Labour and delivery

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Prediction and prevention of preterm labour

Dr Penny Sheehan, Prof Shaun Brennecke, Assoc Prof Megan di Quinzio, Dr Harry Georgiou

A number of factors are known to be associated with increased risk of preterm labour including the presence of certain microorganisms and the length of the cervix as measured by transvaginal ultrasound. Women known to be at higher risk of preterm labour are offered care through the preterm labour clinic. Samples and data obtained from women attending the clinic are used to investigate the possibility of predicting preterm labour through the development of a new biomarker test which provides individual risk assessment regarding the likelihood of early delivery. Interventions such as cervical cerclage and vaginal progesterone supplementation to prevent preterm labour are studied through the clinic.

Failure to progress in labour - electrophysiological and molecular studies

Prof Helena Parkington, Dr Harry Coleman, Dr Penny Sheehan, Prof Shaun Brennecke

Failure of the muscle of the uterus to contract strongly during labour results in protracted and exhausting labour and, in a significant percentage of cases, necessitates caesarean delivery. The aim of this study is to elucidate the mechanisms that may be responsible for the weak uterine contractions that underlie ineffective labour. Failure of the uterus to contract normally at term, ineffective labour, necessitates the intervention of caesarean delivery in as many as 5-10% of first pregnancies. Administration of oxytocin may augment weak uterine contractions and resolve ineffective labour in some cases. However, in many cases, successful vaginal delivery is not achieved despite oxytocin infusion. Elucidation of the mechanisms underpinning the failure of uterine muscle to contract effectively in labour is the main aim of this project

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