Item of Interest: NICHD seeks applications to study effects of maternal opioid use on newborns

A hand grasps the foot of a newborn, which has an unmarked hospital ID tag around it.
Credit: Stock Image

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has issued a request for applications to investigate the effects of in utero opioid exposure on infant and child development. Because little is known about the short- and long-term effects of maternal opioid use before birth, the initiative will provide support for conducting MRI scans and follow-up studies to assess social, behavioral, and brain development in 200 opioid-exposed children from birth through age 2. The award will provide approximately $11 million over four years for a data coordinating center and up to seven clinical sites.

This funding opportunity is part of ACT NOW (Advancing Clinical Trials in Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal), a collaborative effort between NICHD and NIH's Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program to improve treatment and care of infants and children exposed to opioids in the womb. ACT NOW is planning several large-scale clinical studies across the country, particularly in areas hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.

ACT NOW is part of the broader NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM) Initiative, a trans-agency effort launched in April 2018 to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid crisis. The initiative builds on established NIH research and networks, such as ACT NOW, and includes plans to integrate behavioral interventions with medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.

See NIH HEAL InitiativeSM Funding Announcements and Opportunities for more information on other funding opportunities related to opioid use disorder.


About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD conducts and supports research in the United States and throughout the world on fetal, infant and child development; maternal, child and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit

About the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program: ECHO is a nationwide research program designed to understand the effects of a broad range of early environmental influences on child health and development. For more information, visit ECHO's website. 

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