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The PPB seeks to improve the health of mothers and children by supporting research in maternal health, pregnancy, fetal well-being, labor and delivery, neonatal and infant health and well-being, and the long-term health outcomes associated with pregnancy and with fetal and infant development.
The Branch supports research to:
- Determine basic mechanisms of normal and disease processes;
- Identify new treatments, methodologies, and preventative strategies;
- Assess dissemination and impact of therapeutic and preventative interventions; and
- Increase scientific resources through recruitment and training of investigators.
- Branch-supported clinical trial:
Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS) compares outcomes of a surgical procedure to repair a birth defect of the spine while a fetus is still in the womb, to standard practice of doing the surgery after birth. MOMS found that surgery done in the womb reduces the need to divert, or shunt, fluid away from the brain later, and increases the chances that a child may be able to walk without crutches or other devices. The study was recently named the “Trial of the Year” by the Society for Clinical Trials. For details, visit NIH Study of Spina Bifida Surgery Recoginzed as 'Trial of the Year'.
- Branch-supported research:
Morrow et al [J Pediatr 2011; 158: 745-51] noted that the fucosyltrasferase 2 gene (FUT2) codes for fucosyl-lactose, known as the H antigen, which protects against enteric bacterial pathogens. However, 25% of the population have a non-coding FUT2 polymorphism and, therefore, have no H antigen-conferred protection. These investigators reported that premature infants without the H antigen have a mortality rate 7 times greater than infants with the H antigen. This finding can be incorporated into algorithms that predict likelihood of Necrotizing Enterocolitis in preterm infants. PMID:21256510.
- Branch-supported research findings:
PPB-supported researchers used data collected through the Neonatal Research Network to create a tool that shows outcome trends for infants born extremely preterm. To access the tool and learn about the data, visit NICHD Neonatal Research Network (NRN): Extremely Preterm Birth Outcome Data.
- Branch-supported resource:
Meta-analyses that combine data from available research on the safety and effectiveness of various treatments in the care and management of newborns are available through the Cochrane Neonatal Systematic Reviews, which is supported through the PPB.
- Branch-supported research finding:
Hypothermia treatment for hypoxia benefits infants through early childhood Studies of whole-body hypothermia treatment for babies born with signs of oxygen deprivation showed that the use of this cooling technique after birth increases the chances of survival, without increasing the risk of long-term disability at 6 to 7 years of age. PMID:22646631