Funding has been secured for a new pilot project which aims to reduce the number of hospital check-up visits pregnant women attending may require during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the project, researchers from University College Cork (UCC) and INFANT, the Irish Centre for Maternal and Child Health Research will use remote technology to enable pregnant women to have their blood pressure monitored remotely.
If a pregnant woman’s blood pressure is too high for too long and left uncontrolled, it can affect infant growth and may be a sign of a potentially life-threatening condition called pre-eclampsia.
In some cases, women with suspected high blood pressure may need to present at the hospital for extra check-ups as well as their routine consultations.
A total of 500 pregnant women attending Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH), including COVID-positive and COVID-negative mothers, are to be enrolled in the project.
These women will use an automated device connected to the INFANT Research Centre’s LEANBH platform to measure their blood pressure.
The results will be relayed to the clinical team and mothers can then be alerted if their care needs to change.
The platform can also be used within the maternity hospital to allow women to take their own blood pressure in an isolated room, if required, without the need for direct contact between staff and the patient.
The project is one of 11 proposals which is to share funding of €1.4m under the Science Foundation Ireland -coordinated research and innovation response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is being led by Professor Frédéric Adam, Business Information Systems Department, Cork University Business School, and the INFANT Research Centre, and Dr Fergus McCarthy, Consultant Obstetrician and Senior Lecturer, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the INFANT Research Centre at University College Cork.
Dr Fergus McCarthy said that there is “huge potential” to extend the project: “This is a fantastic opportunity to improve our care for pregnant women by offering them safe, accurate and convenient monitoring of their blood pressure in pregnancy in the comfort of their homes with results monitored by an in-house team of midwives and doctors.
“There is huge potential to extend this project nationally, and relook at how we offer care to all our pregnant women to ensure they have as safe a pregnancy as possible.”