Start: January 2014
End: June 2020
Why do we need this research?
Most of the time, stillborn babies appear to have grown completely normally. Often, it is only discovered after birth that there was something wrong with the placenta: the organ that provides babies with the oxygen and nutrients that they need in the womb. An early sign that something might have gone wrong is if a mother notices that her baby is moving less than usual – this is known as reduced fetal movement.
Tommy’s have been supporting a trial to try and prevent stillbirth from happening, by focusing on women who report their babies are moving less than normal.
The AFFIRM trial
The AFFIRM trial, which ran from 2014 to 2016, aimed to see whether a simple ‘care bundle’ can reduce stillbirths by raising awareness of, and acting on, reduced fetal movement.
The AFFIRM care package was made up of:
- information for pregnant women raising awareness of monitoring reduced fetal movements
- more tests and clinical help when babies are moving less than normal.
The study generated huge interest, involving around 450,000 pregnant women across the UK. The results of the AFFIRM trial showed a small drop in the rate of stillbirth among women receiving the care package. However, this drop wasn’t large enough to be completely certain that it was caused by the care package, rather than being caused by chance.
What’s next for the AFFIRM trial?
Our researchers are now carrying out an analysis to show whether the AFFIRM care package is cost-effective to implement, compared to standard care. The team will be assessing the cost of extra resources needed to provide the care package, including additional scans. Along with the results of the trial, the cost-effectiveness analysis will provide policymakers with the information they need to decide whether to implement the care package across the NHS.
What difference will this project make?
If the care package studied in the AFFIRM trial is found to be cost-effective, it could be implemented it across the NHS. This could provide women whose babies are moving less than normal with additional support when they need it, and potentially help to reduce stillbirth rates in the UK.
More research projects
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.
As research shows half of UK mums are experiencing mental health problems in coronavirus lockdown, we've joined forces with Elvie on #TheBigSqueeze campaign to help Tommy's midwives continue to provide their vital support virtually during the pandemic.