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Mount Sinai star makes preterm birth discovery

December 19, 2008 - An international research study led by Mount Sinai’s Dr. Kellie Murphy will change the standard of care worldwide for pregnant women at risk of preterm birth.

  Dr. Kellie Murphy
Dr. Kellie Murphy

The study, to be published in The Lancet Journal online December 19 and printed in the December 20 issue, found that pregnant women who take multiple courses of antenatal corticosteroids, used to reduce the infant’s risk of respiratory distress syndrome and death, increase their probability of giving birth to an infant who weighs less, is shorter in length and has a smaller head circumference. The researchers also found that one course of this medication is just as effective in protecting premature babies from these risks as multiple courses.

“By bringing together global expertise, we have discovered the best practice for women at risk of preterm birth,” says Dr. Murphy, Principal Investigator of the study and Maternal Fetal-Medicine Specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital. “Treating these women with a single course of antenatal corticosteroids will help create healthier outcomes for their babies who are more vulnerable to immediate and long-term health problems.”

More than 1,850 women at 80 health centres in 20 countries participated in this clinical study, which included 87 pregnant women from Mount Sinai.

What is preterm birth?
  • Preterm birth is defined as birth before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.
  • Infants born before term are at an increased risk of respiratory distress syndrome and neonatal death.
  • Seven per cent of babies born in Canada are preterm.

For more information, please contact:

Melissa McDermott
Media and Communications Specialist
Mount Sinai Hospital
416-586-4800 ext. 8306