Many stillbirths happen because the placenta isn’t working properly. When this happens, the baby can’t get all of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive and grow in the womb. If we had a way of telling when the placenta stops working normally, we could stop stillbirths from happening by delivering the baby early.
The PAPPO study has been reviewing past research to see if measuring 'markers' that give clues about how well the placenta is working can help predict, and stop, stillbirth. Because very few large studies have been done, there wasn’t enough evidence to tell if measuring these markers can improve a baby’s chances.
However, we haven’t given up, and are still looking for tests that can accurately predict stillbirth. Looking at data from 65 studies, we are trying to find out which tests work best to predict when a baby will be stillborn. So far, most tests weren’t very accurate, and couldn’t always tell when the placenta wasn’t working.
We will carry on researching these tests in a group of 660 women in late pregnancy whose babies are not moving as much as normal: the FEMINA3 study. We hope that this research will help us understand how to tell when the placenta isn’t working properly. Then, we can find babies at risk of stillbirth as early as possible, and take action to give them a better chance of survival.
Professor Alexander Heazell, Dr Melissa Whitworth, Dr Clare Davenport, Professor Lelia Duley, Professor Jim Thornton, Professor Alan Montgomery, Professor Tracey RobertsHide details
This study takes place in a Tommy's centre and is funded by Tommy's and the National Institute for Health ResearchHide details