Why do we need this research?
While a baby is growing in the womb, it is very sensitive to changes in its environment. Changes because of problems with a mother’s health can have long-lasting effects on the child. We also know that if a mother suffers from pregnancy complications, she herself can be more likely to suffer from other diseases later in life. These include heart disease, diabetes, and problems with mental health.
To help prevent these health risks in both mother and baby, we need to know more about how and why they develop.
What’s happening in this project?
In this project, our researchers are gathering lots of information from hospital and GP records. This will help them understand when and why diseases happen as mothers and their children age. They will also bring together the results of routine blood samples taken from pregnant women and babies to help us work out how signs of disease begin early in life.
At the moment in England, this information is scattered across lots of different places, making it difficult to use for research. Tommy’s are supporting a partnership between doctors, scientists, and IT specialists to help bring all this information together and carry on collecting it in one place from now on. This is called eLIXIR, or early-LIfe data cross-Linkage in Research.
To begin with, our researchers will collect information from a deprived area in South London with over 600,000 people, where health is worse than in other areas of England. They will link together the hospital records of pregnant women, babies and children with other information from mental health records and national databases. If the team can show that this system works, they will then expand it to include many more people, both in London and beyond.
What difference will this project make?
This new resource will help researchers to understand the entire ‘life course’ of some of the most common diseases – from pregnancy to adulthood – and help scientists and doctors work out how to stop them.
Get our research updates
Tommy’s funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for pregnancy complications and loss. We can keep you updated on our research news. If you're interested in being kept updated about our research and news from Tommy's, click here.
More research projects
A recently published article, co-authored by Professor Catherine Williamson from Tommy’s Research Centre at King’s College London, suggests that certain pregnancy complications can indicate future health issues for women.
Tommy’s has received a grant from the UK Government’s Department for Health and Social Care to support the costs of its PregnancyHub information and support services throughout the summer, due to rising demand in the wake of coronavirus.
Although recruitment to some clinical trials had to be paused when coronavirus hit the UK, scientists at Tommy’s Research Centres across the UK are still hard at work, supporting women and families in our specialist clinics and sharing their latest studies with academic journals.
The day before Mother’s Day, and two days before the UK officially went into coronavirus lockdown, Zara Dawson found out she was having a miscarriage. Her third consecutive miscarriage in less than a year, and fourth consecutive loss, after losing her second son Jesse in 2018 to termination for medical reasons.