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We actively support stillbirth research projects at Manchester University. If you would like to raise funds for this research,

'Join The Conversation' or 'Donate' via our website. 


The work we supported in 2015: 


We have completed our analysis of placental structure from different causes of stillbirth and shown that different causes of stillbirth have a different pattern of placental structure when viewed through the microscope. We have previously used these techniques in a project funded by Holly Martin Stillbirth Research Fund to show that the way a placenta is stored does not alter these measurements. We have now shown that prematurity and the length of time since a baby died do not affect these measurements. We think that adding these tests to current assessment of placental structure by a pathologist might reduce the number of unexplained stillbirths.


The paper is currently being peer-reviewed by BMC Clinical Pathology. We hope that the findings will be widely available in Spring 2016.


What has been achieved so far?


  • Since 2011 the Holly Martin Stillbirth Research Fund has provided support for consumables for six different research projects relating to stillbirth. These projects have largely focussed on the role of the placenta in stillbirth and understanding how things go wrong in fetal growth restriction (a condition in which the baby does not grow as well as it should during pregnancy). This support has meant that two Masters students, one medical student and one junior doctor have been able to undertake research projects relating to stillbirth. This funding has increased research capacity in an under-researched area. The junior doctor has now secured external funding as a Clinical Research Fellow to continue her studies of the placenta in stillbirth and how that affects subsequent pregnancies.


  • In 2014, Dr Alexander Heazell, the investigator supported by the Holly Martin Stillbirth Research Fund was awarded the Gabor Than Prize from the International Federation of Placenta Associations for his research into placental dysfunction, fetal growth restriction and stillbirth.


  • The work sponsored by the Holly Martin Stillbirth Research Fund has been presented as over 15 poster or oral presentations at conferences and 7 peer-reviewed publications.

Papers Arising From Work Supported by

The Holly Martin Stillbirth Research Fund


  • Quantitative Assessment of Placental Morphology Identifies Specific Causes of Stillbirth and Reduces the Proportion of Stillbirths of “Unknown Cause” Ptacek et al. Submitted to Placenta April 2015.






  • A metabolomic approach identifies differences in maternal serum in third trimester pregnancies that end in poor perinatal outcome. Heazell et al. Reprod Sci. 2012;19(8):863-75.


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