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The Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch (PPB) supports research to:
The Branch supports grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts for research ranging from basic science to bedside clinical trials. Some topics of interest include: exploring how healthy babies develop and what can go wrong in the process; identifying better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases in pregnant women and newborns, particularly those that use safe, effective, non- or minimally invasive devices and instruments. The PPB supports training grants for medical researchers in maternal-fetal medicine, neonatology, and related fields.
New: Research Priorities
Burden of Stillbirth and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Gaps: Specific and sensitive predictive tests for identifying fetuses and infants at risk for stillbirth and SIDS are lacking.
Priority: Develop specific predictive algorithms that include physiological, biochemical, and genetic markers to predict pregnant women at risk for pregnancy loss or whose infants are at risk for SIDS.
Diabetes during Pregnancy
Gap: Despite our knowledge about pregestational diabetes mellitus (DM), its diagnosis, management, and prevention of adverse outcomes remain under explored.
Priority: Understand the pathophysiology of pregestational DM-associated fetal loss, congenital malformations, macrosomia, preeclampsia; and preterm labor. Studies to understand pathogenesis of various complications in the offspring of women with pregestational DM and studies to reduce their prevalence and disease burden are encouraged.
Eliminate Neonatal Pain
Gap: Perinatal patients suffer from pain inflicted during their care, and the lack of effective tools and treatments for acute and chronic /neonatal pain and distress has been shown to lead to numerous long-term adverse consequences.
Priority: Develop equipment, devices, tests, and other diagnostic, monitoring, and therapeutic strategies that would completely eliminate or dramatically reduce the magnitude of pain while routine or intensive care is given to newborn infants.
Global Perinatal Health
Gap: Globally, the highest burden of maternal and infant mortality still occurs among sub-Saharan African and South Asian populations. Despite advances in this area, challenges remain in developing multidimensional and interdisciplinary approaches to facilitate research that will reduce high maternal and infant mortality.
Priority: Study interventions to reduce deaths occurring in and around the time of delivery and during the first 24 hours postpartum.
Normal and Abnormal Placental Biology
Gap: Biochemical and molecular biology processes orchestrating the early development of the normal placenta, and factors leading to abnormal placental structure and function are not well understood.
Priority: Discover the physiological and molecular mechanisms involved in normal and abnormal placentation, trophoblast invasion, and uterine spiral artery remodeling.
Perinatal Health Disparities
Gap: In the United States, significant racial/ethnic disparities persist in the rates of preterm birth; low birth weight; fetal, neonatal, infant, and maternal mortality; and sudden infant death syndrome. Reasons for these persistent disparities remain poorly understood.
Priority: Support research to understand the mechanisms of disparities, and analyze social determinants of health (individual socioeconomic factors; community factors such as crime, poverty, housing, and the racial/ethnic makeup), the physical environment, and genetic and epigenetic factors which adversely affect pregnancy outcomes.
Preterm Birth and Its Consequences
Gap: There remains a major gap in understanding the mechanisms that lead to preterm birth and the full extent of its consequences for the neonate.
Priority: Support studies to understand the molecular pathways, psychosocial, and environmental factors involved in causing the various phenotypes of preterm birth, and to determine the causal pathways and mitigating factors for the four major morbidities related to extreme preterm birth: intracranial hemorrhage and periventricular leukomalacia, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, cerebral palsy, and retinopathy of prematurity.