May 18, 2023

Investigating a new therapy to help prevent preterm birth

Globally, the leading cause of death in children under five is due to health issues arising from preterm birth, which affects more than one in 10 babies. Of the 15 million babies born too early each year – before 37 weeks of a completed pregnancy – approximately one million will die. Of those that survive, many will have life-long health complications such as cerebral palsy, asthma and developmental disabilities.

Preterm birth can occur for a variety of reasons. Maternal infection, high stress, lifelong trauma, and genetics can all cause inflammation during pregnancy, triggering preterm birth and damaging the infant’s growing organs.

“The key to improving the prognosis of preterm babies is to control inflammation,” says Kazumasa Fuwa, a neonatologist from Nihon University in Japan and WCHRI postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Currently, there are no helpful medications to block this inflammation or early labour.

Read more in Kazumasa’s postdoctoral fellowship profile