2015 research achievements

Each year our three research centres in London, Manchester and Edinburgh bring us closer to this goal. 2015 saw Tommy’s researchers publish 190 new studies, with 71 further projects currently underway.

Premature birth

  • We’ve developed two tests to identify women at risk of pre-eclampsia - the first is a non-invasive urine test that measures protein. The second measures blood pressure and pulse rate with an easy to use and cheap device that’s being trialled in developing countries. Both tests could help save babies’ lives around the world as well as here in the UK
  • The prematurity test we pioneered will be recommended across London - the Hologic Fetal Fibronectin (fFN) test identifies women at risk of premature labour, and has been a crucial part of our success in reducing premature birth at our London centre. It will be included in a ‘best practice’ toolkit which the London Strategic Clinical Networks will distribute across the capital. If used, it has the potential to reduce premature birth for 20-25% of women at risk.

Stillbirth

  • We’ve reduced stillbirth by 18% at our Manchester research centre
  • We’ve worked in partnership to identify the most important research topics for stillbirth - we’ve joined with 24 other organisations to form the Stillbirth Priority Setting Partnership. The Partnership will identify what research is needed to prevent stillbirth.
  • We’ve won awards - Dr Alex Heazell, Clinical Director at the centre, received a Butterfly Award for ‘outstanding bereavement care’. Alex also received an award from the International Federation of Placenta Associations. On top of this, he also secured a £1 million research grant.

Pregnancy

  • We’ve shown that yoga helps reduce depression and anxiety in pregnancy - Tommy’s funded the UK’s first study to see what impact a
    ntenatal yoga had in reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. The findings included yoga causing a reduction in stress hormone levels by 14%
  • We’ve discovered the balance of stress hormones in obese women can delay birth and cause their babies to grow larger during pregnancy.

Looking ahead to 2016

  • We’re fundraising to open a fourth research centre focusing on early miscarriage
  • We’ll be developing a care package to help reduce risk of stillbirth - we will be working with families and hospitals to help mums-to-be to monitor their babies’ movements. What we learn will help us to develop care approaches to help spot risk factors for stillbirth
  • We’ll invest over £80,000 into developing treatments for pre-eclampsia
  • We’ll be developing our smoking cessation services for young mothers-to-be
  • We’ll be using MRI scanning to learn how to spot babies that are not getting the nutrients they need from the placenta, which can lead to stillbirth
  • We will fund a Clinical Research Fellow to investigate why full term stillbirths happen.

Read more about our research

  • Tommy's researcher wearing white gloves using tweezers to put something on a slide

    Other research

    While Tommy’s concentrate most of our research on stillbirth, miscarriage and premature birth, we know that work is needed in many other areas to make sure as many babies as possible are born alive and well.

  • A researcher in a white lab coat looking at results on a computer

    New tests and technologies research

    Tommy’s are taking advantage of technology to develop new ways of making sure as many babies as possible are born healthy, from new scanning techniques to training simulators for amniocentesis.

  • Woman talking to health professional.

    Mental health and wellbeing research

    Tommy’s understand pregnancy complications cause far more than just physical harm. We want to understand the best way to support women’s mental health both during pregnancy and following loss.

  • Itching hands

    Cholestasis research

    Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, or obstetric cholestasis, is the most common liver disease affecting women during pregnancy.

  • Woman's feet standing on scales

    Obesity research

    Around 20% of pregnant women in the UK are now obese [1]. Tommy’s research is helping women of any weight to have healthy pregnancies.

  • A blood pressure monitor attached to a pregnancy woman's arm

    Pre-eclampsia research

    Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy condition that can lead to serious complications for mother and baby if left untreated. Tommy’s think that prevention is better than cure – so we’re funding research to figure out why it happens and how we can stop it.