College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

Charity celebrates research success

Event highlights advancements in the care of premature babies.

Studies from the University’s Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory have aided global research efforts to improve the treatment of babies born early.

Experts gathered with families and supporters at a celebration organised by the charity Theirworld, which funds the Laboratory.

Changes in care

Guests heard how early findings contributed to care improvements for premature babies in intensive care by helping to define the optimum levels of oxygen to give them.

Catherine Smith, daughter of the late Labour leader John Smith, spoke about how her own daughter – born prematurely at 28 weeks – benefited from the research.

Charity support

Theirworld is a global children’s charity committed to giving the most vulnerable children and young people a brighter future.

It was founded by campaigner Sarah Brown and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The charity’s first project was to set up the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory in memory of their daughter, who died ten days after being born at 33 weeks.

It is not something you ever wish on anyone or yourself - but what I looked for was the good that could come from it. Knowing you can do some good, help other people and build up knowledge that will transform outcomes for people is great.

Sarah BrownPresident and Founder, Theirworld

Future focus

Researchers from the Laboratory have recently set up a major study to track the health and development of 400 premature babies from birth through to adulthood.

The team is collecting biological samples and brain scans from the children as they grow up, as well as gathering information about their family environment and educational attainment.

New treatments

Their goal is to identify the causes and long-term consequences of brain injury at birth, in the hope of speeding the development of new treatments to improve the health of premature babies.

We hope to gain greater understanding of how being born too soon affects health in later life and, ultimately, develop new therapies to improve outcomes after premature birth.

Dr James BoardmanDirector, Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory

Early birth

Premature birth – which occurs before 37 weeks in pregnancy – affects around 15 million babies each year and is associated with increased risk of cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders, and learning difficulties.

Related links

Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory

MRC Centre for Reproductive Health