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Researchers win award for saving preterm babies' lives

24 May 2017

The Australian leg of a worldwide Perinatal trial has pinpointed the optimal level of blood oxygen saturation for preterm babies to survive.

Professor William Tarnow-Mordi accepts the award from the Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt MP

Researchers at the University of Sydney NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre have been named the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance Trial of the Year – First Runner Up by Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt last week.

The researchers were instrumental in finding optimal levels of blood oxygen saturation for preterm babies, increasing their chances of healthy survival.

Preterm babies need extra oxygen due to their immature lungs and optimal saturation levels are crucial, as too much oxygen can harm their eyes and cause blindness while too little lowers their chances of survival.

The Boost II trial studied 1,200 very preterm babies and their healthy survival rate compared with their blood oxygen saturation levels.

The previous accepted range for blood saturation levels was between 85 per cent and 95 per cent, however the study found that levels between 91-95 per cent are optimal for healthy survival rates with no adverse side effects.

“The evidence will save thousands of lives, at minimal cost,” said Professor William Tarnow-Mordi, Director of Neonatal and Perinatal Trials at the University of Sydney’s NHMRC Clinical Research Centre and Boost II Australia coordinator.

“It was made possible by the wholehearted support of parents and researchers like Associate Professor Nick Evans and Adrienne Gordon at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Dr Melissa Luig and her team at Westmead Hospital and Professor Martin Kluckow at Royal North Shore Hospital.”

The Boost II Australia trial was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and one of five similar studies around the world called the NeoPROM Collaboration.

The results of the trial were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Cochrane Library.

Elliott Richardson

Assistant Media Advisor (Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy)

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