$2.55 million MRFF grant for Monash University women’s health project

Monash University

Women’s health received a boost with a $2.55 million Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant for a Monash-led project announced by Federal Health Minister, The Honourable Greg Hunt, today.

The grant will enable the expansion of the extensive, internationally renowned work by Professor Helena Teede, Professors Boyle and Skouteris and Dr Cheryce Harrison, to improve healthy lifestyle in preconception, pregnancy and postpartum.

This public health project will develop and implement risk prediction tools identifying pregnant women at high risk of adverse lifestyle-related outcomes, It will implement and scale targeted lifestyle support strategies into healthcare, undertake health economics analysis and influence guidelines and policy to improve lifestyle, health, quality of life and wellbeing of Australian mothers, babies and children.

“This grant highlights the key value of the Medical Research Future Fund, targeting taxpayers funds to pragmatic and applied research and translation that directly and tangibly benefits the Australian community, in this case, women in pregnancy and beyond to our next generation,” said Professor Teede.

Healthy lifestyle plays a vital role in preconception, pregnancy and postpartum health. Adverse lifestyle causes excess unhealthy weight gain in pregnancy, increasing a mother’s risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, preterm delivery and caesareans, as well as poor health for the next generation.

Supportive lifestyle interventions and behaviour change that extends from before and during pregnancy, to the years after birth, improves health for mothers and babies and is vitally important.

This MRFF grant enables effective lifestyle programs to be implemented and scaled to support Australian women and their families. It builds on three National Health and Medical Research Council Centres of Research Excellence held by the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation team, a partnership between Monash University School of Public Health and Monash Health.

It will enable partnership across women, families, researchers, health professionals, services and government to develop and implement risk prediction tools and integrate cost-effective healthy lifestyle supports into practice and policy, to improve the health of mothers, babies and children.

Most adults in Australia are of unhealthy weight. Most women enter pregnancy above healthy weight, then rest and “eat for two” with adverse health outcomes for mothers, babies and children. Monash healthy lifestyle support programs help to improve lifestyle and reduce these pregnancy complications.

As noted by women involved in the programs:

“Making changes during my pregnancy has made me feel so much better. My weight gain has improved and I’m eating better, am more energetic and have helped my family to be healthier in the process, – I’m so much happier that my pregnancy is healthy with this support.”

“My health is/becomes my baby’s health.”

“My health before and during pregnancy can influence the birth process and recovery post birth.”

“Improving my health before, during and after pregnancy is very important for my ongoing health and that of my baby.”

WHO, UK National Institute for Health Care Excellence, US Institute of Medicine, NHMRC, National Antenatal Guidelines and our Women’s Health Strategy all call for healthy lifestyle support for women to optimise health outcomes. This grant will support healthy lifestyles for Australian mothers and babies.

Professor Teede and case studies are available

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