Sarah Brown opens maternal health unit

The prime minister’s wife has opened a new centre for research into maternal and fetal health in Edinburgh.

The centre is based at the Queen’s Medical Research Institute and is the first Scottish research base for the baby charity Tommy’s.

Sarah Brown opened the centre, which is next to the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory.

The laboratory was established after the death of Gordon and Sarah Brown’s daughter Jennifer, who died aged just 11 days after she was born prematurely.

“I am delighted to support the important work of Tommy’s through the groundbreaking research being carried out at their new centre in Edinburgh,” she said today.

From May this year the centre will focus on the effects of obesity on maternal and fetal health during pregnancy.

A quarter of Scottish women are obese. During pregnancy, obese women and their babies are at significantly greater risk of preterm birth, stillbirth, miscarriage and caesarean section compared with women of normal body weight.

Ms Brown said: “This work is vital to help further understanding about pregnancy complications arising from issues such as obesity. I hope that the team at the new Tommy’s centre will go on to uncover preventative treatments to help women have healthier pregnancies.”

Professors Jane Norman and Andrew Calder will lead the centre and its nine expert research staff.

Professor Calder, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The ultimate goal of the clinic is to improve the antenatal care of pregnant women using a multidisciplinary approach through clinical assessment, investigation, communication and consultation with other specialists involved in their care throughout pregnancy and prior to delivery.

“We hope that, by the avoidance of risk, this improved care will result in better outcomes for both the mother and her baby.”