Preterm or premature birth is when a baby is born before 37 weeks into pregnancy.
Affecting 1 in 10 births, it is a serious health issue worldwide and the biggest cause of illness and death in babies. Premature babies are at more risk of brain damage, which can lead them to have cerebral palsy and other health issues, or even tragically lose their lives.
It’s often caused by bacteria which travels up the vagina and through the neck of a mother’s womb, but there isn’t an effective way of treating it yet – even antibiotics aren’t effective.
In this project, Dr Ashley Boyle and her team are looking to better understand this process – what happens when a baby is exposed to infection, and can this teach them anything that could help healthcare professional protect premature babies?
Using these findings, Dr Boyle will explore how this infection could be prevented, and how to ultimately protect thousands of babies from life-altering brain damage.