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Google Doodle: How Lucy Wills’s Research In Bombay Saved Millions Of Pregnant Mothers Across The World

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If women around the world are having a much safer pregnancy with minimal complications, they have an English woman to thank. 19th Century haematologist Lucy Wills’ research pinpointed the importance of folic acid during pregnancy, which is the key to prevent prenatal anaemia and eliminate the danger of child mortality. At present, pregnant women all over the world are mandated to take folic acid supplements throughout their pregnancy.

Lucy’s early life

Lucy Wills was born on May 10, 1888, near Birmingham, United Kingdom to William Leonard Wills and Gertrude Wills. Her father was a science graduate and the family had always shown a strong inclination towards science. Lucy completed her education from three ace colleges of contemporary times, finally graduating from the London School of Medicine for Women – the first British school for training women doctors, stated The Hindu.

Interestingly, Lucy Wills has a close connection with India. A considerable part of her groundbreaking research was conducted in Mumbai, India (erstwhile Bombay).

Arrival and research in Bombay

A fresh graduate, Lucy decided to pursue medical research rather than practising as a physician. In 1928, Lucy arrived in India and joined the Maternal Mortality Inquiry at the Haffkine Institute in Bombay.

At that time, macrocytic anaemia was a common ailment during pregnancy among the working class women in textile factories of Bombay. Especially, the women from lesser privileged communities were the worst affected. Macrocytic anaemia results from abnormal enlargement of red blood cells during pregnancy, drastically reducing the proportion of haemoglobin in the blood.

While working in close quarters with these women, Lucy monitored their dietary habits. After extensive research, she identified a nutritional factor whose deficiency is responsible for causing anaemia during pregnancy. Uncertain about its nature and properties, the factor was designated as ‘Wills Factor’ upon her name.

‘Wills Factor’ identified as Folic Acid

During this time, Lucy performed laboratory experiments on rats and monkeys who were nourished on the popular breakfast spread Marmite, with added yeast extract. Thereafter, Lucy concluded that this type of anaemia can be prevented by yeast extracts.

Lucy conducted further research at Pasteur Institute of India in Coonoor and the Caste and Gosha Hospital in Madras, before returning to the UK to continue the same.

Later research revealed the ‘Wills Factor’ as folic acid, which is a crucial element for pregnant women to combat anaemia, alongside Vitamin B12 and iron, reported The Independent.

Later life work among underprivileged communities

Lucy Willis herself stayed unmarried all her life, but she was the saviour for millions of expecting mothers all over the world. Till her demise in 1964, she was involved in a lot of research in the field of pregnancy health and nutrition. In her later life, she travelled extensively across developing nations, addressing the issues of pregnant mothers in lesser privileged communities.

Today’s Google Doodle pays a fitting tribute to this extraordinary woman, referring to her as “the pioneering medical researcher whose analysis of prenatal anaemia changed the face of preventive prenatal care for women everywhere.”

Also Read: We May Soon Lose The Animals & Plants Featured In Today’s Google Doodle, Here’s Why

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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
Support the cause you care for. Browse All CampaignsBrowse all campaigns

Supporting Education Of COVID Hit Students

19,200 Raised
Out of 20,00,000

Share

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26,651 Raised
Out of 20,00,000

Share

Providing Clothes To Tribal Children

1,11,860 Raised
Out of 9,00,000

Share

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28,631 Raised
Out of 15,00,000

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1,04,887 Raised
Out of 10,00,000

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5,87,014 Raised
Out of 10,00,000

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3,82,370 Raised
Out of 10,00,000

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8,35,618 Raised
Out of 10,00,000

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7,582 Raised
Out of 1,50,000

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41,094 Raised
Out of 2,50,000

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40,962 Raised
Out of 1,00,000

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25,615 Raised
Out of 5,00,000

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97,02,146 Raised
Out of 1,00,00,000

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Campaign Closed
Brought machinery

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1,36,544 Raised
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Goonj’s focus: 

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Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

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This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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