Ableism—discrimination and social prejudice against those who are disabled—is a major contributor to the health disparities experienced by people with disabilities. Within NIH, NICHD has been at the forefront of efforts to address ableism in medicine and scientific research.
Each year, more than 20,000 families in the United States experience a stillbirth, the loss of a fetus at 20 weeks or more of gestation. Stillbirth is a traumatic event that takes a devastating, lifelong psychological toll on families. October marks Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, making this an opportune time to reflect on the work we must do to better understand the causes of—and ultimately prevent—these tragedies.
The effects of climate change on health are wide-ranging, from causing injuries and other medical concerns to disrupting vital supply chains. NICHD is committed to supporting scientific research to reduce climate-related health threats among its populations of interest—children, people of reproductive age, and people with intellectual and physical disabilities.
Strengthening our understanding of human milk biology and lactation is essential to support breastfeeding and to ensure the health of infants who do not have access to a lactating parent’s milk. NICHD supports a range of efforts to explore human milk as an active biological system and to promote the inclusion of pregnant and lactating people in clinical research.
With its longer days and warmer temperatures, summer is an ideal season for outdoor recreation. But fun activities like swimming also carry the risk of injuries, especially among children. NICHD supports a broad spectrum of research that seeks to prevent and treat pediatric injuries from drowning to dog bites.
For nearly four decades, NICHD’s Neonatal Research Network (NRN) has generated scientific evidence to improve the health of critically ill newborns. Recent findings from the NRN and collaborators mark an important step toward developing an evidence-based standard of care for newborns who were exposed to opioids during pregnancy.
Small businesses play a critical role in driving scientific progress by helping to move innovations out of labs and into the public marketplace. NICHD grants to small businesses have supported development of products ranging from the first FDA-approved endometriosis treatment to at-home rehabilitation devices.
Black people are about three times as likely as White people to die from a pregnancy-related cause, regardless of income or education level. The NIH-wide IMPROVE initiative works to reduce preventable pregnancy-related deaths and complications and promote health equity.
The theme for this year’s World Down Syndrome Day—With us, not for us—reflects a major goal of NIH’s INCLUDE project, which NICHD co-leads. INCLUDE aims to increase the participation of people with Down syndrome and their families in clinical research to expand our knowledge about the condition and its links to other health issues, with the ultimate goal of improving the health and quality of life of affected individuals.
In this increasingly digital world, we must strive to better understand how technology and media affect development, health outcomes, and interpersonal relationships from infancy through adolescence. NICHD has a longstanding commitment to research on these topics.
Research conducted at NICHD and at NICHD-funded institutions continues to bring us closer to fulfilling our vision of ensuring healthy pregnancies, healthy children, and healthy and optimal lives.
What defines eating for health? Clearly, there is no one-size-fits-all healthy diet. The emerging field of precision nutrition aims to deliver personalized dietary recommendations to optimize health and quality of life based on an individual’s genetics, gut microbes, and other biological, lifestyle, environmental, and social factors.
A safe, highly effective, reversible method of male contraception would fill an important public health need. Additionally, multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs)—products that prevent both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections—would increase sexual and reproductive health options for both women and men. NICHD supports a broad range of contraceptive research, including efforts to develop male contraceptives and MPTs.
This October, NICHD celebrates its 60th anniversary and holds the first meeting of a new task force examining stillbirth in the United States. NICHD Director Dr. Diana W. Bianchi looks forward to future progress toward the institute’s goals of promoting healthy pregnancies, raising healthy children, and ensuring healthy and optimal lives.
Challenge competitions offer a mechanism to quickly bring in diverse voices and expertise to innovate and problem-solve. This month, NICHD and partners launched two challenges focused on improving our nation’s maternal health: the RADx® Tech for Maternal Health Challenge and the Connecting the Community for Maternal Health Challenge.
The recent shortage of infant formula underscores its importance for the health of children in the United States, making this an opportune time for Dr. Bianchi to reflect on NICHD’s work to advance infant nutrition research.
In 2020, firearm-related injuries surpassed motor vehicle crashes to become the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the United States. Dr. Bianchi highlights NICHD-supported research to prevent firearm violence and reduce the related deaths, injuries, and trauma.
The placenta supports pregnancy and influences the lifelong health of both mother and child. Yet it is the least understood, and least studied, of all human organs. In a guest post for the NIH Director’s Blog, Dr. Bianchi discusses work from NICHD’s Human Placenta Project to understand how the placenta functions in real time during pregnancy.
Clinical research networks bring together scientists, clinicians, and community stakeholders to identify important clinical questions and design and conduct high-quality studies to answer them. Scientific evidence generated by such studies can impact clinical care, as several recent findings from NICHD’s networks demonstrate.
The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified mental and emotional health challenges for all of us. Dr. Bianchi highlights research to understand and address factors affecting the mental health of children and their parents.
How early can a baby be born and not only survive but thrive? Dr. Bianchi discusses continued progress in saving extremely preterm infants and highlights NICHD’s efforts to prevent preterm births and improve the care of premature babies.
As we ring in the new year, 2022 marks a special milestone—the 60th anniversary of NICHD.
Dr. Bianchi discusses NICHD-led research on long COVID in children.
As we usher in November and Thanksgiving, it’s a fitting time to reflect on NICHD’s commitment to research on nutrition.
Drs. Diana W. Bianchi and Bill Riley co-write a blog for Children’s Health Day on October 4, 2021.
NICHD Director Dr. Diana W. Bianchi explains how menstruation provides insights into overall health status and encourages clinical researchers to routinely collect menstrual cycle data.
NICHD Director Dr. Diana W. Bianchi discusses NIH efforts to generate robust scientific data to inform policies to return children to the classroom safely and equitably during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Bianchi reflects on the life and contributions of Eunice Kennedy Shriver ahead of Mrs. Shriver’s 100th birthday and how improving equity, diversity, and inclusion at NICHD continues Mrs. Shriver’s work.
NICHD Director Dr. Diana Bianchi is joined by NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health Director Dr. Janine Clayton in assessing the growing maternal health crisis in the United States and describing NIH’s efforts to address it.
Looking back and looking ahead. NICHD Director Dr. Diana W. Bianchi joins other leaders across NIH in reflecting on the work of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program and discussing plans for the future.
For many COVID-19 patients, full recovery remains elusive even long after they should feel “better.” NIH recently announced research opportunities to understand COVID-19 long haulers, who have what researchers now refer to as Post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC). NICHD joins these opportunities while remaining focused on PASC patients within our audiences of interest—pregnant and lactating people, children, and those with disabilities.
Described by the acronym UNITE, the National Institutes of Health’s new initiative seeks to eliminate the pernicious threat of structural racism from the agency, the institutions it supports, and wherever NIH research takes place. In tandem with UNITE, NICHD’s STRIVE initiative seeks to reinforce workforce equity and inclusion, foster diversity in the institute’s external workforce, and identify new research opportunities to reduce such drivers of health disparity as structural racism and discrimination.
As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, SARS-CoV-2 vaccines offer the potential to halt the spread of the virus. Yet, we know very little about the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines during pregnancy.
2020 was a year filled with many challenges. NICHD remained focused on our core mission, advancing key research in women’s health, reproductive science, rare childhood diseases and many more. Watch the video below and review our research highlights of 2020.
Our National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research has advanced the field with significant achievements over the past 30 years that have improved the health, independence and quality of life of people with disabilities.
The pandemic reinforces why the NIH INCLUDE (INvestigation of Co-occurring conditions across the Lifespan to Understand Down syndromE) Project matters to families and communities.
NIH has launched a new initiative that will combat the growing problem of maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States.
As the nation begins to return to work and businesses re-open, reliable COVID-19 testing is needed. NIH is rising to the challenge.
NIH One Step Closer to Speeding Delivery of COVID-19 Testing Technologies to Those Who Need it Most Through RADx-UP (June 2020)
As the nation begins to return to work and businesses re-open, reliable COVID-19 testing is needed. NIH is rising to the challenge.
Crisis often brings out the best in us. Recognizing one of NICHD’s essential workers on the front lines of the response to COVID-19 in New Mexico’s Navajo Nation.
Research on the causes of and effective treatments for endometriosis is a high priority for NICHD. Our grantees share their findings and ongoing research.
NICHD is working with the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health to enhance coordinated activities addressing the problem of maternal morbidity and mortality.
I recently joined NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, HHS Secretary Alex Azar, and Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome to highlight the integral role NICHD plays through our ACT NOW initiative.
NICHD Director Dr. Diana Bianchi looks back at 2019 and NICHD’s many amazing accomplishments.
Pregnancy is a time when women are especially curious about their changing bodies and the development of their future child. In an effort to reach more pregnant women, NICHD’s PregSource® crowdsourcing project is partnering with the All of Us project.
In this busy fall season, NICHD joins a trans-NIH investment into funding for Down syndrome research and research to establish a standard of care for newborns exposed to opioids.
After a national search, we have selected Alison Cernich, Ph.D., as our new Deputy Director. Dr. Cernich has served as director of NICHD’s National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research since 2015.
After more than a year of discussion, substantial public feedback, and more discussion, I am happy to say that we have a final draft of the NICHD Strategic Plan. It has been a long journey, and I sincerely appreciate all the efforts of our staff and external stakeholders who worked hard to get us to this point. We now go to the layout and proofing phase of the document, where we put the finishing touches on the look and feel of the plan. Then, off we go to the printers. We hope to have print and PDF versions of the document in September.
With great excitement (and some anxious anticipation), we revealed NICHD’s new mission and vision statements during our June Council meeting and at meetings of the Division of Intramural Research and Division of Intramural and Population Health.
May 2019 began with an NICHD workshop on maternal mortality, focusing on the research needed to reverse the increasing rates of both maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity.
A young mother in our communications office recently shared a story about her grandmother, who lived in a rural area of Vietnam. The community had no running water, and most homes had dirt floors. With little or no access to healthcare, pregnant women gave birth at home.
March 2019 was busy with meetings aimed at informing researchers and stakeholders about NICHD’s important role in supporting and conducting biomedical research.
NICHD Director Dr. Diana Bianchi describes a trip to follow the progress of NIH-AIDS prevention efforts in Africa, updates on the NICHD strategic plan, and outreach efforts to develop future collaborations between the institute and outside groups.
NICHD Director, Dr. Diana Bianchi, looks forward to 2019 while reflecting on progress from 2018.
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) sets the foundation for a healthy life by conducting and supporting research on fertility, pregnancy, childhood diseases, and physical and intellectual developmental disabilities.
The NICHD Strategic Planning process is moving forward. Our Divisions of Extramural Research (DER), Intramural Research (DIR), and Intramural Population Health Research (DIPHR) have been reviewing the roughly 50 scientific themes prioritized by the Strategic Planning Working Group in mid-October.
NICHD held its first Strategic Planning Working Group meeting on October 15 and 16. The strategic planning process will allow internal and external stakeholders to review the institute's research portfolio to refocus its science and encourage new collaborations to improve the health of the populations we serve.
We are at the very early stages of personalized medicine, the idea that treatment can be targeted to meet an individual’s medical needs. However, if large segments of the population aren’t included in clinical studies, the results of our research—and the scope of personalized approaches—will be limited.
Like many first-time moms-to-be, Carey Tang has multiple pregnancy apps on her phone, and she regularly searches the Internet for information. But like the rest of us who mine the web to enhance our knowledge, she often has trouble separating fact from fiction.
NICHD training and career development programs are critical to helping young researchers advance in fields relevant to the institute's mission. Our commitment to these programs was echoed with the December 2016 passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which called for NIH to provide opportunities for new researchers and promote earlier research independence.
Looking ahead to 2020 and beyond, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) have developed priorities for NIH's maternal and pediatric HIV research.
In 2016, NICHD embarked on a process to redefine its approach to research funding.
Blood is life. This adage is true in many situations, particularly in newborn screening.
I thought about how interactions with animals, particularly in the fast pace of modern life, help to calm us and give us perspective.
People new to government often use their first 100 days on the job to reflect on what they have learned during this time of rapid transition.
I have been asked several times since the announcement of my appointment as NICHD Director, “What attracted you to this position?” There are many factors. I always have been passionate about advancing knowledge to help people. Although I really enjoy taking care of patients and families, I realized early on that I could have a much bigger impact on health care through research.
The NICHD Office of Health Equity has been a driving force in strengthening our commitment to achieving better health for all. Since the late 1990s, NICHD has had formal programs addressing diversity.
Over the last year, NICHD has been analyzing its approach to research funding. The central question: How do we support the best science? After careful consideration, we have come to a consensus that NICHD must enhance its flexibility to better address scientific and public health priorities.
When the Zika virus epidemic erupted in Brazil last year, public health officials took swift action because the virus was linked to an alarming birth defect: microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with very small heads and possible neurological damage.
In recognition of National Youth Violence Prevention Week, April 4–8, I join others in raising awareness about this important issue facing our nation's young people and the parents, educators, and health care providers who care for them.
As an obstetrician/gynecologist and scientist with a focus on maternal-fetal medicine, I am concerned about the risks Zika virus may pose to pregnant women. The sudden spike in cases of structural brain defects and other congenital malformations in babies born to infected mothers is alarming.
In recognition of Prematurity Awareness Month, and specifically, World Prematurity Day, November 17, I share some thoughts and observations on what we've learned and what we hope to learn still through ongoing research.
On October 1, 2015, Dr. Catherine Spong became acting director of NICHD. We recently checked in with her to chat about her plans for the year and to learn what she appreciates most about the institute.
At the start of a new school year, Dr. Guttmacher highlights the importance of reading every day with children. Here's an excerpt of his recent article in The Huffington Post.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Dr. Alan Guttmacher highlights the advances of this groundbreaking legislation in an article for The Huffington Post.
During National Infertility Awareness Week 2015, Dr. Alan Guttmacher explores the latest research in an article in The Huffington Post.
A recent multi-state outbreak of measles has reignited national discussion about the importance of childhood vaccines. As a pediatrician, I am saddened that childhood diseases like measles are making a comeback. I have witnessed firsthand the debilitating impact that now-preventable infections can have on kids.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently interviewed NICHD Director Alan Guttmacher, M.D., about improvements in the care of preterm infants.
One in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect, so chances are, you or someone you know has been affected by one. The term encompasses an assortment of health conditions, from clubfoot and cleft palate to Fragile X and phenylketonuria, among a host of others. All of these vary in their causes, severity, and treatments.
Scientists' New 'Human Placenta Project' Aims to Improve Health of Moms and Their Children (December 2014)
At the National Institutes of Health, we're planning a new initiative to learn more about the placenta, in hopes of better health for mothers and their children—not just in pregnancy, but long after.
Medical, scientific, and technological advances have revolutionized our world—from vaccines and antibiotics to genetics and a lab-on-a-chip, we continue to reap the benefits of our nation's investment in biomedical research.
Many years ago, my wife's youngest brother died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). That tragedy deeply affected her family and her personally. It is part of the reason she became a grief counselor, to help others struggling with loss.
Newborn screening is one of the nation's most successful public health programs, each year sparing thousands of American infants from a lifetime of severe disability or premature death. Using a few drops of blood from an infant's heel, state newborn screening programs test for a few dozen debilitating disorders that may be present at birth and which can cause significant problems unless there is early diagnosis and intervention.
Here's some good news for women who have, or have had, gestational diabetes: moderate exercise—as little as a 30 minutes of walking each day, 5 days a week—may reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. This encouraging finding comes out of the Diabetes and Women's Health Study, from Dr. Cuilin Zhang and her colleagues in NICHD's Division of Intramural Population Health Research. The Study seeks to determine the risk for Type 2 diabetes among women who have had gestational diabetes—high blood sugar during pregnancy in a woman who didn't have high blood sugar previously.
Women with this condition produce high levels of androgens—male hormones. PCOS can result in infertility and also in irregular menstrual cycles, increased facial and body hair, acne, and cyst-like growths in the ovaries. Women with PCOS often have difficulty metabolizing insulin and may be at increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Although PCOS affects roughly 5 to 7 percent of women of reproductive age, we aren't sure what causes it, and often lack effective treatments for it.
New 'Placenta Project' could yield health benefits for children, pregnant women, and adults (March 2014)
The placenta is arguably the least studied of all human organs and tissues. Each one of us comes into the world attached to one: the lifeline that supplies oxygen and nutrients from the mother's blood, and which removes carbon dioxide and other wastes via the same route. In most cases, the placenta does what it's expected to do, and few of us give it any thought.
Analysis of long term NIH-funded study shows health benefits more than 30 years later
Processes thought to underlie Alzheimer's symptoms in individuals with Down syndrome, others
Obesity, it appears, has something in common with smoking: once the pattern is established, it's difficult to change. A new study shows that children who have overweight or obesity as 5 year olds are more likely to have obesity as adolescents. Other studies have shown that adolescents with obesity tend to become adults with obesity. Thus, it appears that, if a child has obesity at age 5, chances are high that child will have obesity as an adult.
Ahead, the NICHD has embarked on an exciting new collaboration with other Institutes here at the National Institutes of Health to find novel ways to understand, prevent, and treat a wide array of birth defects affecting body parts and structure. Glancing back, I'd like to recount the great strides we've made against neural tube defects, a group of sometimes devastating conditions affecting the brain and spinal cord.
NICHD has helped organize a coalition of global health organizations to set a research agenda for tackling the problem of preterm birth.