Maternal Health

We are developing, testing and implementing solutions to save women’s lives across the world by improving their standards of care during pregnancy and childbirth.

Worldwide, pregnancy and childbirth are the number one killer of girls and young women aged 15-19 years, with 50,000 deaths per year in this group alone. Maternal deaths are not the only concern in pregnancy, and many otherwise healthy women may suffer significant repercussions.  

Through significant investment from partners including Tommy’s, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we have established strong infrastructure and a dedicated research community to save mothers’ lives.

Our collaborative approach puts the needs and priorities of women, healthcare providers and policy makers at the heart of our agenda. Researchers from across the University of Birmingham are working together to co-create the solutions. 

Miscarriage: We are addressing the issues that are most important to women and partners who experience miscarriage, with four key themes emerging from the questions asked by those who have lived this tragedy: ‘Why did it happen?’, ‘Will it happen again?’, ‘Can we prevent it happening again?’ and ‘How can we bear it emotionally and move forward from here?’

We lead Europe’s largest miscarriage research centre – the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research – in partnership with two other universities and four NHS hospitals. A network of four specialist research clinics are also incorporated, in which women are given the opportunity to take part in research trials while receiving the highest quality care through cutting-edge tests and treatments. 

Global health: We were awarded a WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Women’s Health in 2019. Our goal is to end mothers and babies dying from preventable causes globally, by undertaking research shaped by the views of women, communities, and local stakeholders. This is done through our research including pre-eclampsia and the International Calcium in Pregnancy (i-CIP) Collaborative Network, as well as the E-MOTIVE trial, which looks the detection of post-partum haemorrhage.

Metabolic health: Between 8-24% of women develop ‘gestational diabetes’ during pregnancy. Mothers with gestational diabetes are at a higher risk of developing raised blood pressure, needing a caesarean section and suffering stillbirths. Our research on metabolic health, including the International Weight Management in Pregnancy (i-WIP) Collaborative Group, looks at diet and physical activity in pregnancy to prevent gestational diabetes and to inform future guidelines in this field.

Pregnancy and childbirth: Our researchers are looking at how to optimise the care of women following childbirth-related perineal trauma (CRPT). There is currently little research or guidelines in this area, and some GPs and midwives have shared that they lack confidence, knowledge and training on how to assess and treat CRPT.

Our WHO-funded study, PregCOV, looks at the effects of COVID-19 in pregnancy and has established robust evidence for the recommendation on the care of pregnant women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. This has been achieved by looking at the risk of mother to child transmission, whether pregnant women are at increased risk of COVID-19 than non-pregnant individuals and whether the presentation is different in pregnant/postpartum women than non-pregnant individuals.

"Our work is focused around a shared vision to develop, test and implement solutions to save women’s lives and improve their standards of care during pregnancy and childbirth, not just within the UK, but across the world.

"To deliver this, we have spent decades building a collaborative ecosystem where researchers, clinicians, patients, charities and policymakers can work together to create change and impact."

Professor Arri Coomarasamy

Professor Arri Coomarasamy

Professor of Gynaecology and Reproductive Medicine

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Key researchers

  • Professor Arri Coomarasamy

    Professor of Gynaecology and Reproductive Medicine, Director of the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research and Joint Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Women’s Health

  • Professor Shakila Thangaratinam

    Professor of Maternal and Perinatal Health and Joint Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Women’s Health