More than 60% of preterm births occur in Africa and South Asia
In some parts of the continent, 18% of births are preterm
In sub-saharan Africa, we will define the size and the nature of the problem
In Africa, only 50% of babies born at 34 weeks survive
We understand that preterm birth is a global problem with most preterm babies being born in Low and Middle Income Countries. The causes may be very different in these countries than in High Income Countries, which is why we will take our research and our researchers around the globe. We believe this multi-geographical approach to understanding preterm birth will give us a far broader understanding of what causes a child to be born too soon - not just here in the UK, but everywhere.
Sub-Saharan African countries report high rates of adverse perinatal outcomes, but prior to introducing any healthcare solution, a comprehensive understanding of the existing perinatal epidemiology is required. Consequently, we propose to perform a pilot study investigating the perinatal outcomes in a well-characterised cohort of pregnant women from urban parts of the continent. This cohort study will also provide an understanding the aetiology of adverse pregnancy outcomes, facilitating the design of targeted interventions to improve perinatal outcomes and establish the infrastructure for later interventional studies.
We propose to undertake this initial study to evaluate the feasibility of recruiting a large cohort of women in early pregnancy with the aim of defining pregnancy epidemiology in an urban setting and of establishing a bioresource to investigate the underlying mechanisms responsible for adverse pregnancy outcomes. Ultimately, the information from this study will guide interventions to improve perinatal outcomes in Africa, which may be extended to other countries in Sub Saharan Africa. Such targeted interventions will make Goal 3 of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (reduction in global maternity mortality to less than 70/100,000 and in neonatal mortality to 12/1000 live births) achievable.