HiPPP EMR-C International Conference addresses multidisciplinary approaches to health research across the reproductive years

Rebecca Krispin Uncategorised

Last week the HiPPP EMR-C (Health in Preconception, Pregnancy and Postpartum Early- and Mid- Career Researcher Collective) held their third annual conference, which is growing in success and popularity each year.

The conference was attended by 78 early- and mid- career researchers and postgraduate students from Australia, the UK and US. It was held in a hybrid format, with options to participate either in-person or online to maximise accessibility.

The conference theme addressed multidisciplinary approaches to HiPPP research across the globe. It included presentations on a wide range of topics addressing all stages of the reproductive years, for diverse populations in Australia and worldwide. 

The keynote address by Dr Jacynta Krakouer, a Mineng Noongar woman and Research Fellow at Monash University’s Health and Social Care Unit (HSCU), looked at taking a broad approach to health in preconception and pregnancy from a First Nations perspective.

“Many of us in this room, or those watching online, will be aware of the health inequities that exist for Indigenous peoples. This is a well-worn refrain that governments have reminded us of for decades,” said Dr Krakouer.

“In the perinatal period, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies have increased maternal mortality – four times higher than non-Indigenous women – increased preterm births, lower birth weights, and higher rates of perinatal deaths.

“I don’t say this to reaffirm the deficit narrative. I cite these facts to highlight that what is at stake for Indigenous women and their children – before, during and after birth – is a matter of life and death.

“Behind every single one of these statistics is not a number, but a human being. A woman. A mother. A baby. Including those who never got the chance to breathe on this earth.

“[We must] look at the historical and systemic factors that underpin First Nations* women and babies’ health outcomes during the perinatal period. Health promotion – whether that be in research, practice or policy – necessitat[es] a focus on systems that produce unequal outcomes.”

Dr Krakouer discussed the formation of the Australian Anti-Racism in Perinatal Practice Alliance, a group of concerned First Nations and non-Indigenous women which came together about a year ago to raise awareness of racism against First Nations women, babies and families in the perinatal period.

She emphasised that “Systemic racism is a major culprit for health inequity for First Nations women and babies in the perinatal period. And it is one that we can all take responsibility for – to combat it, to dismantle it, to raise awareness about it, and to identify when we may be complicit in upholding the status quo.”

Said HiPPP EMR-C Australia Chair Dr Briony Hill, “for me the keynote presented by Dr Krakouer was a standout.”

“Her words were raw, poignant and thought provoking.”

Added Conference Co-Chair Dr Jenna Hollis, “An early look at the conference evaluation shows that conference attendees highly valued Jacynta’s presentation and found it very interesting and inspiring.”

The keynote was followed by a packed program including 10 oral presentations, 10 rapid-fire presentations, a 4-member panel group discussion on building stakeholder relationships, a networking session and, of course, post conference drinks! 

The full program can be viewed here

The closing remarks and conference awards were delivered by CRE HiPP Director Professor Helen Skouteris, who is also Lead Mentor for the Australian collective. 

“This fabulous conference was all due the tireless work of Conference Co-Chairs Dr Jenna Hollis and Dr Megan Gow, as well as Dr Briony Hill and the whole conference organising team.”

“The presentations were fabulous and what a privilege to be among our rising stars, both in person and online.”

The HiPPP EMR-C Conference Awards were proudly presented to the following awardees:

  • Best EMCR Oral Presentation: Alayna Carrandi – Cost and cost-effectiveness of mHealth interventions supporting women during pregnancy: a systematic review
  • Best PhD Oral Presentation: Kaylee Slater – Barriers and facilitators to cardiovascular disease prevention following hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in primary health care
  • Best EMCR Rapid Fire Presentation: Maddison Henderson – Impact of health promotion interventions conducted via social media on women’s health outcomes: a systematic review
  • Best PhD Rapid Fire Presentation: Nishadi Withanage – Feasibility of using general practice electronic medical records to identify women who most require preconception care in Australia: a protocol
  • People’ Choice Award: Carolyn Ledowsky – Women taking a folic acid supplement in countries with mandatory food fortification programs may be exceeding the upper tolerable limit of folic acid

The collective is working towards an even stronger 2023. As well as HiPPP EMR-C Australia, two collectives have been started overseas: The UK Preconception EMCR Network and HiPPP ECC North America. Membership continues to grow, and the collective hopes to see more research collaborations evolving over time, including on an international scale. 

Preliminary planning is underway for an even bigger and better annual conference next year. 

“As we celebrate our success for this conference, the cogs are already in motion to plan a fantastic event for 2023. We hope to integrate the conference to multiple time zones to augment participation for our international colleagues,” said Dr Hill.

A recording of the full 2022 conference program (minus the networking session) is available to purchase at this link for $20 until 18th January 2023.

For enquiries about the HiPPP EMR-C or to find out about starting a collective in an eligible region or country, please email hippp.emrc@gmail.com

To join an existing collective click on the following links to fill out a registration form: 

*The term First Nations is used here to refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, the First Peoples of the land now known as Australia.