The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation granted the University $14 million to conduct two studies geared toward making childbirth safer for both the mother and infant in some of the world’s poorest countries.
“Almost all maternal deaths can be prevented, as evidenced by the huge disparities found between the richest and poorest countries," according to a UNICEF analysis. "The lifetime risk of maternal death in high-income countries is 1 in 3,300 compared to 1 in 41 in low-income.”
With the help of the Gates Foundation, the LABOR and FAMLI studies aim to break that socioeconomic divide.
The larger of the two, the LABOR study, is “centered around the idea of ‘can we use new technology that’s inexpensive and appropriate for use in low-income settings?’” said Dr. Jeffrey Stringer, a professor in the UNC School of Medicine and principal investigator of the project.
Brown University and Northwestern University are working with the UNC Schools of Medicine and Global Public Health on the LABOR project. The team is hoping to develop a small, wearable sensor that can be produced under minimal costs and monitor pregnant women’s vital signs, helping predict which patients are going to have problems during labor and allowing intervention on these issues to occur earlier.