Opened in 2011, our pioneering research centre in Manchester aims to find solutions to pregnancy problems. The centre focuses on:
- understanding the causes of stillbirth and developing treatments to prevent it
- finding ways to identify which pregnancies are at risk
- working with the NHS to improve antenatal care to help reduce stillbirth rates in the UK.
Our researchers deliver world-class advances in pregnancy research to inform better clinical care, policy and practice. By doing this, we can improve outcomes for mothers, their babies and their families.
The centre has grown to include a network of 5 research clinics. At our clinics, we offer specialist care to women at high risk of pregnancy loss. These women have a chance to take part in clinical studies that improve our understanding of stillbirth, fetal growth restriction, hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes. The clinics allow us to translate research breakthroughs into clinical practice.
- The Rainbow Clinic
- Manchester Placenta Clinic
- The Manchester Antenatal Vascular Service (MAViS)
- The Diabetes Clinic (VELOCITY)
- The Lupus in Pregnancy Clinic (LiPS)
Our model is very successful. Since 2010, our research centre has reduced the stillbirth rate in the Greater Manchester area by 32% against a much lower national average rate of reduction.
The placenta and stillbirth
In around half of stillbirths, there is a problem with the placenta – the link between mother and baby. That’s why many of our research studies focus on the placenta. Failure of the placenta means that not enough oxygen and nutrients get to the growing baby and this leaves them at high risk of death. Fetal growth restriction is one of the leading causes of stillbirth.
2019 research highlights
- Having discovered that there are a higher number of large blood vessels in placentas affected by diabetes, we are looking at treatments that can stabilise the process of vessel growth to improve pregnancy outcomes for women and their babies.
- We found that nitrate dietary supplements, such as beetroot juice, significantly lowered high blood pressure in women, a condition associated with pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia.
- We have pioneered nano particle technology, a way to directly deliver drugs to the placenta with no side effects to the mum and baby.
Find a stillbirth research project
Current research projects
Completed research projects
The Rainbow Clinic is part of the Tommy's Research Centre at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester. It provides specialist care for women who have suffered a previous stillbirth or neonatal death.
The Manchester Placenta Clinic is part of the Tommy's Research Centre at St Mary's Hospital. The clinic aims to improve the care of pregnant women who have, or are at risk of having, babies with fetal growth restriction.
The Manchester Antenatal Vascular Service (MAViS) is part of the Tommy's Research Centre at St Mary's Hospital. The clinic supports women who have a high risk of hypertension in pregnancy, by monitoring women closely, giving them extra scans and specialist support.
The Lupus in Pregnancy (LIPS) Clinic is part of the Tommy's Research Centre at St Mary's Hospital. This specialist antenatal clinic is for pregnant women with Lupus Spectrum disorders and connective tissue disorders.
The Manchester VELOCITY Clinic is part of the Tommy's Research Centre at St Mary's Hospital. The clinic provides multidisciplinary care for women who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Deborah is 37 and lives in Borehamwood with her caring and supportive husband Ben. Their baby Yaeli was sadly stillborn at 40 weeks + 1 day after Deborah noticed reduced movements.
Gaynor and Ben from Yorkshire were devastated when their daughter Kallipateira was stillborn in 2018. Sadly, their second pregnancy ended in miscarriage in 2019. Gaynor self-referred to Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic in Manchester later that year and was supported by Professor Heazell through her third pregnancy. Their healthy rainbow baby Apollon was born during lockdown in 2020.
Frankie's first pregnancy was low risk, largely problem free. At 38 weeks and 2 days, Frankie experienced reduced movements and sadly baby Esme was stillborn. With small children in her wider family, Frankie turned to books to try and explain the tragic loss of Esme - but couldn't find anything suitable. It was then that she created the beautifully illustrated book 'These Precious Little People', for families affected by the death of a baby.
Sharon Manatsa from Bedfordshire was delighted when she found out she was pregnant in 2016. Devastatingly, her baby Melkiah was stillborn. Sharon is now determined to break the stigma around baby loss, particularly within Black and minority ethnic communities. This is Sharon’s story.