Swansea University wins £2m to look at Welsh mums and climate change

Swansea University has been awarded more than £2 million in research funding to look at the impact of climate change on mums-to-be.

The £2.2 million research funding from Wellcome, echoes an international push to understand how mothers are dealing with climate change, particularly the effects of heat. It will focus on mums from deprived communities in Wales and in London, analysing linked temperature, maternal health data, and mum’s biological response to heat; and will invite mums to take part in focus groups and interviews.

Principal Investigator Dr Richard Fry, from Swansea University Medical School, is leading the research team of data and climate scientists, midwives, doctors and other researchers.

He said: “There are many studies of maternal health and climate change in other countries, but this is the first of this type in the UK. It’s desperately important that we understand this better, because recent heat waves have shown how difficult this can be for pregnant women.

“Over the next few years, we will be analysing the data, and more importantly talking to mums about their experiences. Maternal and child health is a cornerstone of Swansea University research and Welsh policy in the form of the Future Generations Act, so this a subject close to our hearts and we’re really excited to be able to bring our skills to better understand a subject of global importance.”

The research began in January 2024 when the University looked for mums to take part in the research. They were asked about their experiences and invited to talk about their views and feelings about climate change.

Later in the study, mums and dads will part in a series of workshops aimed at giving them the skills to make their voices heard by politicians and policymakers.

Madeleine Thomson, Head of Climate Impacts and Adaptation at Wellcome, said: “The UK isn’t immune to the health risks of climate change, as we have seen with unprecedented heatwaves in recent years. Excessive exposure to extreme heat is dangerous for anyone, but that risk is amplified if you’re pregnant – for both mother and baby.

“But we still know relatively little about how exactly extreme heat affects mothers and babies, and importantly, what the solutions might be.

“We hope that this project will begin to fill some of these gaps and inform policy to protect the health of those most vulnerable to climate change.”

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