University of Calgary’s Preterm Birth Study Reaches a Key Milestone

March 11, 2024

Researchers at the University of Calgary have reached a significant milestone in their study to better predict and prevent preterm birth and the associated adverse consequences for families. Preterm birth is a critical concern in maternal and child health. By successfully enrolling over 2,000 participants in their P3 Cohort study, researchers are another step closer to unraveling some of the mysteries of preterm birth.

“I think it’s such an important study, so I’ve enjoyed being able to help.” One of the cohort’s participants said about the study. “It’s really thorough and has kind of provided me with a nice overview of what’s going on in my life throughout the pregnancy and first year [of parenthood].”

In Alberta, preterm births at less than 37 weeks of gestation represent 8% of total births, a rate that is notably higher compared to other North American regions. Preterm birth can be devastating for families and is a leading cause of brain damage in infants and subsequent developmental and behavioral issues later in life.

The underlying reasons for preterm birth are still largely unknown, but the P3 Cohort Team is diligently working to uncover the reasons behind this major health concern.

Dr. Donna Slater, a team lead of the cohort whose research focuses on the human uterus, is exploring the molecular processes that contribute to pregnancy-related issues like preterm labor, with a particular emphasis on the impact of inflammatory biomarkers. “Preterm birth is a major health concern, for the babies that are born too soon, and for the families who care for them. The P3 Cohort team together with the participants enrolled in the study hope to uncover the underlying causes of preterm birth,” she stated along with fellow team lead and neonatologist, Dr. Lara Leijser, whose current research work focuses on deepening our knowledge of the brain development in preterm infants and exploring the associated neurodevelopmental and behavioral outcomes.

The P3 Cohort aims to improve on the current ability to predict preterm births and to create strategies for prevention —a goal that can only be achieved in numbers, and as more participants enroll in the study. The enrollment of 2000 participants marks a pivotal advancement in data collection and analysis, paving the way for new insights into this crucial field of maternal and child health.

“Longitudinal cohort studies such as the P3 Cohort provide important information about how health care services and policies influence the health and wellbeing of local families. The data generated from the P3 Cohort can be used to help improve outcomes for families now and in the future.” Dr. Amy Metcalfe, an epidemiologist and team lead for the P3 Cohort, said in response to the study reaching 2000 active participants.

The University of Calgary invites eligible individuals to contribute to this essential research. By participating, you can play a role in advancing our understanding of preterm birth and improving outcomes for countless families.

Individuals are eligible to join the P3 Cohort Study if they are less than 32 weeks pregnant with a single baby, 16 years of age or older, residing in the Calgary Zone, and able to complete written questionnaires in English.

For more information or to participate in the P3 Cohort Study, please visit The study is funded by the Calgary Health Foundation and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

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