$2.55 million MRFF grant for women’s health project

Women’s health received a boost recently with a $2.55 million Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant for a project led by Professor Helena Teede and colleagues, that was recently announced by Federal Minister for Health, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP.

The grant will enable the expansion of the extensive, internationally renowned work by Professor Helena Teede, Professor Jacqueline Boyle, Professor Helen Skouteris and Dr Cheryce Harrison, to improve healthy lifestyle in preconception, pregnancy and postpartum stages of life. The researchers work with the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI) team, a partnership between Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine and Monash Health, and this grant builds on three National Health and Medical Research Council Centres of Research Excellence already held by the MCHRI team.

Most Australian women enter pregnancy above healthy weight, then rest and "eat for two" with adverse health outcomes for themselves and their children. Adverse lifestyle can cause 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 that engender positive behaviour changes that extend from before and during pregnancy, through to the years after birth, improve health outcomes for mothers and babies and are therefore vitally important.

This project will develop and implement risk prediction tools identifying pregnant women at high risk of adverse lifestyle-related outcomes, as well as translating targeted lifestyle support strategies into healthcare, undertaking health economics analyses and influencing guidelines and policy to improve lifestyle, health, quality of life and wellbeing of Australian mothers, babies and children.Professor Helena Teede

"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.

Global stakeholders including the World Health Organization, the UK National Institute for Health Care Excellence, the US Institute of Medicine, NHMRC, National Antenatal Guidelines and Australia’s Women’s Health Strategy all call for healthy lifestyle support for women to optimise health outcomes.

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