Start: August 2018
End: August 2020
Why do we need this research?
During labour, if the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen it can lead to long-term health problems like brain damage, or even death. However, the methods we currently used to monitor the health of the baby during labour are not reliable enough. We need better ways to monitor baby’s health, so that action can be taken as quickly as possible if needed to prevent any long-term health problems.
What’s happening in this project?
Our researchers are developing new methods to measure a chemical called lactate in the baby’s body. This chemical increases in the blood if the body isn’t getting enough oxygen. However, blood lactate levels are currently measured by making a small cut in the baby’s scalp while it is still in the womb, which is difficult to do and very invasive. It also only provides a ‘snapshot’ of the lactate level in the blood, rather than a continuous picture of the baby’s health.
Researchers supported by Tommy’s are developing sensors which can continuously measure lactate levels. One way they are doing this is to use a technology called microdialysis, where tiny needles are placed into the skin which can sample the fluid around the cells in the body. For example, people with diabetes can use microdialysis sensors to help them check their blood glucose levels.
Our scientists are now trying to develop a tiny microdialysis sensor, which can be attached to the baby’s scalp in the womb to monitor lactate levels in their body.
What difference will this project make?
If this project is successful, it could provide a new way to continuously monitor the health of babies during labour. This would mean that any problems could be acted upon as soon as possible. This would help to reduce the chances of long-term health problems for babies.
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Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for pregnancy complications and loss. If you're interested in being kept updated about our research and news from Tommy's, click here.
More research projects
New research has revealed the benefits of giving progesterone to women with early pregnancy bleeding and a history of miscarriage.
Tommy’s spent yesterday morning at the charming Foundling Museum in London, celebrating the work of Tommy’s National Centre for Maternity Improvement alongside the opening of the museum’s new exhibition, ‘Portraying Pregnancy’.
Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy may trigger long-term post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression
The largest ever study into the psychological impact of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy has shown that early-stage pregnancy loss can have a serious impact on mental health. The research was led by Professor Tom Bourne at the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Imperial College London.
A pilot trial led by Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research suggests diabetes drug could be repurposed to target the lining of the womb in women with recurrent miscarriage.