Improving healthcare outcomes for mothers and their newborn babies was the focus of the latest lecture organised by Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Academic Health System (AHS). The lecture was delivered by Professor Dr Joachim W Dudenhausen (pictured), Sidra Medical and Research Center’s (Sidra) Deputy Chief Medical Officer.

The lecture, which is part of a series highlighting the latest medical research to improve patient care, was held at Women’s Hospital as a joint event between HMC and Sidra, two of the eight partners in Qatar’s Academic Health System.

A critical aim of obstetrics in patient care and in research globally is the prevention of preterm births, which is the leading cause of death in newborn babies worldwide, as well as the cause of high rates of severe lifetime disabilities. Maternal and newborn health is one of the priority areas in Qatar’s National Health Strategy.

Professor Dudenhausen’s research expertise covers the prevention and treatment of preterm labor, the management of multiple pregnancies, and the supervision of the fetus during labor. His lecture highlighted a strategy of primary prevention and emphasized the importance of raising awareness among parents about risk factors for preterm births.

“An often-overlooked aspect of antenatal care is pre-pregnancy consultation. Women or couples who are planning to have a child should seek medical advice before pregnancy and should be aware of the risk factors for preterm labor and delivery. For instance, being obese or overweight increases the risk for preterm labor, as such it is important to address any health issues before pregnancy,” Prof Dudenhausen explained.

Prof Dudenhausen also cautioned against multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets or more) by assisted reproduction techniques and elective induction of labor or elective caesarean sections before 39 weeks of pregnancy are completed. Along with smoking, all of these factors carry the potential risk of preterm labor and delivery.

Women who have babies at a later age are also at greater risk of preterm births. Prof Dudenhausen also advises women planning to have babies to visit their dentist to treat periodontal (gum) disease, and to test for and supplement iron deficiency during pregnancy. Preterm or premature birth is the birth of a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy is completed.