Why was another EPICure Study Needed?
The way doctors and nurses look after very tiny babies changed considerably since the original EPICure study started in 1995. We could see that more babies seemed to be surviving by 2006 compared to 1995. We thought it is important to document this properly and to see if the children born a decade later had similar problems to those born over 10 years previously.
As part of the new EPICure studies we undertook to study all babies born in England at 26 weeks of gestation or less (14 or more weeks premature) during 2006.
The new study told us how effective advances in Neonatal care since 1995 have been. It also told us more about the lung development of very tiny babies. The professional approach of different baby units was considered. This built on the knowledge gained through the hard work of the EPICure families and children in the EPICure 1995 study.
The EPICure 1995 studies told us that babies who were well in the hours shortly after birth often did better in the long term. The EPICure 2006 (EPICure2) studies collected more information than was obtained in 1995 about how sick these tiny babies were in the first few hours after birth .
About EPICure 2
EPICure 2 collected information on all babies born in England during 2006 between the gestational ages of 22 weeks and 26 weeks + 6 days. Labour wards within the chosen geographic area recorded any birth between these gestation times and this information was sent to the EPICure 2 team. A small section of the umbilical cord attached to the placenta was examined under a microscope to look for evidence of infection or inflammation occurring in the womb before the baby was born.
Information on babies and mothers after birth was collected by an organization called CEMACH, as part of our national statistics. We worked with the people responsible for this to adapt their collection system during 2006 so that we could repeat EPICure. Two forms were completed by the people who looked after these babies on Neonatal Units. One told us what happened during the first 28 days of life and the second covered day 29 until discharge from hospital.
EPICure 2 included more details about mothers and their pregnancies than EPICure 1995 did. To do this we obtained additional help from obstetricians, lung specialists, pathologists as well as statisticians, epidemiologists and neonatologists.