The Stillbirth CRE is committed to discovering novel approaches to stillbirth prevention research and implementation of risk reduction strategies in late pregnancies. This includes seeking out new partnerships to identify and test novel interventions to ensure the best possible outcomes for pregnant women and their babies.
Some of our exciting new research includes:
To improve our understanding of the causes of stillbirth, research involving tissue, blood and other biospecimens is crucial. However, as stillbirth and serious neonatal complications are relatively rare in a high-income country like Australia, to progress research in this area large repositories (biobanks) of maternal and perinatal samples are urgently required so that researchers have ready access to high quality biological samples that have been rigorously curated.
In the next five years, the Stillbirth CRE is committed to creating a biobank, or large database of more than 50,000 maternal and infant biological samples, to enable researchers to find new ways to identify at-risk pregnancies and prevent stillbirth.
Better markers of placental dysfunction are urgently needed. This includes the development of biomarkers to improve the detection of FGR, and methods to improve detection of placental insufficiency through ultrasound-based assessments and woman’s perception of fetal activity.
The Stillbirth CRE network is currently working on new approaches to improve the detection of fetuses at risk. This includes developing and undertaking high quality randomised trials testing novel approaches to stillbirth prevention and using the Stillbirth CRE’s existing placental consortium to create a national dataset and repositories (biobank) of placental specimens.
This study aims to continuously monitor fetal wellbeing in women who present with DFM using a wearable abdominal monitor in a home setting.
Currently, there is no objective way to assess and measure fetal movements and maternity health professionals rely wholly on the mother’s own perceptions to evaluate movement. What is needed is a simple, continuous, and objective measure of fetal movements.
By combining obstetric and bioengineering expertise, researchers have invented a novel wearable patch the size of a band-aid, called FetalKicks, to continuously monitor fetal movements. Two studies have already shown that this patch works, detecting fetal movements better than the mother’s feelings of movements. The next phase of development of FetalKicks will allow researchers to develop the ability to monitor fetal movements 24/7, automatically detect fetal movements through artificial intelligence and alert the mother when her baby’s movements are not normal.
When complete, FetalKicks will give clinicians the ability to track fetal movements continuously, giving vital real-time information to both mothers and the clinicians who care for them.
This four-year multicentre, randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial commences in 2021 and will include 16 Australian hospitals and 3,200 women. The trial will test whether intrapartum Sildenafil can safely avert the risks of contraction-induced hypoxia in labour.