06:06am Thursday 17 October 2019

Making a healthy start to life

Professor Andrew Shennon, from King’s College London, is the keynote speaker at the inaugural symposium hosted by UNSW’s Australian Centre for Perinatal Science.

His address will canvas how the latest biochemical tests can now detect those most at risk of preterm delivery and how they can be incorporated into practice.

Another highlight of the symposium is a presentation on intergenerational transmission of anxiety.

“Mothers with anxiety and depression are particularly vulnerable to negative interactions with their baby, as they find the bonding with their child less rewarding or more anxiety-provoking,” says UNSW Medicine’s Professor Valsamma Eapen.

“These patterns set the stage for the development of psychopathology in the child and underscore the role of the oxytocin system in shaping the intergenerational transmission of social affiliation and emotional adjustment versus distress and anxiety,” says Professor Eapen, who is the Chair of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UNSW.

The co-convenor of the event, UNSW Professor Bill Rawlinson, will speak about a common viral infection, which can cause severe disability or even death for babies infected during pregnancy. Yet in healthy people, it causes only mild flu-like or no symptoms.

“Cytomegalovirus or CMV is as common as Down’s syndrome in liveborn infants, yet it is greatly under-diagnosed. The tragedy is that the damage to the baby might be prevented, if we know about it early enough,” says Professor Rawlinson.

Professor Rawlinson is calling for a health-economic analysis of CMV screening in all pregnant women and all infants.

“Most infected babies will be well. However, about half of the infants who develop disease will not show symptoms at birth and are unlikely to be identified without screening,” Professor Rawlinson says.

For more information, visit the website

What: Maternal and Fetal Health Making a healthy start to life

When: 12 September 2013

Where: John Niland Scientia Building, Kensington Campus, University of New South Wales

Media contact: Susi Hamilton, UNSW Media Office +61 2 9385 8920 or 0422 934 024

About UNSW’s Australian Centre for Perinatal Science: Established in March 2011, ACPS brings together researchers from numerous disciplines all committed to making significant scientific discoveries that will improve outcomes for mothers and their families during the perinatal period, the period from pregnancy to the first year postpartum.

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