Being born too early is the single greatest cause of death and disability in children up to five years of age in the developed world. Discovering how to prevent this complication of pregnancy needs to be one of our highest priorities.
Why our work is so important
Worldwide, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm each year. In 2015, preterm birth was responsible for nearly 1 million deaths.
In WA alone, nearly 3000 babies are born preterm each year – approximately 1 in 12 pregnancies ends preterm.
Those born at the earliest gestational ages may suffer from severe problems such as cerebral palsy, developmental delay or blindness. For those born at a later gestation, even approaching full-term, there may be behavioural and learning problems.
Our world-unique WA Preterm Birth Prevention Initiative has reduced the rate of preterm birth across the state by 8% in its first year. That’s almost 200 families prevented from having a preterm birth and the prospect of long-term care and permanent disability for their child.
This same research program has been recognised as a 'Report of Major Impact', providing new information and guidelines for the global health community to effect positive change in their own regions.
Success from now on will require more research discoveries as well as expanding the program that links science with our clinical community and the public. Visit the Prevention of Preterm Birth research theme
page to learn more of our work.