Preconception care and prenatal care are critical components of promoting a healthy pregnancy. The NICHD supports and conducts a broad range of research projects to increase the likelihood of a healthy birth. Short descriptions of this research are included below.
The NICHD conducts and supports many studies that confirm and reinforce the importance of preconception care and prenatal care for a healthy pregnancy. Several organizational units focus their research on ways that preconception and prenatal care can reduce complications during pregnancy and reduce the effects of environmental and lifestyle factors on the developing fetus.
The Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch (PPB) seeks to extend and enhance research in prevention of preterm birth, preeclampsia, fetal surgery, stillbirth, periconceptional exposure to alcohol, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), health disparities, and perinatal genetics. PPB research related to preconception care and prenatal care includes the following:
The Division of Intramural Population Health Research (DIPHR) conducts studies on the following:
The Obstetric and Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics Branch promotes research to improve the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals and to ensure centralization and coordination of research, clinical trials, and drug development activities for obstetric and pediatric populations. Current studies seek to determine why pregnancy alters the metabolism of hepatic drugs.
The Maternal and Pediatric Infectious Disease Branch supports both domestic and international research into the epidemiology, natural history, pathogenesis, transmission, treatment, and prevention of HIV infection and its complications in infants, children, adolescents, pregnant women, mothers, women of childbearing age, and the family unit as a whole. Current studies seek to understand the elevated risk of transmitting HIV to infants among women who acquire HIV during pregnancy.
The Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Branch supports studies focused on developing safe and accurate techniques for making prenatal diagnoses for various intellectual and developmental disabilities and other conditions that might have long-term effects on health and well-being.
To better understand preconception care and prenatal care and how they can promote a healthy pregnancy, the NICHD supports a variety of other activities. Some of these activities are managed through the components listed above; others are part of NIH-wide or collaborative efforts in which the NICHD participates. Some of these activities are listed below.
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