Maternal, Infant and Child Health
Helen Ball has received substantial funding to conduct community, laboratory, and clinical research into issues of night-time infant care and its relationship to both SIDS and breastfeeding. She directs a purpose-built laboratory (the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab) at the Queen’s Campus in Durham, which has facilities for the observation and physiological monitoring of parent and child sleep using infra-red video and a custom-designed remote physiological monitoring system.
Professor Ball and her research team collaborate with staff from the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle to apply an evolutionary medicine perspective to infant care on the post-natal ward. This research programme has led to over 100 invited research presentations to health care staff worldwide, and consultation on international and national-level policy and guidance concerning breastfeeding and infant sleep. Professor Ball's collaboration with Professor Carolyn Summerbell (Durham University's Obesity Related Behaviours Group) and Stockton Children's Centres examines the relationship beween childhood obesity and sleep duration of preschoolers and addresses an issue of pressing national concern.