Improving the entry into the world of preterm infants.

Years funded:
2016 - 2019

The transition from a fetus to a newborn at birth is arguably one of the greatest physiological challenges that all of us must undertake if we are to survive outside our mother's womb.

A successful transition requires two inter-dependent physiological adaptations to take place:

1) aeration of the lung to take over the role of gas-exchange, and

2) the cardiovascular system to switch from a fetal to a newborn circulation.

The majority of us transition without any problems. However, a staggering 28% of all infants born in Australia require some assistance to transition at birth.

For infants born extremely preterm (<28 weeks gestation) almost 94% require assistance to transition at birth.

The incidence of preterm birth has increased 36% in the past 25 years and although improved care has reduced mortality rates, this has occurred at the cost of increased morbidity. Dr Graeme Polglase's research has demonstrated that the transition from a fetus to a newborn for preterm infants is a critical window for lung, heart and brain injury, with a poor cardiovascular transition underlying much of this injury.

This research will develop strategies to help our most vulnerable infants improve their cardiovascular transition at birth, by improving the way we deliver preterm infants and provide cardiovascular stability immediately after birth. The overall aim is to reduce respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological morbidity in preterm infants.

Researcher Profile

Dr Graeme Polglase

Institute: Monash University
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