Borne CEO David Badcock gives evidence at the House of Lords Preterm Birth Select Committee

Last week, I was invited to give evidence at the Lords Select Committee, which has been set up to consider the prevention, and consequences of preterm birth.  At Borne, we fully welcome this inquiry, which we hope not only raises much needed awareness for our vital cause; but will also ensure much more funding is made available for research to understand the causes of premature labour. As a result we can develop new treatments to prevent it from happening in the first place.  You can see the session here.

Borne is a charity that was founded by an obstetrician who witnessed first-hand the devastating effect of preterm birth on babies and their parents.  He created Borne to find effective treatments to stop preterm birth.  Our vision is a future where every baby has the best chance of a full and healthy life.

For far too long, this area of medical research has been underfunded (as is the case with women’s health more broadly) and the impact from what has been invested has not changed meaningfully for almost as long as we have looked at the figures.  We know that it’s unlikely that big pharma will invest into this area, because developing treatments for unborn babies or pregnant women is very high risk.  The market is small, and likely to get smaller as we sub-divide the different types of treatment needed for preterm labour.  The government must step in, and we would like to see it treated as an orphan disease so that urgent government funding can be made available.

Borne is working hard to try and fill the gaps in the meantime, by bringing together the world’s leading scientists to support the best ideas, and to attract the brightest minds into the field by offering training fellowships.  We also advocate for families who have been through premature birth.  Many children who have been born preterm have very little chance of having a successful life and often they don’t have a voice.  This is what Borne is here to do.

Ultimately, we need to have a much better understanding of preterm birth.  Once we understand it, we can effectively intervene – but until we understand it, we can’t.  Until we can identify those people who are high risk, and intervene in that population (ie by screening the low risk population) we are not going to make a difference.  So, we’d like to see much wider screening made available to all women early in their pregnancy.  At the moment, it’s not until mothers are proven to be high risk (eg by having had a premature baby already) they are not offered help.  We do not know they are high risk until baby arrives early, and then it’s too late. 

Every day we don’t do anything, another baby is born too early.  We are very hopeful that this inquiry will lead to more research and more treatments, so that every baby is given the very best chance to lead a full and healthy life.

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