PPB Research Programs

The following information describes the branch’s research programs and program areas. 

Program Officials: Nahida Chakhtoura, Maurice Davis, Guillermina Girardi, John Ilekis, Monica Longo

PPB supports research on maternal health from pre-pregnancy through pregnancy and after delivery. The research not only explores how best to prepare a woman’s body for healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, but also identifies practices before the woman conceives, while she is pregnant, and after she delivers that are associated with both good and bad outcomes.

Within this context, PPB supports research on:

  • Pre-pregnancy health
  • Placenta development and complications
  • Fetal development
  • Pregnancy and pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes
  • Labor and delivery

PPB uses a wide range of grants and cooperative agreements to support research in this area, including support for the following multicenter networks:

Program Officials: Nahida Chakhtoura, Maurice Davis, John Ilekis

PPB promotes studies of factors affecting the initiation and completion of labor, including the physiology, endocrinology, and medical management of birth. Of special concern are the causes and prevention of premature labor, threatened and habitual pregnancy loss, prolonged and dysfunctional labor, and obstructed labor.

Program Officials: Nahida Chakhtoura, Marion Koso-Thomas

PPB supports basic and clinical studies concerned with the causes, prevention, treatment, and medical management of conditions associated with or resulting from birth and the newborn period including:

  • Birth asphyxia and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy
  • Congenital anomalies
  • Jaundice (hyperbilirubinemia)
  • Conditions resulting from preterm birth:
    • Respiratory problems, such as respiratory distress syndrome and bronchopulmonary dysplasia
    • Cardiac and circulatory problems, such as hypoglycemia, patent ductus arteriosus, and transfusions
    • Infection, including early and late onset sepsis
    • Digestive problems, such as necrotizing enterocolitis and spontaneous intestinal perforations
    • Eye problems, including retinopathy of prematurity
    • Brain problems, including intraventricular hemorrhage

PPB supports the Neonatal Research Network (NRN).

Program Officials: Nahida Chakhtoura, Maurice Davis, Marion Koso-Thomas

PPB also focuses on aspects of birth, newborn, and infant care that may influence the long-term health of children and mothers, such as:

  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Neurodevelopmental outcomes for high-risk infants

For SIDS, the branch supports studies to find the underlying mechanisms and its probable causes, ways to identify infants at risk of SIDS, and potential risk-reduction strategies. In addition, the branch provides scientific expertise and the research foundation for the Safe to Sleep® campaign, which aims to educate parents, caregivers, and health care providers about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.

Safe to Sleep® is named for its recommendation from NICHD-supported research that healthy babies be placed to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS. Since the campaign started, the percentage of infants placed on their backs to sleep has increased dramatically, and overall U.S. SIDS rates have declined by more than 60%.

PPB uses a variety of funding mechanisms to support the NRN.

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