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Vale Judith Lumley, a giant in perinatal health

Vale Judith Lumley, a giant in perinatal health

The ANMF (Vic Branch) joins with health organisations around the world in acknowledging the towering contribution to maternal and infant health of the late Emeritus Professor Judith Lumley AM, who died in October 2018.

Judith was an eminent advocate of perinatal research in her specialties of perinatal epidemiology and maternal research.

Judith safeguarded evidence-based healthcare, by promoting accurate and reliable data and listening to the ‘stakeholders of care’ – women, families, health services and professional groups.

The establishment of the Department of Health Victorian Perinatal Data Collection Unit in 1982, with Judith as director, has resulted in a robust surveillance system. The unit contributes to health improvements for mothers and infants through collecting and analysing data.

The collection includes data on obstetric conditions, procedures and outcomes, neonatal morbidity and congenital anomalies relating to every birth in Victoria.

In 1988, Judith chaired the Victorian Ministerial Review of Birthing Services which included the first-ever survey of Australian women’s views of their maternity care and predicated improvements in birthing services across the state.

In 1991 Judith established the Centre for the Study of Mothers’ and Children’s Health at La Trobe University – later called Mother & Child Health Research and then the Judith Lumley Centre.

Approached to head the prestigious National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit in Oxford, Judith held that post in 1994 and 1995, returning to the Centre in 1996, where she remained director until her retirement in December 2008.

Judith was a prolific author, whose subject matter included interventions to reduce smoking in pregnancy, the aetiology of preterm birth and Birth Rites Birth Rights: childbirth alternatives for Australian parents (1980) which she co-authored with Jill Astbury.

Judith co-edited the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health with Assoc. Prof. Jeanne Daly from 2000 to 2008. Judith was made an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to public health and to maternity care.