10 July 2018

£2 million grant awarded to premature birth research to reduce child deaths and disability

International research by the University of Sheffield aimed to prevent and reduce premature birth has been awarded a £2 million grant from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

A premature baby receiving care in an incubator.
  • Research will help to reduce the amount of preterm birth in low and middle income countries in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations
  • Funding will bring improved guidance for antenatal care in order to prevent, recognise and manage preterm birth better.
     

The grant will be used to establish and run the NIHR Global Health Research Group on Preterm Birth Prevention and Management (PRIME) through the Department of Health and Social Care.

The PRIME group, which is composed of researchers from the University of Sheffield in collaboration with hospitals and universities in South Africa, Bangladesh and Nigeria, will carry out several pioneering studies to better understand how to reduce the problems of child death and disability caused by premature birth.

Premature birth, also known as preterm birth, affects 15 million babies every year worldwide, with over one million deaths occurring as a direct consequence of babies being born too soon.

Preterm birth accounts for more than half of all deaths of children aged five years and under, particularly in low and middle-income countries where preventable and treatable infections contribute to high preterm birth rates.

PRIME’s work will result in important recommendations aimed to address the causes, consequences, prevention and care of preterm new-borns. The group will also work with families, healthcare professionals and policymakers to develop culturally and context-appropriate interventions.

The group is led by Professor Dilly Anumba, Group Director and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the University of Sheffield’s Department of Oncology and Metabolism.

Professor Anumba said: “This is a very welcome and hugely exciting opportunity for us researchers at the University of Sheffield to work with colleagues in partner countries to develop practical and effective solutions to improve the healthy survival of premature babies born in communities with fewer resources.

“We are grateful to the NIHR Global Health Scheme for funding this project that promises to improve the health of the pregnant mother and her newborn baby.”


This funding will bring improved guidance for antenatal care in order to prevent, recognise and manage preterm birth better, especially in low income communities.

The main challenge is to develop care approaches that are culturally relevant, scaled to local contexts and are affordable. They must also be acceptable to health care planners, professionals and women.

This research will help to reduce the amount of preterm birth in low and middle income countries in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Dilly Anumba, Group Director and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

University of Sheffield | Department of Oncology and Metabolism.


Key work will also develop training models for healthcare professionals and mothers to improve preterm newborn care.

The Department of Oncology and Metabolism at the University of Sheffield brings together researchers to translate scientific discoveries into clinically meaningful advances.

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