Women and Babies Research is a collaboration between the University of Sydney, the Kolling Institute of Medical Research and the Northern Sydney Local Health District. We are based at the Royal North Shore Hospital campus, a teaching hospital linked to the University of Sydney.
Our Director is Jonathan Morris AM, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Sydney and a fetal medicine subspecialist whose exceptional level of expertise in low and high-risk pregnancies is underpinned by over 20 years’ experience in the field. He is the current chair of the Maternal and Perinatal Committee – the peak advisory committee of NSW Health.
Our research team comprises over 20 people including obstetricians, midwives, neonatologists, neonatal intensive care nurses, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, marketeers and social scientists.
We conduct crucial research into the cause, prevention and management of pregnancy complications in order to improve outcomes for pregnant mothers and their babies. We work in collaboration with our partners, health systems and the community to evaluate and improve the safety and quality of maternity services and care thereby helping to make pregnancy safer for everyone. The goal of all our work is to ensure optimal health for mothers, babies and their families.
We investigate factors associated with pregnancy problems such as premature birth, stillbirth, fetal growth restriction, high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes in pregnancy. We evaluate current clinical interventions and assess models of care in order to determine the most appropriate course of action for those who experience difficulties during pregnancy or during the birthing process. This research is vital to understand how pregnancy complications are best prevented and managed.
Our achievements have included being awarded an Australian Clinical Trial Alliance (ACTA) Clinical Trial of the Year in 2016 for an international study that determined the best timing of birth for women who break their waters early in pregnancy.
Pregnancy and the newborn period are of critical importance for both the mother and her baby. For the mother, pregnancy can provide insights into her future health such as the likelihood of her developing diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) or heart disease. A baby’s short, medium and long term health is also influenced by factors such as mode of birth and gestational age at birth. Furthermore, educational outcomes are generally better for babies born around their due date.
Through the linkage of very large population health records, we are able to identify the importance of the last few weeks of pregnancy and the growth and development that takes place between 34 and 40 weeks of gestation. These findings have led us to promote evidence based best practice for planned early birth across New South Wales and Australia.