Using Big Data to Improve the Health of Mothers and Their Babies
Pregnancy and childbirth have undergone major changes in recent decades. New technologies (such as in vitro fertilization and prenatal genetic testing) and changing demographics (such as rising rates of obesity during pregnancy and childbearing) have had major impacts on prenatal care and pregnancy outcomes in Canada.
As Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Population Health, Dr. Jennifer Hutcheon aims to use Canada’s large birth registries and linked databases to answer important questions about obstetrical care, obstetrical health policies, and maternal and newborn health outcomes.
Using big data, she and her research team are developing new tools to identify which pregnancies may be at risk of complications due to conditions such as poor fetal growth and high blood pressure. Working with provincial policy-makers, they are also determining the impact of new maternity care policies, such as public funding for non-invasive prenatal genetic testing.
The tools and knowledge generated by Hutcheon and her team will help doctors and midwives better identify which pregnancies may need to be delivered early to prevent stillbirth and which can safely continue to term. Ultimately, their research will increase the odds of healthy pregnancies and healthy babies for women in Canada and globally.