Unit News

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Necrotising enterocolitis: protecting newborn babies from this life-threatening bowel problem

Evidence suggests hundreds of babies develop a serious bowel problem called necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) each year in the UK. Babies with NEC need urgent treatment, often involving emergency surgery. Sadly, many babies with NEC lose their lives and some of those who survive suffer long-term complications, such as persistent bowel problems, poor growth and learning difficulties. Researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Southampton, led by Associate Professor Ed Juszczak, are investigating how different milk feeds and food supplements affect babies’ chances of developing NEC, in the hope of better understanding why so many babies still develop this devastating condition.

Read more about this research, which is funded by Action Medical Research.

UK is not the world's worst at breastfeeding

A letter published in the Lancet by NPEU researchers Maria Quigley and Claire Carson shows that around 1 in 10 UK women are still breastfeeding when their baby is 12 months old.  This estimate is based on a UK study of 14,848 women who gave birth in 2000-2001 and then answered questions about infant feeding when their baby was 9 months old and again at 5 years.  Corroborated with data from the last three UK Infant Feeding Surveys, their estimate of 1 in 10 contrasts with a recent report which suggested that only 1 in 200 UK women are still breastfeeding at 12 months. 

Read the Lancet letter.

NPEU studies highlighted in NIHR 10th anniversary 100 Impact Case Studies report

Two pieces of NIHR-funded NPEU research, the Birthplace in England Research Programme and the UKOSS study of H1N1 influenza in pregnancy, feature as case studies in the NIHR 10th anniversary report which identifies and celebrates 100 examples of impact arising from NIHR funded research. 

Birthplace is commended for changing “through policy recommendations, the advice given to pregnancy women and practice” and for continuing “to produce findings that will likely translate into quantifiable safer and cost-effective births in England”. 

The UKOSS study of pregnant women hospitalised with H1N1 infection in 2009 influenced policy and guidance updates during the pandemic, changed policy recommendations on seasonal immunisation for pregnant women and as a result led to a doubling of the number of pregnant women immunised against influenza in England between 2009 and 2015. 

Read the report.

Indian Obstetric Surveillance and Research System-Assam (IndOSS-Assam)

A collaborative study between the NPEU and an Indian University has shown the feasibility of using methods developed for the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS) to establish a simple anonymous hospital-based obstetric surveillance and research system in the Indian state of Assam (IndOSS-Assam).  This pilot study, published in BMJ Global Health, is a first step towards estimating the incidence and case-fatality of severe life-threatening complications during pregnancy and childbirth in Assam and showed a high incidence of eclampsia, postpartum haemorrhage, puerperal sepsis, septic abortion, uterine rupture and anaemic heart failure, along with a high case fatality rate. This suggests the need to focus research and policies to improve management of these conditions to reduce the burden of maternal mortality and morbidity in the state. For more details read the paper

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