PROTECT Me Trial | Ronick’s story

By Rob Clancy, staff writer

Professor Suzanne Miller and her team’s PROTECT Me Trial is providing hope to parents of our most vulnerable babies like Ronick.

Hannah, Professor Suzanne Miller holding baby Ronick and Nav, PROTECT Me Trial participants
L-R: Hannah, Professor Suzanne Miller holding baby Ronick, Nav

A leader in the field of fetal and neonatal physiology and brain injury, Prof Miller is working to prevent and treat the neurodevelopmental disorders that can have lifelong effects.

“The developing brain is fascinating. The fetal brain is exquisitely sensitive to the in-utero environment. We are still learning how compromise during pregnancy affects the baby’s brain development and long-term neurological outcomes.” Professor Suzanne Miller

World-first PROTECT Me Trial

One of her projects is the world-first PROTECT Me Trial, using melatonin to combat the effects of fetal growth restriction (FGR) – a major cause of cardiovascular disease, lung and brain injury in the newborn – as well as contributing to the ongoing development of cerebral palsy, autism, learning and other behavioural dysfunctions.

“My research goal is to see fewer children with cerebral palsy or learning disabilities because of new preventions and treatments my team has developed for neonatal brain injury.”

Ronick’s story

When doctors told Hannah after her 28-week scan that her baby’s growth was well behind schedule, she was understandably concerned – especially in light of previous miscarriages.

Baby Ronick and mum Hannah
L-R: Mum Hannah and baby Ronick

So, when staff at her Monash Health obstetric check-up asked if she would like to take part in the PROTECT Me Trial, she and husband Nav did not hesitate.

“I believe in science. I trust the doctors and midwives, so I decided to join the trial as soon as I knew there was an issue with my baby’s growth,” she said.

Every week, she returned for a scan with an instruction to “pack your bags because you may need an emergency C-section at any time”.

Baby Ronick waited another seven weeks to come into the world. He weighed 1.88kg (small, but still much more than expected) and gave a good healthy cry when he arrived.

“We were so relieved to have a healthy baby!” Hannah said.

Ronick’s progress will be monitored, like the other 335 babies in the trial, and once they have reached their second birthday, the effectiveness of melatonin treatment will be assessed.

Hannah and Nav are proud to have played their part in advancing medical science.

Hudson Institute Annual Report 2022

Collaborators | Monash Health; Monash University

Funders |  Cerebral Palsy Alliance; Inner Wheel Australia; NHMRC

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