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Last month, MetroHealth’s obstetric research team led by Kelly Gibson, MD – Director, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology – was awarded continued funding to participate as one of only a few selected institutions from across the country in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute in Child Health and Human Development’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Research Network.
This seven-year, $2.5 million grant will allow Dr. Gibson and her collaborators from MetroHealth, University Hospitals and Cleveland Clinic to perform groundbreaking obstetric research that will improve pregnancy outcomes for our own patients and improve pregnancy care nationally and internationally.
Medical practices during pregnancy can be influenced by patient and societal expectations without an objective evaluation of their impacts on mother and baby. Given the current crisis and significant racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality, research to bring evidence-based practices to the bedside is essential to improving pregnancy outcomes and eliminate these disparities.
Since its inception, the MFMU research network has conducted studies that have provided new knowledge and treatments, especially in the areas of prematurity prevention and pregnancy care.
Past studies have found the benefits of antibiotics to prolong pregnancy after premature preterm rupture of the membranes and cervical length screening to reduce the risk of preterm delivery, among other effective treatments. Other studies have put an end to expensive but ineffective interventions, such as fetal oxygen monitoring and EKG analysis in labor, both of which failed to improve pregnancy outcomes. Recent and ongoing MFMU network studies include interventions to prevent preterm birth in twins, treatment of sleep apnea in pregnancy, opioid therapy after cesarean delivery, as well as evaluation of the impact of and treatments for H1N1, Varicella, hepatitis and cytomegalovirus infections, and, most recently, COVID-19 during pregnancy.
MFMU network studies have changed the practice of obstetrics in the U.S. for over 35 years and investigators in the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at MetroHealth and Reproductive Biology at Case Western Reserve University have successfully participated in the MFMU research network for over 20 years.
Dr. Gibson, who is also an Associate Professor of Reproductive Biology at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, and her team are excited to lead Cleveland’s collaboration with other major obstetric research institutions from across the nation in the next cycle of the MFMU network.