June 29, 2007
Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine is slated to receive $2.5 million from the National Institute of Child Health and Development to study a method of preventing preterm babies from dying by treating their mothers just before they deliver in low- and middle-income countries.
The five-year project, led by Pierre Buekens, dean of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and collaborators at the Institute of Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, will focus on the use of specific medications called antenatal corticosteroids to help lung development in babies born before their due date. According to Buekens, these medications are often given successfully to mothers at risk of having preterm babies in higher income countries.
However, only one in ten preterm babies in low- and middle-income countries receives this treatment. Buekens and his team will develop and test a method of identifying preterm labor and administering the medicine to mothers in Argentina, Guatemala, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, India and Pakistan.
The $2.5 million award, which continues a previous grant for similar work, brings Tulane into the Global Network for Women's and Children's Health Research. This is a collaborative effort in which international, multidisciplinary teams of investigators work to improve the health of and prevent premature disease and death among women and children in developing countries.
"This research could have a large impact on neonatal mortality in low- and middle-income countries and is thus highly relevant to public health," says Buekens. "Our participation in the Global Network for Women's and Children's Health Research with this program maintains the focus of Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine on advancing global health."
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