Through clinical trials, our team expands our research and continues to advance techniques in fetal brain imaging.
We are looking for women with healthy and high-risk pregnancies to participate in our research studies. By doing so, you and your child will be able to positively impact the health and development of babies around the world.
Preventing Brain Development Problems: Our Work
Some babies are born with developmental problems in the brain and heart. Although many of these problems can be identified in fetuses (unborn babies), conventional imaging technologies often do not detect these anomalies early enough.
In our Developing Brain Research Laboratory, lab director Catherine Limperopoulos, PhD, leads a research team in developing innovative, noninvasive imaging techniques. These techniques allow physicians to:
- Find abnormal fetal development in the heart and brain very early in pregnancy
- Effectively treat these problems before birth to help babies have a healthy start
Clinical Trials for Pregnant Women at Children's National Health System
Dr. Limperopoulos and her team are leading several clinical trials that support their research of early detection and treatment of fetal developmental problems.
Our studies involve the use of fetal MRI. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to take detailed images of the inside of the body. MRI is considered harmless because it does not involve exposure to radiation, which can be a concern with X-rays.
Fetal MRI is used to take pictures of the developing baby during pregnancy. Presently, there is no evidence that there is any harm from MRI procedures to unborn babies.
We are actively recruiting participants for these clinical trials:
Antecedents of Impaired Brain Development in Fetuses with Congenital Heart Disease (Healthy Starts for Tiny Hearts Study)
In this study, we seek to identify whether, why and when brain development is affected in unborn babies diagnosed with congenital heart disease. The testing involves:
- Two fetal MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans and echocardiograms (ultrasound-like test that allows physicians to see the structure and function of your unborn babys heart) during the second half of pregnancy
- Two brain MRI scans (preoperative and postoperative) after birth
- Neurobehavioral evaluation of the newborn baby (no MRIs or echocardiograms involved)
Brain Development in the Fetus with Congenital Heart Disease: The ABC Study
The ABC (antenatal brain cardiac) Study seeks to better understand brain development in babies with congenital heart defects. Although infants with a heart problem are at greater risk for problems with brain development, the precise effect, if any, of the heart problem on the development of the brain remains poorly understood.
We study the brain as it is developing during pregnancy through a technique called fetal MRI. Enrolled babies also have an MRI scan shortly after birth to look at the brain in the newborn period.
We also aim to evaluate the relationship between brain development and cognitive and social-behavioral development in this population.
Cerebellar Development in the Preterm Infant (CRIB Study)
This research study seeks to better understand brain development in premature babies. We are particularly interested in an area of the brain called the cerebellum.
The cerebellum is responsible for motor coordination of the body and also plays a role in higher functions, such as attention, cognition and language. This study investigates the development of the cerebellum in premature babies and its relationship with early development.