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A cry for change

Specialist neonatal paediatrician Dr Sarah Harris will continue her research efforts to explore the relationship between premature birth and the heart health of mother and baby later in life, with funding awarded by the Heart Foundation.

A growing body of evidence suggests that adults who were born prematurely, and mothers who give birth to a premature baby, are at increased risk of heart disease later in life but neither are currently considered in New Zealand’s national risk assessment guidelines.

It’s an issue for a significant portion of the population. Premature births account for around one in every thirteen babies born, with higher rates for Māori and Pasifika babies.

Sarah hopes that premature birth is recognised as a heart health risk factor, and earlier screening and interventions are put in place.

“Our aim is to ensure that premature birth does not lead to a premature death later in life in these children or their mums," says Sarah.

Learn more about 2022 research grants