Research on the health of expectant mothers and infants before and just after birth is helping to prevent disease and cure conditions that have eluded medical science for many years. At NorthShore, investigators from obstetrics and gynecology to pediatrics conduct a variety of clinical and basic studies to enhance clinical care and improve patient outcomes—from newborns to young children and their parents as well.

Superior clinical care for high-risk mothers and babies provides a rich and diverse environment for our peri-neonatal research. Coupled with our award-winning electronic medical record system, our investigators are presented with endless opportunities to mine clinical data to zero in on specific patient populations with distinct characteristics. One recent study utilized NorthShore’s comprehensive records to examine links between temperature variations in the first 24-hours of life and the risk of stroke in extremely premature infants.

Our broad range of peri-neonatal research includes NIH-funded investigators studying the genetic role in pre-term labor and exploring new therapies for fetal growth retardation and preeclampsia. Other scientists are focusing on biochemical and molecular markers that appear to be highly damaging to the neonatal brain, and strategies to prevent and treat lung disease and fetal birth defects. Additional researchers are looking at the effects of social conditions before and during pregnancy as measured by physiological and environmental factors and how they may relate to fetal and child development.

Clinical programs provide not only outstanding care but also foster research opportunities to tease out the source of peri-neonatal disorders and conditions. A key initiative of the Research Institute, personalized medicine plays a significant role in the prevention and prediction of disease risks in the area of maternal-fetal health. The NorthShore Peri-Neonatal Center provides comprehensive genetic services to the community, using the latest in diagnostic procedures and laboratory research. Additionally, the Peri-Neonatal Depression Program has partnered with NorthShore’s Genomic Health Initiative to conduct groundbreaking research into the genetic underpinnings of perinatal mood disorders.

NorthShore’s commitment to community outreach has also led to novel research related to wellnesses and prevention. Studies led our by investigators include examining racial and ethnic differences in breastfeeding, post-partum weight retention, and the relationship between sleep quality and parental post-partum depression to name a few.