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The power of the placenta in preterm birth
Heather Brockway (Research Fellow, CCHMC)
Preterm birth is defined as birth before the 37th week of pregnancy. Preterm birth is a serious health issue as many “preemies” are born with serious health problems, many of which can last a lifetime. My research focuses on the role of the placenta in preterm birth with the goal of understanding how the preterm placenta is different than normal, healthy placentas. Once we know the preterm placentas are different, we can then develop diagnostic tests to help identify potential preterm pregnancies as well as clinical interventions to help prevent preterm birth.
Spina bifida: ‘hole’ on, we need a patch!
Spina bifida results from failure of neural tube closure that normally occurs during the 3rd and 4th weeks of pregnancy. This means a portion of spinal cord remains open like a book, uncovered and unprotected nerve tissue is exposed to amniotic fluid causing sensory and motor dysfunctions limiting the autonomy and quality of life of patients. While some alterations improve after surgery, some are irreversible. Our research focuses on developing new treatments for better outcomes by developing a bioengineered “smart patch” to protect the spinal cord of these babies in the womb.