Research related to pregnancy is supported through several NICHD organizational units, including (but not limited to) the:
Institute research focuses not only on the basic mechanisms of pregnancy loss, but also on the conditions that increase the likelihood of its occurrence and the best treatment options. The NICHD also studies stillbirth, including its causes, its mechanisms, risk factors for the condition, and treatments and follow-up care for those who have experienced a stillbirth. Some of these activities are described below.
Although some causes for or contributors to miscarriage are known, such as chromosomal abnormalities and uterine or cervical abnormalities, many causes of pregnancy loss remain unknown. Some of the Institute's activities related to understanding miscarriage include (but are not limited to) the following.
Within the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network (SCRN), a network funded through the NICHD's PPB, studies focus on the causes of intrauterine fetal death, including placental abnormalities, fetal/genetic/structural abnormalities, infection, hypertension, and other maternal medical conditions, fetal stress hormones, and unexplained fetal death.8,10,11 A recent SCRN study detected genetic abnormalities in more than 40% of cases of stillbirth using microarray analysis instead of the traditional karyotyping test. Read more about this study and its findings.
Additional SCRN work centers on identifying and understanding additional stillbirth risk factors. Although it is difficult to prospectively identify woman who are at risk of stillbirth, previous work has shown that adverse outcome in a past pregnancy is a significant risk factor for stillbirth.9
To achieve its goals related to pregnancy loss research, the NICHD supports and participates in a variety of other activities, including NIH-wide efforts. Some of these are listed below.
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