Maternity nurse with patient & baby

Women & Children's Current Research

The Women and Children’s Research Unit conducts research that aims to improve the care of women and children using Obstetrics and Gynaecology services. This includes pre-conception services though to postnatal care.

The Unit collaborates widely with other disciplines and professions, as well as with women and their companions, to develop ground-breaking research and care, for our patients and throughout the NHS.

Please speak to the person treating you to find out if there is a research study that may be able to help you.

Maternity Studies:


Breastfeeding can improve health of mothers and babies, but fewer UK women breastfeed compared to other countries. Many women stop breastfeeding within the first two weeks; most would have liked more support to help them continue. Younger mothers and those from lower income homes are less likely to breastfeed.

The aim of the trial is to find out whether a ‘feeding helper’ service (ABA-feed) that supports women to feed their babies helps them to breastfeed for longer and whether it is good value for money.

We will invite women aged 16 years or over expecting their first baby who have given informed consent, 20+0 to 35+6 weeks gestation at 10-15 sites to take part, approaching them in antenatal/scanning clinics. 2730 women will be allocated by chance to either receive usual care for feeding or the additional ABA-feed service.

‘Feeding helpers will respect women’s feeding choices. They will help them identify friends/family who may help and will provide information about local groups, helplines and websites about infant feeding. They will provide a ‘listening ear’ when women have had their baby.

We will train existing peer supporters to become ‘feeding helpers. They will contact women around 30 weeks of pregnancy and meet to talk about infant feeding; then keep in contact throughout pregnancy. After birth, the feeding helper will contact mothers daily for 2 weeks by text message or phone and refer those with particular difficulties to specialist feeding support. Women will be offered less frequent texts until their babies are 8 weeks old as participant preference.

At 3 days, 8, 16 and 24 weeks after birth, women will be sent a text/web link which asks how they are feeding their baby. We will compare breastfeeding rates at 8-weeks between women who did/did not receive support from feeding helpers. We will interview women, feeding helpers and health care professionals about their experience of the service.

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Ms Marion Copeland
Planned end date: 31/08/2022
Local Ref: 4985


Question: In women with pregnancy hypertension, what is the short-term blood pressure (BP) response to antihypertensive agents and how is this related to clinical effectiveness?

Recruitment: 45 women between 13-34 weeks gestation

The Baby PANDA study will look closely at the short-term changes in blood pressure in the hours after pregnant women take their blood pressure tablets.  We will also measure levels of certain markers in the blood and urine. We want to use this information to work out why some medication may suit some women more than others.

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Dr Christy Burden
Planned end date: 30/06/2023
Local Ref: 5283


Aim: To evaluate the effect of different antihypertensive drugs in women with pregnancy hypertension on maternal and fetal/neonatal outcomes

Recruiting: 45 women between 13-34 weeks gestation

This study is looking at which blood pressure medication is best for pregnant women and people who are pregnant with high blood pressure and their babies.

We will compare two medications called labetalol and nifedipine. Both have been widely used to treat high blood pressure in pregnancy for many years. Both are considered safe in pregnancy.

Around half of participants taking part in this study will be asked to take labetalol and the other half nifedipine. The group you are in will be decided by chance. Your healthcare team would be happy with you having either.

For more information, please visit the study website.

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Dr Christy Burden
Planned end date: 30/06/2023
Local Ref: 5283


Aim: Whether women follow the NHS guidance on foods to avoid or limit during pregnancy, specifically on types of fish and game-meat/gamebirds, and whether is associated with biomarker concentrations of toxic metals

Recruitment: 300 women between 11-33 weeks gestation

Diet is an important factor for every pregnancy in the health and development of the baby. There’s plenty of advice and guidance on diet in pregnancy, including from the NHS, but we’d like to find out whether this advice really helps women to make positive changes to their diets at this important time, particularly guidance on foods to avoid or cut back on. We’d also like to know how your local environment affects your diet. As a result of the study, we’ll be able to suggest changes to the guidance that will make sure it’s clear, easy to access and simple to follow.

For more information, please visit the PEAR study website.

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Ms Sarah Coates
Local Ref: 5228


Children of the 90s is a group of around 14,500 children born in the Avon area in 1991 and 1992. Scientists have been studying them ever since and are constantly making discoveries that make a difference to lives around the world.

Some now have children of their own, and we want to follow these pregnancies, births and babies. We call this Children of the Children of the 90s, or COCO90s for short. This is the only project we know of that provides scientists with information on three generations, allowing them to study important social and health issues.

If you or your partner are in Children of the 90s and are about to become or are already a parent, we'd love you, your partner and all your children to take part in COCO90s. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you have been involved in Children of the 90s in the past -- this is a new opportunity to be involved in ground-breaking research.

For more information about this study, visit the CoCo90s website.

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Ms Mary Alvarez
Planned end date: 31/12/2021
Local Ref: 2801


An exciting new study is being run in the South-West. Women with newly diagnosed gestational diabetes under the care of the Specialist Diabetic Care Teams at North Bristol NHS Trust and Somerset Foundation Trust may be offered the opportunity to take part in RECOGNISE.

The aim of the study is to find out if it’s possible to carry out research to see if wearing a continuous blood sugar monitor improves mother and baby health in women with Gestational Diabetes Mellitus(GDM). 

Read full details here.

NICU Studies:


Aim: The DOLFIN trial is a research study looking at whether giving a specially developed nutritional supplement via breast or formula milk for the first year of life helps with brain development. If your baby was born less than 28 weeks old or is receiving cooling therapy, you may be approached about the study.

Recruitment: 30 babies born at less than 28 weeks or receiving cooling therapy.

A small UK study has been carried out and the results were promising, but we need to find out more.  About 500 babies nationally will take part in the study so that we can find out whether the supplement improves neurological child development. Half will receive the nutrient supplement and half will a get a dummy (placebo). You will not know which treatment your baby will receive.  Joining the study involves you giving the supplement daily to your baby until the date they would have turned one.

For more information, please visit the DOLFIN trial website.

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Dr Amiel Billietop
Planned end date: 31/05/2024
Local Ref: 5131


Around 8% of UK babies are born premature at birth and 12% of these are born between 30 and 33 weeks. Currently, most preterm babies are fed through a drip into their veins (intravenous) and given small amounts of milk by a small tube into their stomach, slowly increasing until they are fully milk fed. Doctors are wary of feeding premature babies with full milk straight after birth due to a potentially life-threatening gut condition called necrotising enterocolitis (NEC). Evidence suggests that in premature babies who aren't too poorly, larger milk feeds can be successfully given within 48 hours of birth without increasing the risk of NEC and death and could reduce the risk of severe infection.

We will compare the two different groups: the 'full milk' group will be given milk to provide all their fluid needs from the first day of life and increased over a few days unless they are struggling with this (e.g. if it makes them very sick). In the 'gradual milk' group, babies will be initially fed through their veins, increasing milk feeds slowly and reducing IV fluids until they are fully milk fed, which is current practice. Mothers will be identified at Antenatal clinic or within 3 hours of early arrival. The groups will be decided at random by a computer giving each baby an equal chance of being in either group.

We want to know if feeding babies with only milk from the first day of life can avoid babies having fluids through a drip (IV). It may be that giving milk only could reduce infections, reduce the number of days in hospital and therefore reduce the overall costs to parents and to the NHS.

For more information, please visit the study website.

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Dr Richard Wach
Planned end date: 31/07/2023
Local Ref: 4980


Aim: This research project compares two ways we may adjust a commonly used treatment, called positive end-expiratory pressure (or PEEP), to help premature babies’ lungs in the first few minutes after birth.  

Recruitment80 babies born before 29 weeks of pregnancy.

The POLAR Trial is a large clinical trial, being conducted in 25 hospitals around the world, including Australia, Europe, the United Kingdom and the USA.

This trial will establish how to best support the fragile lungs of very premature babies born between 23 and 28 weeks of pregnancy immediately after birth.

We are comparing two approaches to PEEP levels given to preterm babies’ lungs at birth. We will put your baby into one of two groups, static or dynamic PEEP.  

All the babies in the same group receive the same treatment.  The results are later compared to see if one is better. 

For more information, please visit the POLAR study website.                                                                                          

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Dr Charles Roeher
Planned end date: 30/06/2026
Local Ref: 5152


Aim: To investigate whether in late preterm and early term infants with respiratory distress the early use of surfactant versus expectant management results in a shorter duration of hospital stay and fewer infants who fail to respond to treatment.

Recruiting: Infants born between 34+0- and 28+6-weeks’ gestation admitted to a Neonatal Unit (NNU) with respiratory distress and for whom a clinical decision has been made to provide non-invasive respiratory support.

For more information, please visit the SurfOn website.

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Dr Amiel Billietop
Planned end date: 30/06/2023
Local Ref: 4949

Fertility Studies:


The Bristol IVF Study has been set up to investigate the success of IVF treatment.

Led by Professor Debbie Lawlor and Dr Amy Taylor at the University of Bristol and Dr Valentine Akande at the BCRM. We are recruiting women, and their partners, undergoing IVF treatment. We are inviting individuals/couples who become pregnant, following IVF treatment, to attend pregnancy clinics at the University of Bristol. This will help to understand more about the impact of IVF treatment on short and longer term outcomes.

We recruited our first couple to the study in September 2019.

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Dr Amanda Jeffreys
Planned end date: 31/03/2022

Local Ref: 4526

Gynaecology Studies:


Your local colposcopy clinic is taking part in a national study on self-sampling for human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is very common. It can sometimes cause abnormal cells in the cervix which, if left untreated, can turn into cervical cancer over time. Self-sampling is a new method of testing for HPV, and the results of this study will help the national cervical screening programme decide if it could be a choice in the future. If it is included in the programme, this could be done at home and could increase access to screening.

Recruiting: Eligible women attending colposcopy clinics

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Dr Tracey Appleyard
Planned end date: 30/06/2023
Local Ref: 5059


Aim: To compare laparoscopic removal versus diagnostic laparoscopy alone in terms of participants’ pain at 12 months post randomisation

Recruitment: 20 eligible women with endometriosis.

Around 50% of women with chronic pelvic pain will have a condition called endometriosis which can only be diagnosed by laparoscopy (a keyhole operation).  In women with endometriosis, cells similar to those lining the womb are found outside the womb on the lining of the pelvis (called the peritoneum).

We   want   to   determine   whether removing   superficial   peritoneal   endometriosis improves painful symptoms and quality of life, which surgical approach may be best (ablation or excision), or whether surgery is of no benefit, worsens symptoms or may even cause harm. For us to prove this, we will need 400 women to be entered into our national trial.

For more information, please visit the Esprit2 website.

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Dr Jessica Preshaw
Planned end date: 31/08/2024
Local Ref: 5217


A randomised controlled trial comparing the clinical and cost-effectiveness of long-term Gonadotrophin Releasing Hormone Analogues (GnRHa) with add-back hormone replacement therapy (HRT) compared to laparoscopic conservative surgery (excision or ablation of endometriosis) in women with recurrent pain following surgical treatment of endometriosis.

Recruitment: 400 women nationally

This study is looking at treatment for recurrent pain following surgery for endometriosis. We are trying to find out if a medication called Gonadotrophin Releasing Hormone Analogues (GnRHa) with add-back hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is an alternative treatment to further laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery for endometriosis.  We are recruiting Women aged between 21–49 years with recurrence of pain following previous conservative surgical treatment (excision or ablation) of endometriosis but who wish to avoid removal of ovaries and hysterectomy.                                                                   

For more information, please visit the REGAL study website.

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Dr Jessica Preshaw
Planned end date: 31/03/2024
Local Ref: 5202


Aim: To evaluate the potential benefit of Graduated Compression Stockings (GCS) in the prevention of Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) in patients undergoing short-stay surgical procedures, assessed as being at low-risk for VTE.

Recruitment: Women having surgery on Cotswold ward who meet the eligibility criteria

Status: Open to recruitment

People having short stay surgery (who either go home the same day or who stay overnight but go home shortly afterwards) are at a much lower risk of developing a blood clot than those who stay in hospital for longer. These low-risk people are often given elastic stockings (which squeeze the leg muscles) to reduce the chance of a blood clot. The risks of wearing the stockings are low but they can be uncomfortable. In the UK, there are over a million short stay surgeries performed each year and most of these people are given elastic stockings to wear. Stockings cost the NHS a lot of money and it remains unknown if they benefit these people.    

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Dr Iffy Offiah
Planned end date: 31/12/2024
Local Ref: 5200                       


What is the most effective treatment is for women who have pelvic pain caused by deep endometriosis?

Recruiting: 24 eligible women with deep endometriosis

This clinical  research study  will  help  gynaecologists,  GPs,  patients  and  health  services  decision-makers understand what the most effective treatment is for women who have pelvic pain caused by deep endometriosis. At the moment, there are two treatment options available for women with deep endometriosis.  However, it is unclear which treatment is the best to offer to patients.  The way we find this out is to conduct what is called a randomised controlled trial, also called an RCT.In this study, we want to compare medical (hormonal) management with surgery to see which is better for treating your symptoms.

For more information, please visit the DIAMOND study website.

Project Details
Principal Investigator: Dr Islam Gamaleldin
Planned end date: 31/12/2025
Local Ref: 5255

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Find out more about our research and how we're working to improve patient care.

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Research & Development
North Bristol NHS Trust
Level 3, Learning & Research building
Southmead Hospital
Bristol, BS10 5NB

Telephone: 0117 4149330