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Maternity Research Team Lead The Way With National Trial To Prevent Anaemia in Pregnancy

Maternity Research Team Lead The Way With National Trial To Prevent Anaemia In Pregnancy

Date of release: 6 October 2020

Maternity Research Team Lead The Way With National Trial To Help Prevent Anaemia In Pregnancy
Maternity Research Team, from left, Julie Icke, Laura Devison and Charlotte Busby, with panda, plus panda image

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust is leading the way to help prevent anaemia in pregnancies after starting a £2.3m national trial involving 11,000 women over the next five years.

Professor David Churchill, Consultant Obstetrician at the Trust, has collaborated with a team of academics from Oxford University researching the diagnosis and management of anaemia for the past five years. 

Their work has culminated in the group being awarded the grant by the National Institute for Health Research to carry out the research.

The programme, called primary prevention of maternal anaemia to avoid preterm delivery and other adverse outcomes – or PANDA for short – consists of five projects, the main one being a multi-centre randomised trial of 11,000 pregnant women. 

Around a third of pregnant women in the UK develop anaemia – a deficiency of red cells or of haemoglobin in the blood – and as a result experience problems such as excessive tiredness, palpitations and shortness of breath. 

Those affected are also at increased risk of sepsis, postpartum haemorrhage, postnatal depression and even – rarely but significantly – maternal death.

Their babies are also at increased risk for low birth weight, premature birth and stillbirth. 

Treating anaemia after it develops does not reduce all the risks, hence the desire to find out if the condition can be prevented in the first place by giving iron tablets.

Before the project starts there are two workstreams to discover an effective intervention to use in the main trial. 

This involves combining a behavioural intervention to overcome the problems experienced by pregnant women when taking iron, and a trial to work out an effective low-dose preparation to use to deliver the iron needed by pregnant women.

The Trust is the lead obstetric unit for the programme and its maternity research team Julia Icke, Laura Devison and Charlotte Busby are leading the research. 

They have been trained by a behavioural science team at University College London to interview pregnant women to discover the advantages and disadvantages of taking iron during pregnancy. 

The demographic is based on age, number of previous pregnancies and children, ethnicity, relationship status, geography and highest level of education.

When the main phase of the trial is rolled out, the organisation will be the one of the main points of contact, helping to implement the study at other units.

Julia Icke, Lead Research Midwife for the trials at the Trust, said: “It’s been really exciting to be part of this study from the very beginning. 

“Working together as part of the maternity research team, we are committed to play our part in improving the health of pregnant women and their babies.


Notes to Editor

  • For further information, please call Tim Nash on 01902 447297 or email tim.nash2@nhs.net
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