Predicting time until birth after waters have broken early

Elizabeth Wastnedge, Anna King and Sarah Stock

If a mother’s waters break early, it can sometimes lead to the baby being born early, but it is difficult to predict exactly when. We’re funding research to help doctors accurately predict time until birth, and ensure that premature babies get the best possible start in life.

Start: 2019

End: 2020

Why do we need this research?

Preterm prelabour rupture of membranes, known as PPROM, is when a pregnant woman’s waters break early before labour starts. PPROM often leads to premature birth, which can cause life-long health problems for the baby as their lungs aren’t fully developed.

Drugs called corticosteroids can be used to help the lungs to mature, but only if they are given within seven days of birth. However, it can be difficult for doctors to predict exactly when a baby will be born following PPROM, as they may not be born within a week.

We need to be able to predict the time of birth more accurately, so that we can treat PPROM better and reduce the chance of health problems for premature babies.

What’s happening in this project?

Scientists funded by Tommy’s are trying to find ways to help doctors predict when a baby will be born after PPROM. To do this, our researchers will be extracting anonymous information from the health records of mothers who experienced PPROM. Using this data, the team will develop a tool which will tell doctors the chances of a baby being born within the next week – the critical timeframe for giving corticosteroids. This will allow them to decide the best time to give corticosteroids to the mother to help their baby’s lungs mature in time for birth.

What difference will this project make?

The results from this project will help doctors to predict when a baby will be born after PPROM. This will help ensure that mothers get the right treatment at the right time, and help to reduce the risk of health complications for them and their baby

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