Infant Mortality: Research Goals

The NICHD’s research efforts related to infant mortality are aimed at understanding the causes of and contributors to infant mortality, preventing or reducing the most common causes of infant mortality, and treating life-threatening conditions in pregnant mothers and infants.

Major areas of NICHD research support relevant to infant mortality include preterm birth and birth outcomes, birth defects, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), pregnancy complications, fetal development, birth processes, infections, genetic and metabolic disorders, and newborn screening, to name a few.

NICHD research goals on infant mortality include:

  • Understanding the factors affecting the processes of labor and birth, especially as related to preterm birth and its prevention
  • Building a comprehensive understanding of normal and abnormal in utero development, including genetic, epigenetic, physiologic, metabolic, endocrinologic, nutritional, and pharmacologic regulation of fetal and placental growth
  • Cataloging and identifying nutritional, environmental, and genetic factors that mediate infant health
  • Understanding the etiology, pathophysiology, therapy, and follow-up of conditions that occur during the perinatal and neonatal period, including birth defects, birth asphyxia, sequelae of prematurity and low birth weight, adaptation to extrauterine life, injury, and hyperbilirubinemia
  • Understanding the physiologic, environmental, and medical factors that influence the course and outcome of pregnancy
  • Understanding the mechanisms of SIDS, identifying infants at risk, and developing preventative measures
  • Gaining a better understanding of the processes of infection in infants, the consequences of treatment in infants, and the most effective preventative measures
  • Determining the demographic and epidemiologic factors that are related to infant mortality and contributors to infant mortality
  • Developing and evaluating technologies and methods related to newborn screening
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