2015 Funding Round - Emerging Researcher First Grant

Dr Mary Berry
University of Otago, Wellington
Premature celebration? The late effects of early birth
24 months

Lay summary

Premature birth is common and the short-term health risks well recognised. In recent years the late-effects of premature birth, including increased cardiovascular risk, have started to emerge.

Disentangling the effects of prematurity from the events that led to preterm birth in the first place, and from the effects of lifestyle factors that emerge between birth and adulthood is challenging. Additionally, prematurity-associated cardiovascular risk may reflect an increased susceptibility to common cardiovascular stressors (such as dietary salt) in those born early.

Animal models enable separation of these key variables.

Adult guinea pigs born preterm or at term will be studied using a range of techniques to establish how blood pressure and other fundamental cardiovascular parameters change with increasing age with, or without, increased dietary salt exposure. This will provide the mechanistic insight necessary to inform clinical trials so that survivors of preterm birth aren’t disadvantaged by increased morbidity throughout their life.

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