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.
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.
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 are overweight or obese as 5 year olds are more likely to be obese as adolescents. Other studies have shown that obese adolescents tend to become obese adults. Thus, it appears that, if a child is obese at age 5, chances are high that child will become an obese 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.