NIH establishes Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence

The National Institutes of Health has awarded $24 million in first-year funding to establish Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence. Part of NIH’s Implementing a Maternal health and PRegnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone (IMPROVE) initiative, the centers will develop and evaluate innovative approaches to reduce pregnancy-related complications and deaths and promote maternal health equity. NICHD, the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health, and the National Institute of Nursing Research co-lead the IMPROVE initiative with involvement from several other components at NIH.

Pediatrician Catherine Gordon appointed director of NICHD’s clinical research program

Catherine Gordon, M.D., M.S., has been appointed NICHD Clinical Director. In her new role, she will lead the institute’s intramural clinical research program to improve understanding of the biological, medical, reproductive, and behavioral aspects of typical and atypical human development.

Slight menstrual cycle length increase seen with SARS-CoV-2 infection

People with COVID-19 may experience a slight increase in menstrual cycle length, comparable to the menstrual cycle increase seen among those who received a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The study authors stressed that the increase was small and temporary.

MRI technique may predict impaired fetal growth and small size at birth

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique administered as early as the 14th week of pregnancy may predict the chances of impaired fetal growth. The technique measures the ability of the placenta to supply blood to the fetus. It appears to allow earlier diagnosis than the standard technique, ultrasound of the placenta, which can diagnose reductions in maternal blood flow to the placenta at 20 to 24 weeks. Earlier detection of fetal growth restriction and those at risk for being small for their gestational age at birth may lead to more effective strategies for treating these conditions.

Children with hereditary developmental disorder have high levels of Alzheimer-associated proteins

Children with creatine transporter deficiency, a hereditary developmental disorder, have higher levels of three proteins that are found in people with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a small study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions. The higher the level of proteins, the lower the children scored on a test of coping behaviors and skills. The findings may help inform diagnostic approaches for the disorder.

Fortified human milk may promote growth of preterm infants

Extremely preterm infants fed fortified human milk grew longer and more rapidly and had larger head circumferences than infants fed unfortified human milk, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The findings provide support for future studies on the potential benefits of human milk fortification in preventing malnutrition among infants born at 28 weeks or earlier.

NICHD renews funding for its Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research

NICHD has announced funding for research collaborations in its Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research. The network, which is re-competed every seven years, consists of U.S.-based research centers and their counterparts in low- to middle-income countries. The Global Network began in 2001 and is dedicated to improving maternal and child health outcomes worldwide and building health research capacity in resource-poor settings.

NIH-funded researchers discover several differences in endometriosis-related gene expression

The gynecologic condition endometriosis has several differences in gene expression in the uterine lining, according to a comprehensive analysis of nearly 1,000 tissue samples by researchers funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. The differences stem from variations in DNA methylation—the binding of compounds known as methyl groups to DNA. The findings shed light on why endometriosis symptoms vary among patients and provide insights into developing new treatments for the disease.

Requests for Applications, Program Announcements

Notice of Pre-Application Webinar for NIH – National Science Foundation (NSF) Initiative: Smart Health and Biomedical Research in the Era of Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Data Science (NOT-OD-23-167)

NICHD’s Data Sharing Resources

Featured This Month:

  • Now in NICHD Data and Specimen Hub (DASH): Newly Added Datasets
    • PregSource: Crowdsourcing to Understand Pregnancy
      PregSource launched in 2017 to collect information about pregnancy experiences—physical, emotional, behavioral—directly from pregnant people. During its tenure, PregSource enrolled 2,350 participants, who answered online surveys about nausea, mood, sleep, physical activity, weight gain, and other aspects of pregnancy and the postpartum period. The project included a mobile app that enabled participants to more easily track their experiences anytime, from anywhere. Data collection for PregSource closed in April 2023, and the de-identified datasets were added to DASH last month.
    • Eat, Sleep, Console for Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal (ESC-NOW)
      This cluster-randomized controlled trial—part of the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-term® (HEAL) Initiative—was conducted at 26 U.S. hospitals and enrolled more than 1,300 infants with neonatal opioid withdrawal ayndrome (NOWS). The study compared the eat, sleep, console approach to usual care. The results were reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2023. Datasets from ESC-NOW and from the broader Advancing Clinical Trials in NOW (ACT NOW) effort, also part of the HEAL Initiative®, are available in DASH for additional examination and analyses.
    • Pharmacokinetics (PK) of Anti-epileptic Drugs in Obese Children (Oxcarbazepine)
      This multicenter, prospective, open-label, PK and safety study examined the use of anti-epileptic drugs in obese children between ages 2 and 18 who received drugs per standard of care, as prescribed by a treating clinician. This research, conducted through the Best Pharmaceuticals in Children Act (BPCA) program, conducted simulations from PK models in 26 children who met eligibility criteria. Interested researchers can now access 21 datasets and 8 documents from this study, as well as other BPCA data, through DASH.

For information on other resources, visit NICHD’s Datasets & Research Resources.

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