Promising research to reduce maternal and infant mortality

One of the best parts of my new job at the Society for Science & the Public is the opportunity to be exposed to important scientific research that could save children’s lives.  In our August 23rd issue of Science News Magazine, I learned about a recent discovery that could lead to earlier detection of preeclampsia with a simple urine test.  Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that raises women’s blood pressure to dangerous levels.  Globally, 500,000 babies and 76,000 pregnant women die each year because of preeclampsia and related high blood pressure disorders. That is over half a million lives lost every year, and we still don’t really know what causes it or how to prevent it.

Lesser publicized conditions like preeclampsia disproportionately impact women and babies who lack access to adequate maternal and child health care services, and as a result they tend not to get as much attention or funding as other health issues.  But this new research is an important early step in making it easier and more affordable to detect preeclampsia, and eventually improve survival rates for women and babies worldwide.  There is a great deal more work to do, but studies like this demonstrate the vast potential for medical research to save lives and transform societies.   And to ensure that the most marginalized – typically women and children in poverty – benefit from these advancements, it is crucial for maternal, infant and child health to remain a high priority on the global health agenda.

Read the full article here.