Game-Changing Hobart Method Receives Global Recognition

Published on
14 December 2021
Foundation Funded Researcher Professor Peter Dargaville

Tassie’s own Prof Peter Dargaville has been bestowed with a prestigious honour today as the outcomes from his clinical trial gained coverage in the internationally acclaimed Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

After its genesis at the Royal Hobart Hospital just over ten years ago, the global study has proven that The Hobart Method is a better approach to supporting the breathing patterns of premature babies.  It has already been clinically proven as a life-saver and a game-changer.

After receiving initial funding from the Foundation in 2012 and further local investment during its formative stages, evidence gathered through these early phases of the investigation attracted attention from the National Health and Medical Research Council.  This enabled Prof Dargaville and his team to gain a significant injection of funds - the trigger required to roll this out as a clinical trial across the globe.

Over recent years, the study has engaged the families of 485 premmie babies in the first hours of life across thirty-three neonatal intensive care units in eleven countries. Although only a small proportion of babies are born at less than 30 weeks’ gestation, these tiny ones are at high risk of breathing difficulty given their lungs haven’t yet developed. The Hobart Method uses a far less invasive approach to delivering a substance called surfactant through a tiny narrow tube gently placed into the infant’s windpipe, helping to disperse this deeply into the lungs and aiding the vital process of breathing.

The study, led by local neonatologist Prof Dargaville and his team, aimed to improve upon the current standard of care, seeking to limit the development of chronic lung disease that can have lasting effects on the lives of preterm babies.

The study engaged skilled team members from the areas of engineering and computer science, together with clinicians and pharmacists, combining their expertise to deliver a unique and cutting edge technologically driven approach that makes such a powerful impact on families worldwide.

Prof Dargaville said that it was a great privilege and very exciting to see that what began as an idea in clinical practice at the RHH has now become an accepted therapy of proven benefit for babies worldwide.

“The findings of the study have absolutely cemented the idea that using a minimally invasive technique to give surfactant can give these babies an important advantage in those critical early stages of life.”

Can this healthier start to life can have a lasting impact?  The answer is now being examined in an innovative follow up study in which parents of infants involved in the trial will now go on to detail their child’s health and wellbeing in the first two years after birth.

“Our results suggest that the use of The Hobart Method from day one will translate into a healthier start to life for premature infants around the world,” Prof. Dargaville concluded.

The results of this trial are currently being presented at neonatal conferences world-wide, and The Hobart Method has already rapidly gained traction in many neonatal intensive care units around the world.

We are incredibly proud of the contribution that the Foundation has made to this Tasmanian-based study and look forward to working closely with Prof Dargaville as his study progresses.

Local medical research saves lives, and thanks to the support of our local Tasmanian community we have been able to see an outstanding and life-saving idea exported and adopted globally for the benefit of generations to come.

You can support game changing research like the Hobart Method by making an online donation today. Thanks for supporting local medical research!