Diamond Celebrations for Children’s Charity

Children’s charity Action Medical Research is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year by marking their contribution to medical innovation in Scotland. Support from the charity in Scotland – an investment of more than £6.3 million over the past 30 years – has funded a wide range of projects in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews, helping save and change children’s lives.

Amongst those projects which the charity has supported are:

Ultrasound scanning in pregnancy
Edinburgh Professor Ian Donald was credited with having pioneered the development of obstetric ultrasound to monitor the babies’ development in the womb. During the 1970s and 1980s the charity awarded Donald and colleagues grants that supported the development of ultrasound techniques. Today, ultrasound scanning is routine during pregnancy across the world and is estimated to have almost halved the death rate for babies at birth.1

Glasgow Coma Scale
The charity supported the development of the famous Glasgow Coma Scale published in 1974. The revolutionary scale is still the UK standard for assessing head injury severity, with ambulance crews trained in its use. It has also been translated into several languages and is used daily worldwide.

Duncan Guthrie Institute of Medical Genetics
The Duncan Guthrie Institute of Medical Genetics in Glasgow, the first of its kind in Europe, has received considerable support from Action Medical Research. As well as research and teaching, the institute conducts many different genetic tests; for example testing samples from newborn babies all over Scotland for cystic fibrosis.

Obesity research
Research at the University of Aberdeen hopes to tackle the growing obesity crisis. Investigations are focusing on the brain’s energy balance circuit, which plays a key role in natural weight control. Results recently published show that non-high fat, calorie restricted diets are not only linked with weight loss but also alter the brain’s energy balance circuit – reducing rebound weight gain.

Eye tracker
A new system that uses infa-red light to track the movement of the eye has also been developed by researchers at the University of Edinburgh. The eye tracker device is used to diagnose visual field defects in children, which can be a sign of a more serious brain tumour. A prototype is already being used at the Edinburgh Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

Tackling stillbirth
Other research in Edinburgh is investigating ways to uncover which babies are at risk of being stillborn due to problems with the placenta. The placenta carries oxygen and food from the mother’s blood supply to the baby; if not working properly, the baby can stop growing properly. State-of-the-art MRI scans are being used to detect low oxygen levels in babies in the womb.

Still more to do
Although the charity has helped save and change so many children’s lives, there is still much more to learn about what triggers diseases, how to prevent them and how to develop effective new treatments and find the best ways to care for sick babies and children.

As Scotland continues to conduct medical research of the highest standard, Action Medical Research will remain a significant supporter of this work. For information about supporting the work of Action Medical Research, helping to raise funds through  Bike Rides, Treks or Ladies Lunches, check the website or  contact Janet@action.org.uk or phone 01505 864334.

1. Leivo T, Tuominen R, Saari-Kemppainen A, Ylöstalo P, Karjalainen O, Heinonen OP. Cost-effectiveness of one-stage ultrasound screening in pregnancy: a report from the Helsinkiultrasound trial. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 1996 May;7(5):309-14

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