Posted on June 18, 2014

Improving healthcare outcomes for mothers and their newborn babies was the focus of the latest lecture organized by Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Academic Health System (AHS). The lecture was delivered by Professor Dr. Joachim W. Dudenhausen (pictured), Sidra Medical and Research Center’s (Sidra) Deputy Chief Medical Officer.

The lecture, which is part of a series highlighting the latest medical research to improve patient care, was held at Women’s Hospital as a joint event between HMC and Sidra, two of the eight partners in Qatar’s Academic Health System. A critical aim of obstetrics in patient care and in research globally is the prevention of preterm births, which is the leading cause of death in newborn babies worldwide, as well as the cause of high rates of severe lifetime disabilities. Maternal and newborn health is one of the priority areas in Qatar’s National Health Strategy.

Professor Dudenhausen’s research expertise covers the prevention and treatment of preterm labor, the management of multiple pregnancies, and the supervision of the fetus during labor. His lecture highlighted a strategy of primary prevention and emphasized the importance of raising awareness among parents about risk factors for preterm births. “An often-overlooked aspect of antenatal care is pre-pregnancy consultation.  Women or couples who are planning to have a child should seek medical advice before pregnancy and should be aware of the risk factors for preterm labor and delivery. For instance, being obese or overweight increases the risk for preterm labor, as such it is important to address any health issues before pregnancy,” Prof. Dudenhausen explained.

Prof. Dudenhausen also cautioned against multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets or more) by assisted reproduction techniques and elective induction of labor or elective caesarean sections before 39 weeks of pregnancy are completed. Along with smoking, all of these factors carry the potential risk of preterm labor and delivery. Women who have babies at a later age are also at greater risk of preterm births. Prof. Dudenhausen also advises women planning to have babies to visit their dentist to treat periodontal (gum) disease, and to test for and supplement iron deficiency during pregnancy.

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Preterm or premature birth is the birth of a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy is completed. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm every year, and this number is rising. Qatar follows this trend, although significant improvements have been achieved in the quality of healthcare for both mothers and newborn babies in the country. These improvements are reflected in declining death rates among mothers and newborns over the last three decades in Qatar.

A recognized international leader in his field, Professor Dudenhausen’s wealth of clinical experience includes over 30 years in obstetrics and gynecology departments in Germany, Switzerland and the USA. He has served in numerous high-ranking professional positions, including as Secretary General of the World Association of Perinatal Medicine. In his current post at Sidra, Professor Dudenhausen is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Graduate Medical Education and Medical Staff Service. He is also a professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q), another AHS partner.

Qatar’s Academic Health System is a first within the MENA region. It is a dynamic nationwide network integrating research, education and clinical care to focus on improving patient care and deliver innovative healthcare solutions. The eight partners working collaboratively in the AHS include HMC, Sidra, WCMC-Q, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, College of the North Atlantic-Qatar, the Primary Health Care Corporation, Qatar University and University of Calgary-Qatar.