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Zeroing in on the causes of premature birth

With the opening of The NICU Family Support Program at UC Medical Center, The March of Dimes, UC and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center have another element in their multi-pronged approach of studying and helping parents deal with preterm labor.

The program, one of 130 nationwide with the most recent at the UC Medical Center, is designed to address the needs of parents throughout the hospitalization, during the transition home and in the event of a newborn death.

Infant mortality in Hamilton County is nothing new. The county has had a problem with it for the last ten years. In Ohio in an average week:

  • 321 babies are born preterm
  • 61 babies are born very preterm
  • 229 babies are born low birthweight
  • 44 babies are born very low birthweight

The Cutter triplets were born at 35 weeks and spent and average of two weeks at the UC Medical Center. Parents Chris and Danyelle emphasized they had it very easy compared to some parents with the health of their babies. The Cutters benefited from the education and information provided by the nurses.
The establishment of  The NICU Family Support Program comes a year after the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center Ohio Collaborative.   

Various hospitals around the state, including Children's, are participating. In Cincinnati researchers are studying the genetics of unique human populations and the molecular developmental biology of pregnancy.

According to Dr. Lou Muglia, director of Children's Center for Preterm Birth:

"I think we are going to find signals from the baby or from the mom that tell a mom when to deliver and then, by knowing that signal, which we don't know right now, we'll be able to develop better strategies to understand when a woman is going into preterm labor before she gets there on how to stop it once it starts, because once labor starts we have no effective ways to stop it."

Helping Muglia study the problem is a new clinic to open at Children's June 2. High-risk pregnant woman will participate in studies to give researchers even more data to find answers.