The ability to conduct studies of maternal health using electronic health records depends crucially on identifying pregnancy episodes in the data source. While primary care records provide a rich source of maternity data, the precise timing of pregnancy can often be difficult to ascertain. To address this, we have been working with researchers from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) to develop a new pregnancy identification algorithm which makes optimal use of pregnancy-related records relating to the timing and duration of pregnancy, the type of outcome (live birth, stillbirth or early pregnancy loss) and additional features pertaining to the pregnancy. The output of this joint collaboration will be a pregnancy register which will be made available to CPRD users working in pregnancy-related research in due course. This work is part of the wider programme of research of the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Immunisation.
Examples of work we have undertaken or are now initiating in the areas of maternal health include:
- a study showing increased risk of pre-eclampsia following specific infections in pregnancy
- studies to investigate social factors associated with lower uptake of vaccines among pregnant women, and the safety of vaccines given in pregnancy (see our Vaccines page)
- studies of the effects of autoimmune diseases and their therapies on pregnancy outcomes (see our Autoimmune Diseases page)