Monday, 16 September 2019 - 5:14pm


The health of future generations can be shaped during development of the unborn baby and, in a unique study, a team of three Tasmanian researchers are currently investigating how blood flow in the placenta can impact on fetal growth.  

This is vital to Tasmania as our rate of premature birth is higher than the national average, our babies are also smaller than the average and, sadly, our rate of  perinatal mortality is also concerningly high. 

Blood flow in the placenta is critical for the growth of a baby throughout pregnancy, but little is known about how blood flow through the capillaries (the tiny vessels where nutrient exchange between mother and baby takes place) is regulated.  We do know that pericytes, specialised cells found only on capillaries, can regulate blood flow in the brain so the team is investigating whether they might play the same role in the placenta.

Taking this to a next step, the study will also explore whether dysfunctional pericytes may contribute to the impaired growth of babies during pregnancy.

Meet the team behind this study!

The team behind this project, funded by a RHHRF Incubator Grant generously donated by benefactor Susan Alberti, combines the expertise of Dr Lindsay Edwards, an Obstetrician and Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist, and Prof Peter Dargaville, a Paediatrician and Neonatologist at the Royal Hobart Hospital with Dr Brad Sutherland, a vascular biologist, based at the University of Tasmania.

This important study has already seen the team gain vital assistance from the local community, with women donating their placentas for research at the RHH. The team is now beginning to investigate pericyte function to determine if there are changes between placentas from healthy babies and growth-restricted babies.

Why we need your help? 

Revealing how placental blood flow is altered in those pregnancies that are complicated by prematurity and low growth is a crucial step toward understanding these diseases. This research will enable the team to then begin developing therapies to treat these common conditions.  This has the potential not only to influence the health of future generations of Tasmanians, but to impact upon all Australians.

The Foundation’s purpose is to pursue better health for Tasmanians through research, but we can’t do this without your help. 

This Spring please consider if you can provide a gift that will support not only Lindsay, Peter and Brad, but so many other passionate researchers on their quest for better community health outcomes – it means so much to all of us.

You can help members of our Tassie community by choosing to make a gift to the RHHRF today!


EVERY DONATION OVER $2 is Tax Deductible!