SALT LAKE CITY – Each year, more than 500,000 moms-to-be across the U.S. deliver babies with potentially avoidable complications such as preterm birth, low birth weight, and preeclampsia. Unfortunately for some moms, many of these risks go undetected until the last possible minute, often too late to prevent.
Today, however, researchers from University of Utah Health Care and Intermountain Healthcare celebrated a new partnership to study women who are pregnant for the first time in hopes of better understanding why these outcomes occur during some first pregnancies. Officials from both organizations launched the Nulliparous Pregnancy Outcome Study Monitoring Mothers-to-be (nuMOM2b) with a baby shower in observance of Mother’s Day and the guests of honor, Sarah Reeder and Rainy Tennysen, two local first-time moms-to-be.
Approximately 40 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. are women who have never given birth. As a group, they sometimes have complications with their pregnancy, but there is no information from a previous pregnancy to identify who might have a problem. The goal of the nuMOM2b study is to learn more about unknown complication risks to perhaps prevent them in the future.
“There are so many unknowns with first-time pregnancies, and very little research has been done with first-time moms,” says Bob Silver, M.D., professor and chief of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the U of U School of Medicine. “We have several strategies that help women with prior pregnancy complications to help them avoid a recurrent problem. However, we don’t currently understand how to identify women at risk during their first pregnancy. We really want to learn more about first time moms so that someday we can prevent the initial pregnancy complication.”
The nuMOM2b study is funded by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the U of U and Intermountain Healthcare in Utah comprise one of eight participating research centers across the country. Other sites are located in California, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Throughout the next two years, the study will enroll approximately 10,000 women.
“The information we gain from this research will allow us to continue to improve the health of new mothers and their babies,” said Ware Branch, M.D., medical director of Intermountain Healthcare’s Women and Newborns Clinical Program. “Specifically, we hope this information will help us lessen the chance of premature birth, interuterine growth restrictions (babies that are very small), stillbirth, and preeclampsia, a pregnancy condition in which high blood pressure develops.”
To qualify, study participants must be 18 years of age or older, less than 14 weeks pregnant, have had no prior pregnancies lasting 20 weeks or longer, and intend to deliver at a participating hospital. Study participation is entirely voluntary. Participating hospitals in Utah include University of Utah Hospital, McKay-Dee Hospital, Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, LDS Hospital, and Intermountain Medical Center. Other Utah hospitals may join later. Participation will include at least three study visits that will include three ultrasound exams with DVD copies, collection of specimens, and answering some questions. Compensation will be provided for participation.
For more information about the study, contact Kelly Vorwaller, R.N., at 801-585-6996.
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