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Using Big Data to Predict and Prevent Preterm Birth

Photo for BlogWorldwide, preterm birth is the leading cause of death for all children under age 5, taking the lives of more than 1.1 million children every year. Now, new research utilizing the emerging field of systems biology aims to harness big data in an effort to reduce the global burden of preterm birth.

Seattle is well known as a technology hub, and big data has become an area of great focus and opportunity. Advances in technology now allow for analysis of data sets that would have been much more difficult to accomplish just 10 years ago.

The Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children’s, is announcing three new projects that will use big data to help discover the root causes of preterm birth and identify potential targets for interventions to improve pregnancy health. In this case, big data is defined as large and complex data sets generated from biological components like molecules and cells, which require computational and mathematical modeling to interpret. Read full post »

World Prematurity Day: Harnessing Science to Address Preterm Birth

Photo courtesy of Paul Joseph Brown/GAPPS

Photo courtesy of Paul Joseph Brown/GAPPS

When you see pictures of tiny preterm babies, you likely marvel at how they fit in the palm of a hand, or how a wedding ring can slide up their arm and reach their elbow. What you may not consider is the lifelong toll premature birth can have on a person – if they survive it at all.

New research shows that for the first time ever, preterm birth is now the leading cause of death for all children under age 5 around the world.

More than 15 million babies are born too soon every year, and nearly one million of them don’t survive infancy. Those who do survive are often faced with lasting health issues such as cerebral palsy, developmental delays, or respiratory, vision and hearing problems. The burden is magnified in many developing countries, where world-class neonatal intensive care units, let alone a basic level of healthcare, are not available.

Dr. Craig Rubens, executive director of the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children’s, says a larger, coordinated research effort is critical to lowering the number of babies born preterm. Read full post »

What causes preterm birth? Seattle Children’s pledges dollars to find out

Courtesy of Paul Joseph Brown/GAPPS

Courtesy of Paul Joseph Brown/GAPPS

Globally, 15 million babies are born preterm each year, and more than 1 million of those do not survive their first month of life. Here in Washington, more than one in every 10 babies will be born preterm – before 37 weeks gestation – increasing the chance of birth complications, developmental disabilities, and lifelong health issues like cerebral palsy, asthma, and vision and hearing problems.

Today the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children’s, has announced that it’s granting a total of $2.8 million to two international pregnancy research sites as part of its Preventing Preterm Birth initiative (PPB). The international sites, located in Zambia and Bangladesh, will mirror similar sites GAPPS has developed in the U.S., and will enroll women early in pregnancy and collect information and biological specimens during their pregnancies and deliveries.

The data and specimens collected for the research will be used to identify the causes of preterm birth as well as novel strategies for prevention. For more information, please refer to the press release.

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