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Young investigator award for Waikato nurse

And the accolades just keep coming for Waikato doctor of nursing Deborah Harris and her work on the Sugar Babies study.

Dr Harris has just been advised that she and her team have been awarded a Young Investigator Award in the Neonatal Update 2013 Symposium at the Imperial College in London next month.

Dr Harris is one of two outstanding ‘young investigators’ to receive the award and will present the findings of the Sugar Babies Study – a joint Waikato Hospital and Auckland University Liggins Institute study – at the symposium.

The Sugar Babies Study – the subject of Dr Harris’ PhD – was designed to assess whether treatment with dextrose gel was more effective than feeding alone at reversing neonatal hypoglycaemia in at-risk babies.

Between 2008 and 2010, 514 at-risk babies aged 35 weeks gestation or older from Waikato Hospital were enrolled in the first 48 hours after birth.

Of those, 47 per cent became hypoglycaemic and were randomly assigned to 40 per cent dextrose gel or placebo gel for up to six doses over 48 hours.

Dextrose gel improved the blood glucose concentration in hypoglycaemic babies and those babies who received dextrose gel were less likely to be admitted to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit for treatment of hypoglycaemia, less likely to be given formula during their hospital stay and less likely to be formula feeding two weeks after birth.

“I am honoured that our research has been recognised on this platform which reflects on the great team which I am lucky to be part of,” said Dr Harris.

“However, importantly the opportunity to present our findings at this meeting means the key messages from the Sugar Babies Study will reach those who can and will influence clinical practice all over the world.”

“It is a wonderful achievement and so deserving of this honour,” said Waikato District Health Board director of nursing Sue Hayward.

“The whole team need to be congratulated for their commitment and support as the participants were identified, data gathered and now a change in practise generated from here.

“It is fitting that Deborah received this award for her vision and leadership in the research.”

This is the second year in a row that a research fellow from Waikato DHB’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit has received the award after Dr Max Berry was a recipient last year for her studies in perinatal care.

Dr Harris will make a 20-minute presentation to her peers at the Neonatal Update 2013 Symposium.


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