Preventing cerebral palsy in premature babies: the PReCePT programme

Premature birth is the main cause of brain injury and cerebral palsy in babies. Evidence shows that babies can be protected from brain injury by giving magnesium sulphate to women who are at risk of having a premature delivery. This reduces the risk of cerebral palsy in a third of cases.

A Quality Improvement (QI) approach, PReCePT (Prevention of cerebral palsy in pre-term labour) was co-designed in 2014 with parents and staff from University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, in collaboration with the West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN).

Quality Improvement is a systematic, formal approach to analysing the performance of health services and efforts to improve performance.

PReCePT gives practical tools and training to support staff in hospital settings to consider administering magnesium sulphate to eligible women. It was piloted in five NHS trusts across the West of England in 2015, aiming to raise awareness of evidence and improve the uptake of magnesium sulphate to protect babies’ brains in pre-term deliveries.

PReCePT is being scaled up across England as one of seven programmes selected for adoption and spread across the national AHSN Network during 2018-2020. This work will be led by the West of England AHSN. The AHSNs are implementing PReCePT using a network QI approach in all 152 maternity units across England.

The Clinical Lead is Dr Karen Luyt, a neonatologist at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol. NIHR CLAHRC West are evaluating the programme.

Nested within the national programme is a research trial, the PReCePT study. NIHR CLAHRC West is undertaking a separate evaluation of the research trial.

Project aims

Our project will evaluate the national PReCePT programme. The programme aims to support all maternity units in England to increase their average uptake of magnesium sulphate to eligible women (where the pregnancy is less than 30 weeks gestation) during preterm labour to 85 per cent, with a stretch target of 95 per cent for high performing units, by 2020.

Anticipated impacts

The programme aims to facilitate the uptake of magnesium sulphate in pre-term deliveries, ultimately reducing brain injury and instances of cerebral palsy.

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CLAHRC West staff

Liz Hill

Liz Hill

  • Research Project Manager

Dr Theresa Redaniel

Rita Patel

Dr Rita Patel

Debbie McPhee

  • Information Officer
  • Management and administration

Partners on this project

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust is a dynamic group of hospitals in the heart of Bristol, with over 100 clinical services across nine sites. They offer care to the people of Bristol and the South West, and have an international reputation for cardiac surgery, paediatric services, oncology and bone marrow transplantation and are the largest centre for medical training and research in the South West.

University of Bristol

The University of Bristol is internationally renowned and one of the very best in the UK, due to its outstanding teaching and research, its superb facilities and highly talented students and staff. Its students thrive in a rich academic environment which is informed by world-leading research. It hosts the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute for Health Research.

West of England Academic Health Science Network

The West of England Academic Health Science Network is a diverse network of partners working collaboratively to put innovation at the heart of healthcare, to improve patient outcomes and contribute to wealth creation. It aims to do this by translating research into practice, and developing and implementing integrated health care services.