Premature babies help next generation

Updated on Nov 17 2013, 3:15 pm
By Elle Farcic
The West Australian
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He is only eight weeks old and weighs just over a kilogram but already little Thomas Collidge is helping to save the lives of future premature babies.

Born at 24 weeks at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Thomas’ life has been marked by health scares and medical complications.

He was put in an incubator within minutes of his birth.

His mother, Allira Collidge, was warned her son had serious heart and lung problems.

“I only had one cuddle with him for the first six weeks and that was the week that he was born,” Mrs Collidge said.

A few days after Thomas was born, Mrs Collidge signed him up to two research studies aimed at improving the health of future preterm babies.

One is looking at the effect of fish oil on inflammation and brain development and the other is a five-year study focusing on the causes of breathing problems.

Both are under way at King Edward and are run by researchers from the hospital and the University of WA.

The researchers’ work with premature babies was recently recognised through a $2.5 million grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council for a University of WA-led Centre of Research Excellence.

Co-director Professor Jane Pillow said the centre relied heavily on people such as the Collidge family agreeing to join its research studies. The Woman and Infants Research Foundation will host a picnic at Matilda Bay Reserve tomorrow as part of World Prematurity Day.