Christiana Care has an important role in a groundbreaking study of first-time mothers that will ultimately result in identifying problems sooner, as well as new strategies and interventions to help moms and babies.
Sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the nuMoM2b Study focuses on understanding predictors and causes of adverse outcomes in women with their first pregnancies. The study will enroll 10,000 women across the United States, including 750 expectant moms at Christiana Care, one of the highest-volume hospitals for deliveries in the Mid-Atlantic region.
About 40 percent of the women who give birth in the United States are first-time mothers. That means doctors cannot rely on the medical history from past pregnancies to identify potential problems.
“We will be focusing on spontaneous pre-term birth and pre-eclampsia, which are important outcomes in first-time births,” says Matt Hoffman, M.D., director of OB/GYN Education & Research and principal investigator in the study. “Moreover, preeclampsia is more common in first-time mothers. We hope to be able to identify the genes that may be associated with these conditions, as well as identify genes that may protect against them.”
Occurring in about 7 percent of pregnancies, pre-eclampsia is marked by high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Untreated, it can lead to serious—even fatal—complications for both mother and baby. The risk of developing pre-eclampsia escalates to 25–30 percent in women who have a first-degree relative—a mother or a sister—who has had the condition.
Christiana Care will recruit women who are fewer than 14 weeks pregnant, working with community doctors, as well as with expectant mothers who are having their first-trimester screening at Christiana Hospital, says Stephanie Lynch, OB/GYN research manager and the study coordinator.
“In addition to genetics, we will be looking at other factors, such as the development of the placenta and how well it is functioning,” she says.
Emotional and environmental elements, including stress and lack of sleep, also will be evaluated.
“There’s a lot of folk wisdom about these issues, but not much data,” Dr. Hoffman says.
The budget for the nuMoM2b study is more than $1 million, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
For more information or to enroll in this study, call 302-733-3576.