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Centenary tribute to father of maternity care

Date: 16 November 1999
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The 100th anniversary of the birth of the man who revolutionised maternity care and family planning throughout the North-east of Scotland with his pioneering work, will be celebrated at a one-day conference today (Nov 16).

The Dugald Baird Centre for Women’s Health will host the one-day conference in memory of the former Regius Professor of Midwifery Sir Dugald Baird, who fought tirelessly for more than 30 years to promote high quality care for women of childbearing age.

Leaders in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology, including Dr Paul Van Look, Director of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at the World Health Organisation, will attend the Dugald Baird Centenary Meeting at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital.

Sessions will be held throughout the day, when speakers will talk on such subjects as fertility regulation, emergency contraception and maternity care at the end of the Millennium, both in Scotland and the developing world. Abuse and substance misuse in pregnancy; inequalities in the prevention of cervical cancer and pregnancy among older mothers and teenagers will also be covered.

Dr Wendy Graham, Director of the Dugald Baird Centre, said the conference would provide a fitting tribute to the memory of Sir Dugald.

“Here in Aberdeen, the value and importance attached to women’s health has a long and fine history and many fine advocates, with Sir Dugald Baird one of the most inspirational figures. Tuesday, November 16, will mark 100 years since his birth, and we will be reflecting not only on his contribution to improving reproductive health during this period but also the challenges which face us in the next millennium.”

Over 70 invited participants are expected to attend, including former peers, colleagues and students of Sir Dugald Baird.


Further information

Dugald Baird Centre for Research on Women’s Health (01224) 681818, ext 53924/53621

Sir Dugald Baird (1899-1986)
Regius Professor of Midwifery
University of Aberdeen 1937-1965

The Dugald Baird Centre was launched in May 1995 to conduct high quality research for the improvement of the reproductive health and health care of women in Scotland and internationally.

The Centre is named after Sir Dugald Baird, one of the most distinguished and inspirational figures in the University of Aberdeen’s impressive history of research on reproductive health – a history which stretches back over two centuries to the work of Alexander Gordon on puerperal infection in 1795.

Born in Beith, Ayrshire in 1899, Sir Dugald Baird graduated in medicine from Glasgow University in 1922. His early experiences attending births in the Glasgow slums and in the city’s Royal Maternity Hospital shaped his life-long interest in the social and economic influences on the health of women, their babies and across generations.

Sir Dugald came to Aberdeen in 1937 as Regius Professor of Midwifery. During the next three decades, his outstanding contribution to the fields of clinical practice, service provision and health policy spanned the diversity of reproductive health – including perinatal and maternal mortality, the organisation of maternity services, social obstetrics, sterilisation, induced abortion and cervical screening. With his wife, Lady Baird, Sir Dugald also established the first free family planning clinic in Aberdeen.

To address the depth and breadth of reproductive health Sir Dugald recognised the crucial importance of multi-professional and multi-disciplinary research teams. In the late 1940s, he took the unprecedented and controversial step of introducing an epidemiologist, physiologist, psychologist, statistician, dietician and sociologist to his department. His work reached out beyond local populations and he travelled extensively applying his wisdom and expertise throughout the developed and developing world.

In 1951, he set up the unique Aberdeen Maternity and Neonatal Databank, which continues to this day to link all the obstetric and fertility-related events occurring to women from a defined population.

Sir Dugald formally retired in 1965 and the following year the City of Aberdeen conferred the Freedom of the City on him and Lady Baird for their unique contribution to medical science and health in the City and beyond.

The remarkable legacy of this distinguished figure lives on through the work of the Dugald Baird Centre for research on Women’s Health, as well as through the wider objectives of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

University Press Office on telephone +44 (0)1224-273778 or email