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Reproductive Health and Childbirth specialty profile



Why you should deliver reproductive health and childbirth research in the UK

Reproductive Health and Childbirth is one of the largest recruiting specialties on the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) portfolio. We cover the full range of clinical subspecialties in women’s healthcare, including:

• maternal-fetal medicine
• benign gynaecology (including fibroids, menstrual disorders, and endometriosis)
• urogynaecology
• reproductive medicine
• gynaeoncology
• family planning
• post-reproductive medicine

We are able to engage with approximately 700,000 women giving birth each year in the UK, as well as the many others attending gynaecology clinics and women’s health care services throughout the NHS. Our portfolio covers research council, government, charity and industry-sponsored studies.

The NIHR CRN provides researchers with the infrastructure they need to carry out research within in the NHS and the wider health and social care environment. As well as providing research delivery staff, we also bring together communities of clinical practice to provide national networks of research expertise. The Reproductive Health and Childbirth Specialty is one of 30 such communities and is made up of leading research-interested clinicians and practitioners at both national and local levels. Our job is to ensure that the reproductive health and childbirth studies we support are delivered to time and target. We can provide:


The Reproductive Health and Childbirth Specialty in the UK has strong leadership and expertise given the leading roles of UK academics in research in this specialty area. Strong engagement with patient groups and interaction with the Clinical Studies Groups from the Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology means research targets and goals can be realistically discussed with experienced clinician-scientists. We have a dedicated national Industry Lead for commercial studies who provides strategic direction as well as an operational link between industry, NIHR and researchers.

Access to patients

The UK is unique in that its nationalised health service has strong support from the population, who are willing to participate in research studies. The Reproductive Health and Childbirth Specialty is consistently one of the highest recruiters to studies of all the specialty groups. Since 2015, over 340,000 participants have been recruited into CRN Reproductive Health and Childbirth portfolio studies (including over 92,000 in 2018/19) - equating to an average recruitment of a patient every seven minutes through each day and night. In 2018/19, these women were recruited from over 813 sites across
268 NHS trusts.

Track record

The Reproductive Health and Childbirth Specialty consistently meets recruitment targets with 83 per cent of studies delivered to time and target in 2018/19. We engage with a network of skilled research nurses and midwives to ensure the highest research standards (MHRA, IMP, GCP and GLP) are maintained in delivering studies. We facilitate discussions with sponsors, providing early feedback, site intelligence and site identification services.


The specialty works in an integrated way with patients, policymakers and clinical governing bodies allowing standardised evidence-based care across the country. The strong spirit of collaboration means that finding additional centres to take part in research is never a problem. This is clearly seen in the consistently high number of participants recruited.

Case studies

In each of these case studies the research support provided by the NIHR CRN, embedded within NHS infrastructure, has ensured they have been undertaken to the highest clinical research standards.


The HABSelect study was a multicentre, randomised controlled trial designed to evaluate the use of physiologic sperm selection for Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. This study recruited over 3,200 couples from 16 sites over a 30 month period.


The Inspire and Parrot studies evaluated the roles of sFlt1 and PlGF in the diagnosis of preeclampsia and have led to the adoption of both as diagnostic biomarkers by the NICE Diagnostics Advisory Committee ( This will reduce the number of patients admitted to hospital thought to have preeclampsia that do not, preventing the stress/anxiety this causes the mother and saving valuable NHS resources.

With the support of the NIHR CRN, Inspire and Parrot both exceeded their recruitment targets within agreed timeframes. Inspire recruited 381 participants (target = 366) from one site and Parrot recruited 1,058 participants (target = 504) across 12 sites.

Find out more

Visit our reproductive health and childbirth specialty page or access our Study Support Service.