SEATTLE, July 31, 2008 – Dr. Michelle A. Williams, co-founder of Swedish's Center for Perinatal Research Studies, was recently awarded a $495,554 grant from the March of Dimes Foundation to fund a three-year research project to identify preconceptional risk factors and biological markers of preeclampsia and preterm delivery in China.
Entitled ‘Pre-conceptional Cohort Study of Metabolic Abnormalities in Relation to Incident Preeclampsia and Preterm Delivery in China,' the study will be performed in China by Dr. Williams, her co-principal investigator Dr. Zhu Li of Peking University Health Science Center, and her co-investigators at Michigan State University.
The goal of this research project is to identify warning signs prior to conception and in early pregnancy most likely to result in a birth defect or complication, focusing primarily on preeclampsia and preterm delivery.
This project is a prospective study following 5,000 women who have never given birth prior to conception, throughout pregnancy and until six weeks postpartum. Working with existing premarital and pre-conceptional health examination programs in China, Dr. Williams and her co-investigators will select eligible women for the study from both northern and southern cities in China.
Preeclampsia is a disorder characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. It occurs in 5 percent to 8 percent of all pregnancies and, in addition to other hypertensive disorders, is the leading global cause of maternal and infant illness and death. Babies born before the 37th week are classified as preterm delivery. This occurs in about 12 percent of all pregnancies and usually results in longer hospital stays for the infant and mother, higher risk of complications and long-term developmental problems.
Dr. Williams has also conducted research in South America, Africa and Thailand. Her dedication to global healthcare mirrors the same vision of the Swedish Perinatal Studies Department – to increase knowledge about the causes and consequences of adverse pregnancy outcomes in order to ultimately reduce the burden of morbidity and mortality in maternal and infant populations locally, nationally and worldwide.
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