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Parents assist in premature baby study

Luhan Smit was born at 34 weeks at the Wilgeheuwel Life Hospital in Johannesburg.Addressing preterm birth is a top priority globally, as global levels of premature births are on the rise. In South Africa, 14% of babies are born prematurely each year. But now a groundbreaking study, using parents as a resource, gives new hope.

The University of Sydney is studying the effects of the dairy-protein bovine lactoferrin on premature babies by, for the first time, tapping into parents’ observations. Parents are used as associate investigators according to Professor William Tarnow-Mordi at Westmead Hospital. Two mothers will assist in writing the study and its findings to provide clarity about clinical processes and to increase the study’s relevance to consumers. Melinda Cruz, CEO of Miracle Babies, will be assisting in the trial and, being a mother of two premature babies, she feels strongly about bringing more heart into the design of clinical studies.


What can bovine lactoferrin do for my premature baby?

This inexpensive dairy protein could decrease infection rates with its antibacterial activity and could possibly increase breast-milk intake. A similar study in Italy confirmed that life-threatening infection was reduced by two-thirds using bovine lactoferrin.


A call to enrol your premature baby in a trial

Currently in Australia, the slow take-up rate of less than 1% is the cause of many studies being abandoned or inconclusive. As the number of babies enrolled in these clinical trials increases, the period of the studies decreases, making a trial more viable and results less dated. Professor Tarnow-Mordi says a take-up rate of only 10% will make progress over 10 times faster, thereby contributing to a better survival rate and better quality of survival. Parents enrolling their premature babies in a trial could save another child’s life.
In a bid to fast-track this high-priority research, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research organisation has invested over $2.2 million (R19 million) in this project.


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