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MFM researcher earns $3.7M NIH grant to study preterm birth
Date:10/6/2010

Fetal growth is used as a marker of health and well-being in unborn babies as well as children. But, the tools that are currently available to differentiate between a small, healthy fetus and a fetus that is small due to pathologic causes have significant limitations. What if they were improved? Would it save the health care system resources spent monitoring women who might need medical intervention because their fetuses might just be small and healthy? Would it help some women avoid the anxiety such intervention brings?

Those are the questions being addressed by Edward Chien, MD, a physician in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island and an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Dr. Chien recently joined the "The National Standard for Normal Fetal Growth" study designed to develop more accurate algorithms for tracking fetal development and predicting which fetuses are abnormally small and unhealthy. He will serve as the primary investigator on this $3.7-million, two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Beginning in the next few months, his team will recruit up to 700 pregnant women with low risk for prenatal complications, as well as women pregnant with twins. Because the study will evaluate growth patterns by race and ethnicity, they will recruit specific numbers of Caucasian, Asian, African American and Hispanic women. They will also recruit a specific number of obese women to study the effect of maternal obesity on fetal health and growth.

About 10% of babies born in this country are small. Like children or adults, not all of these babies are unhealthy. This study seeks to identify those individuals who are small and healthy from those who are unhealthy.

"Growth is a longitudinal measure. We hope to develop an algorithm that will look at fetal size, fetal growth and changes in the body during
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Contact: Susan McDonald
slmcdonald@wihri.org
401-681-2816
Women & Infants Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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