Pregnancy loss is made more traumatic when medical professionals are unable to explain to parents what went wrong. Yet it is a common response. Pregnancy complications are not yet fully understood by by clinicians or researchers in the UK. That’s why Tommy’s has created a national pregnancy research network, to get a better understanding of pregnancy, and to prevent the complications that lead to loss - so more babies can be born healthily.
In 1995 we opened the UK’s first-ever Maternal and Fetal Research Unit at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Six years later we established a second unit at St Mary’s Hospital in the University of Manchester and in 2008 our third centre was opened at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. In 2016, we opened our latest centre, the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research.
We can now justifiably claim internationally renowned research capabilities and we are very excited by the projects our teams are working on. We believe they will bring real pregnancy health benefits sooner rather than later, meaning fewer families will have to endure the terrible heartache of losing a baby.
All four of our centres have established specialised clinics to provide expert care to women at high risk of pregnancy complications.
The Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Research Centre in London
Our London centre, opened in 1995, is led by Professor Lucilla Poston. Although the centre has a broad spectrum of research interests in women’s health, the clinical research programme focuses on screening for, treating and preventing pre-eclampsia and premature birth. Our researchers are playing a large part in a worldwide effort to introduce a routine screening test for these problems to identify women at high risk. This would have the potential to dramatically improve pregnancy outcome.
The Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Research Centre in Manchester
Our Manchester centre, opened in 2001, is led by Professor Colin Sibley. It specialises in examining the role of the placenta in pregnancy complications. Important breakthroughs have been made in the Manchester centre that bring treatments and predictive tests for pregnancy problems much closer. In 2009 our Manchester team opened the UK’s first clinic to focus on the placenta to improve monitoring of women whose pregnancies are affected by fetal growth restriction. In 2011 the centre launched its new Stillbirth Research Programme with funding from Tommy’s. The centre also runs the Rainbow Clinic, which cares for women who have had a previous stillbirth in a following pregnancy.
The Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Research Centre in Edinburgh
Our Edinburgh centre, opened in 2008, is led by Professor Jane Norman. It specialises in looking at the risks of obesity during pregnancy. Half of women of childbearing age in the UK are currently overweight or obese, so progress in this field has the potential to benefit millions. Soon after the centre launched, our Edinburgh team opened the Tommy’s Antenatal Metabolic Clinic, which is already providing specialised care to around 200 women per year. Women who are obese and attend the clinic are eight times less likely to have a stillbirth than those who do not attend.
The Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research
Our National Centre for Miscarriage Research opened in April 2016. Miscarriage is the leading cause of the loss of a baby in pregnancy yet scientists and doctors do not know what causes it or how to prevent it from happening again. That's why we are opening UK's only national research centre, dedicated to preventing early miscarriage, this year.
The National Centre for Miscarriage Research will comprise a partnership of three universities: The University of Birmingham, The University of Warwick (in conjunction with University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust), and Imperial College London. The three sites will run specialist clinics enabling 24,000 women per year to access treatment and support and participate in Tommy’s research studies.
The centre will seek to understand why miscarriage happens, if it is likely to happen again, how to prevent it, and how to provide appropriate aftercare.
It is Europe's largest miscarriage research centre.
Recent research achievements in miscarriage and stillbirth, premature birth, pre-eclampsia and general pregnancy health.
In addition to our core work on miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth and pre-eclampsia, Tommy’s also funds projects that research the effects of lifestyle and well-being on pregnancy and on the later life of the child.
When a baby dies after 24 weeks of gestation it is called a stillbirth. Incredibly, over 3,500 babies are stillborn every year in the UK and many of these deaths remain unexplained. Tommy’s research is dedicated to improving these shocking statistics.
Around 60,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the UK and many suffer lifelong consequences as a result. Preterm birth is the leading cause of neonatal death in the UK.
Miscarriage affects 200,000 couples every year in the UK, with 85% of miscarriages happening in the first 12 weeks. Often parents receive no answers to their questions. We want to change that.
In the UK, 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth. Often, no one can tell parents why it happened. Our research aims to find out why pregnancy goes wrong and how to stop it happening.