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A global research project that aims to improve the health, nutritional status and development of preterm infants has been awarded a $2.8 million grant from the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation (FLRF).

Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation representatives meet the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson and members of the INTERGROWTH-21st Project, Professor Jose Villar and Professor Stephen Kennedy. © Ian Wallman / IWPhotographic

The Swiss based foundation promotes research in human milk and lactation, and formed the new partnership with the University of Oxford by supporting the work of the INTERGROWTH-21st Project.

The FLRF partnership is aimed at improving the overall health, nutritional status and development of high-risk infants, as well as training the next generation of neonatologists and paediatricians in evidence-based feeding and monitoring practices for preterm infants.

The partnership has three main objectives: 1) to establish an online community of health professionals to apply the INTERGROWTH-21st Project’s feeding protocol and international Preterm Postnatal Growth Standards (PPGS) for monitoring growth; 2) the implementation of the feeding protocol and PPGS into selected, influential neonatal units around the world, and 3) to gain high-level health policy support for implementing the feeding protocol and PPGS.

Professor Stephen Kennedy, co-leader of the project, explained: “We are very proud of this project because PPGS are the first postnatal growth standards for preterm infants and are valid for use in all populations around the world. Global adoption of these standards is a vital tool for promoting breastfeeding in neonatal units and infant clinics around the world so as to improve the survival and health of preterm infants.”

Michael Larsson, Chairman of the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation, said: “Children should have the best possible nutritional start in life. This is even more important for preterm infants with their special needs and heightened risks.

“Our foundation is dedicated to promoting projects which focus on increasing research-based evidence on human milk and to ensure it is considered a matter of course worldwide. Therefore, we are delighted to partner with the University of Oxford by supporting the INTERGROWTH-21st Consortium in their implementation efforts.”

Led by Professors Stephen Kennedy and José Villar, INTERGROWTH-21st is one of the largest collaborative projects to-date in the field of maternal and perinatal health research, involving more than 300 doctors, scientists and healthcare workers from 27 institutions in 18 countries worldwide.

The project has developed a package of clinical tools to standardise how the growth, nutritional status and neurodevelopment of preterm infants are assessed and monitored, to enhance human milk feeding for preterm infants, avoid overfeeding, reduce the risk of childhood overweight and obesity, and improve early detection of infants with sub-optimal growth.

Professor José Villar said: “We are delighted to receive the generous donation from the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation and are grateful for the opportunity, as part of this ground-breaking project, to improve the overall health, nutritional status and development of preterm infants.

“With the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation’s support we will be able to implement the feeding protocol and PPGS for monitoring growth around the world and contribute to long-term improvements in the health of preterm infants.”


photo L-R: Professor Jose Villar, Janet Prince, Reto Larsson, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson, Michael Larsson, Katharina Lichtner, Professor Stephen Kennedy. Members of the IINTERGROWTH-21st Project and the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation meet the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University.

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