.
“Warwick is a leading research university, with global reach and high reputation for its clinical research. Being based within the Warwick Clinical Trials Unit provides the opportunity to work with a range of experts to develop, implement and evaluate clinical trials, outcomes of which could potentially improve life-course health for women, their infants and families. Our links with our local NHS trusts and those who use our maternity services means that our work reflects the most important priorities for pregnant and postnatal women. If interventions are effective, we can work with our NHS partners, funders and policy makers to ensure evidence is implemented.
“We aim to lead high profile, large multi-centre trials with colleagues and academic centres across the UK and internationally to improve outcomes of pregnancy and birth. The evidence and outcomes we generate will also contribute to policy, guidelines and pre-and post-registration education programmes, including those offered by Warwick Medical School.”
Professor Gavin Perkins, Director of the Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, said: “Bringing together researchers, clinicians and professionals under this new theme focused on the health of mothers and their infants demonstrates how we are continuing to expand the range of health challenges that our award-winning Clinical Trials Unit aims to tackle. With our strong partnership with University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, we are in the ideal position to speed our work into clinical practice and benefit patients sooner.”
19 September 2019
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