In the western world, pregnancy and childbirth are now much safer than in previous decades. The number of maternal deaths has fallen dramatically, and medical advances have reduced child mortality. But there is still much work to do. Further screening, diagnosis and prevention of serious pregnancy complications will make a real difference to the safety of mother and baby.
In New Zealand alone, nearly 600 babies are stillborn or die within 28 days of birth each year. The cause of stillbirth is unknown in many cases, making it difficult for grieving families to understand why this tragedy has occurred.
Preeclampsia, preterm labour, small undernourished babies, gestational diabetes and premature separation of the placenta all pose life-threatening health risks for mothers and babies. Our research aims to help predict which women are likely to develop these complications so that preventative measures can be taken.
Fertility treatment has contributed to the rising number of multiple births. Carrying two or more babies creates additional health risks for mother and babies, and most babies from multiples are born prematurely. Reducing the incidence of multiple births resulting from fertility treatment is another key area of our research.