A University of Bedfordshire-led research team has been given funding to help and enhance timely antenatal care for pregnant women in Luton.
Bedfordshire, along with University College London, University of East London and the Luton and Dunstable Hospital Trust, have been awarded a ￡98,896 research grant by the Wellbeing of Women, in partnership with the Burdett Trust for Nursing, to facilitate and enhance timely antenatal care initiation and optimum uptake for pregnant women in the area.?
The research project will begin with an analysis of anonymous data routinely collected from Luton and Dunstable Trust, one of the largest NHS maternity units in the UK.
Analyses will be conducted using birth related data collected from women who gave birth between April 2007 – March 2019, to help the research team to understand the patterns of the first antenatal care appointments attended by new mothers, and then the number of appointments attended.
Research project lead, Dr Shuby Puthussery, Director of the Maternal and Child Health Research Centre at the University of Bedfordshire,?said: “Antenatal care has long been recognised as an effective way of maximising positive health outcomes for pregnant women and their babies. This is a fantastic opportunity to facilitate and enhance antenatal care uptake among mothers in Luton”.
"Our initial data analysis showed that more than one in five women are likely to start antenatal care later than the recommended 12 weeks of pregnancy.
“We will look not only at the factors that contribute to late initiation and inadequate use, but also implement an intervention co-produced with mothers and health care providers to address the issue.”
The multi-disciplinary team include researchers and practitioners from Maternal and Child Health Research Centre (University of Bedfordshire), Population, Policy and Practice Programme, Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (University College London), Institute for Health and Human Development (University of East London) and the Departments of Maternity, Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Luton and Dunstable Hospital Trust).
Dr Leah Li (Co-investigator), Associated Professor in Medical Statistics from University College London, said: "We will model the distinct patterns of antenatal care initiation and uptake and their associations with neonatal outcomes.
“We will use the rich source of routinely collected health care data on 50,000 pregnant women to inform targeted interventions’’.?
Jeremy Barratt, Head of Research at Wellbeing of Women, said: “This study looks to understand the patterns of antenatal care uptake and how it impacts on preterm birth and new-born health.
“Women who do not start antenatal care early enough, or do not attend at all, are likely to have worse pregnancy outcomes and this research aims to identify and understand the barriers they face and produce practical solutions that encourage women and their families to access available antenatal care early in pregnancy.
“We hope the findings will provide important information that could ultimately lead to changes in antenatal care uptake and improve the health of babies currently at risk.”
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