- More than $500,000 for Preterm Birth Prevention Clinic for 12-month trial
- About 2,800 babies in WA require special care due to preterm birth
- King Edward Memorial Hospital is Australia's largest preterm birth referral hospital
- Phase II of the trial will run July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016
In an effort to reduce the rate of preterm births in Western Australia by one-third, the State Government has been involved in the Women and Infants Research Foundation's WA Preterm Birth Prevention Initiative, funding a trial through the specialist clinic at King Edward Memorial Hospital.
Announcing additional State Government funding of $506,663 to extend the trial by 12 months, Health Minister Kim Hames said while preterm birth was the single largest cause of death and disability in children under five years of age in the developed world, in many cases it was preventable.
"More than 2,800 children are born too early in WA each year, and people used to accept that there was no way of improving the chances of a full-term pregnancy for mothers considered at risk," Dr Hames said.
"We now know that there are many factors influencing a pregnancy term, and while it's still too early for definitive data, I've seen the first results from the trial at the Preterm Birth Prevention Clinic and they're very promising."
Since the trial started on November 17 last year, 186 women at risk of premature delivery have attended the clinic, and 161 remain in a healthy pregnancy. Of the 25 births during the trial, only two were born preterm.
The Minister said he was excited by the positive early outcomes with results so far indicating a reduction in births at 37 weeks and between 22 and 26 weeks of pregnancy at King Edward Memorial Hospital which is Australia's largest preterm birth referral facility.
"The clinic was initially funded for an initial research period to June this year but these results are a strong argument to continue the trial," Dr Hames said.
Premature birth can lead to short and long-term health issues, including breathing and temperature regulation complications, asthma, gastrointestinal problems and increased infection risk due to an underdeveloped immune system. Babies born prematurely are also at increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
The current trial started on World Prematurity Day, November 17, and will continue to June 30 this year. Phase II will start on July 1 and finish on June 30, 2016.
- Preterm birth is defined as birth before 37 weeks and after 20 weeks of gestation
- One in every 12, or 8 to 9 per cent, of pregnancies in WA are preterm
- Immediate care for a single newborn with a birth weight of less than 750 grams typically costs the health system $216,000 and in the range 1.5kg-2kg about $59,000
Minister's office - 6552 5300