Press release

‘Reducing Inequalities for Mothers and Babies’ – Discovery Days 2020

Published on 19 December 2019

A University of Dundee midwifery expert will begin the New Year by calling for improved care for mothers and babies to help save tens of thousands of lives around the world each year.

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Professor Alison McFadden is one of more than 20 professors, award-winning teachers and students from the University who will be talking about their specialist work over three days of presentations at Discovery Days 2020.

The annual event, taking place in the University’s Dalhousie Building from Wednesday 8 to Friday 10 January, will see some of the foremost researchers in their fields speak about issues such as type 2 diabetes, how science and engineering shape societies, and how design relates to environmental sustainability.

Professor McFadden, Director of the Mother and Infant Research Unit within the University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences, will draw on her research to examine what can be done to improve care and reduce inequalities for mothers and babies.

“There is a belief that women in the West no longer face the risks associated with childbirth but the reality is that there are stark inequalities in the outcomes for women and babies everywhere,” she said.

“For instance, 209 women in the UK died from causes associated with their pregnancy from 2015-17. Age, socioeconomic status, lifestyle factors and pre-existing medical conditions are all known to increase the risk and, shockingly, women from minority ethnic backgrounds are up to five times as likely as white mothers to die.

“On a global scale, the number of women and babies who die or suffer other complications is much higher in low income countries but there are significant variations within these regions as well. Evidence shows the provision of high quality midwifery can improve over 50 outcomes for women and babies.

“It has been suggested that midwifery could reduce 80% of mortalities, mostly in lower resource settings. We have looked at access to maternity services in India and there are significant barriers to women and babies receiving quality care.

“Continuity of midwifery care has also been shown to improve outcomes in the UK, so this demonstrates that it is not just high tech equipment that is important for women and babies but also one-to-one relationship support.”

Newly appointed Professors at the University will present their work at Discovery Days along with lecturers and students who have won awards for their work. Each presentation lasts for around 15 minutes, with refreshments served between sessions. Events are free to attend and everyone is welcome, with visitors having the opportunity to quiz speakers about their work.

As well as showcasing the talents of Dundee’s academics, Discovery Days 2020 will also provide visitors with a unique opportunity to witness the University Court at work.

The institution’s governing body will host a public session on Wednesday 8 January, allowing members of the public to hear from and pose questions to its leading figures.


Grant Hill

Senior Public Affairs Officer

+44 (0)1382 384768