This research study is now complete
Why do we need this research?
The cervix is important in making sure a baby isn’t born too early. It not only keeps the baby inside the womb until labour, but also helps stop infections from entering the womb and hurting the baby. We already know that premature birth can be a result of something going wrong with the cervix. However, at the moment we’re not sure how the cervix normally works to stop the baby from being born too soon.
What’s happening in this project?
As a first step to help us understand more about the cervix’s role in humans, researchers supported by Tommy’s are looking at pregnancies in mice. In this project, our scientists developed a new way to study in mice how the cervix is involved in premature birth. By damaging cells in the cervixes of pregnant mice, the team believed that the mice would be less able to stop infections from entering the womb, and that they will then give birth early.
Our scientists showed for the first time that damage to the cervix does increases infections that are known to be linked to preterm birth. This information is crucial to help develop new treatments to prevent this from happening.=
What difference will this project make?
This project has provided new insights about how the cervix stops infections from reaching the womb, and so prevents premature birth. This will help our researchers develop better tools to identify which women are at risk of preterm labour. It could also lead to treatments to better manage and potentially stop babies being born too early.
Get our research updates
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
A BBC News investigation has found that some private baby scanning studios are misleading customers by advertising “reassurance” scans that do not diagnose serious conditions and abnormalities.
In this Q&A, we sit down and chat with with Tom Willmott, a researcher based at Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre in Manchester. He gives a rare insight into a novel and exciting area of pregnancy health research, known as ‘maternal microbiology’, looking at what we can learn by studying bacteria in the mouths of mums-to-be.
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.