A Bold Idea to Address Prematurity

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Dec 13

Allegro Pediatrics

A Bold Idea to Address Prematurity

by Allegro Pediatrics

We are excited to announce that our very own Dr. David Reuter, a pediatrician in our Bothell office, is collaborating with his alma mater, Purdue University, on a Grand Challenges Explorations grant, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. To receive funding, Dr. Reuter and the team of Craig Goergen, Kirk Foster, and George Wodicka from Purdue University, demonstrated a bold idea in the area of “Wearables and Technology for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Behavior Change.” The grant will support an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Wearable low-cost automated supine pressor test for prediction of preeclampsia.”

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges.  The project is one of 51 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 19 grants recently announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

 “Three million children are born prematurely every year due to pregnancy-related high blood pressure (e.g., preeclampsia).  “As pediatricians, our primary goal is to prevent disease so that we can empower children to reach their full potential,” said Dr. Reuter.  “Addressing the problem of prematurity and preeclampsia could have profound implications for women and children globally.”  Supported by a philanthropic gift from Seattle Children’s Hospital, Dr. Reuter explored the impact of a mother’s resting position on kidney blood flow and blood pressure. When a mother rolls on her back, blood flow through the kidney is reduced and blood pressure increases.  Dr. Reuter’s team is striving to manage the resting position through pregnancy to both predict and prevent preeclampsia. The increase in blood pressure associated with changing position from lying on the left side to lying on the back has previously been shown to predict preeclampsia; the test is termed the supine pressor test.

“The importance of collaborating with Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering is that engineers bring a unique skill set to bear on medical problems,” said Dr. Reuter, a Purdue engineering alumnus. “Engineers are trained to study complicated problems in order to develop straightforward, creative solutions.”  The team from Purdue will develop a wearable sensor that can automatically measure blood pressure and body position, then transmit the results using smartphone technology to a remote medical home. As such, they intend to integrate the scientific insights established by Dr. Reuter’s team from Allegro Pediatrics and Seattle Children’s Hospital, with the previously established supine pressor test data, to better predict and prevent preeclampsia. 

To learn more about Dr. Reuter, visit his profile or read our blog post about his research.


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