09 November 2022


Online 2pm - 3pm BST

For the second of the CO Research Trust’s Autumn lecture series, we were delighted to be joined by Hilary Wareing who discussed recent research on the effect of carbon monoxide exposure (CO) on the unborn child.

Hilary is the Director of IPIP, a consortium of public health practitioners. She has a background in health service research and management as well as a clinical background in general nursing, midwifery and health visiting.

Hilary’s main areas of interest are developing the wider public health workforce and supporting organisations to implement evidence-based practice and improve performance in practice. Hilary leads a qualitative and quantitative study to better understand the scale and impact of environmental exposure to CO during pregnancy.

There are approximately 650,000 live births in England each year with about 4,700 perinatal deaths (3,200 stillbirths and 1,400 neonatal deaths) in the same year. Of this figure, over 1,500 will be classified as unexplained deaths. It is unknown if any of these deaths were the result of CO poisoning of the pregnant woman.

Studies show that death in the first month of life, along with congenital malformations and neurological problems, can occur with moderate to severe maternal exposure to CO. Studies also conclude that such outcomes cannot be excluded even when exposure is at lower levels.

The study, which has been funded partially by the CO Research Trust, seeks to provide an understanding of the scale of the problem and what is required to happen in order to protect a pregnant woman and her unborn child. However, the study is not considering the levels of CO that may be harmful or treatment pathways. This presentation will show the outcomes of the project to support the development of protocols and pathways for the identification of those who are in danger of harm along with appropriate treatment pathways.

Published literature was reviewed to gain an understanding of:

• What we know about the harm of moderate or severe CO exposure to the unborn child.

• Current knowledge about how best to identify those women who are being exposed.

• The evidence regarding how pregnant women should be treated to minimise harm to her and the unborn child.

• The gaps in knowledge regarding identification and treatment.

This was then collated as a short paper which was considered by a panel of experts who considered –

• What the available information tells us about how best to identify and treat pregnant women and unborn babies impacted by moderate or severe levels of CO.

• What are the gaps in knowledge and understanding.

• How and by whom the gaps can be filled.

To find out more about this project visit the project page here.

See below to watch the presentation in full.