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Developing and implementing tools to improve pregnancy outcomes

Description BACKGROUND: Lifestyle during pregnancy has significant impact on the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby. Lifestyle behaviours such as taking recommended folate, smoking and alcohol cessation, healthy diet and optimal gestational weight gain and maintaining physical activity, all have profound effects on pregnancy health. Evidence has demonstrated that support tools for women that provide relevant information using innovative online platforms, can assist women in understanding and maintaining healthy lifestyle practices in pregnancy. This project is led by a multidisciplinary team including medicine, midwifery, IT and translation expertise. We are developing a suite of interactive pregnancy tools to optimise healthy pregnancy and beyond. These includes development of an innovative Gestational Weight Gain (GWG) calculator and implementation into current practice. The current GWG recommendations are based on four BMI bands: underweight, healthy, overweight and obese. This configuration was necessary when paper GWG charts are used. An electronic calculator will be programmed to allow continuous adjustment of the GWG recommendations to the exact BMI of the mother at the start of pregnancy. Non-linear regression coefficients will be used to convert the BMI-band recommendations into continuous values (specific for each woman). The pre-pregnancy weight will be back-extrapolated from the weight at the first antenatal visit. The proportion of rise in gestational weight at each week of gestation will be derived from audit of the local populations (specific for each population). Adjustment for different ethnic origins of mothers will be included (specific for each ethnic group). The project will also involve engagement with women and clinicians with end users and testing to optimise the tools This tool will then be integrated into our online healthy pregnancy support platform with other components including virtual patient advocates and artificial intelligence programs. In this innovative project the student will join a multidisciplinary team with 45 PhD students, strong collegiality and support within the Monash Centre for Health Research and Innovation to develop the GWG calculator and other innovative online support tools AIMS: This project aims to further develop an early prototype of a Gestational Weight Gain (GWG) Calculator and other aligned online tools. New data from over 25,000 women will be used to update and refine the internal algorithms. An app will be created that will become open source and available on the web. Validation and refinement of the GWG calculator may also be undertaken in this project. The GWG Calculator will then be integrated into the MCHRI IT platform and made freely available. PROJECTS - (short and long term projects available) For long term projects such as a PhD, we are aiming to recruit a talented candidate(s) to use data science and co-design data-driven hypotheses with women and midwives and clinicians. For example, a project is likely to investigate the data using machine learning approaches. ML approaches applied in epidemiological research can help to identify previously unrecognised risk factors and associations. For PhD students, particularly international candidates, the project is also reliant on the candidate securing scholarship funding for the project. Within this project there are also opportunities to engage with women in and clinicians in codesign are also available and to work with faculty of engineering and IT expertise integrated into clinical care.
Essential criteria: 
Minimum entry requirements can be found here:
Health services; Women, pregnant, antenatal, prenatal, health services, health services data, big data, women’s health
School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine
Available options 
Short projects
Time commitment 
Top-up scholarship funding available 
Physical location 
Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI), Clayton
Jo-anne Enticott
Shamil Cooray

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