Children's Hospital Colorado

Research in the Section of Neonatology

Better outcomes, improved care and an enhanced quality of life – these are the goals of the research conducted by the Section of Neonatology at Children's Hospital Colorado.

Our team strives to deliver the best care for the smallest, most vulnerable patients. We drive innovations in the field, regularly taking new discoveries, practices and techniques from the lab to the bedside.

Ultrasound images of fetus chest
Research article

To save a fetus with a dangerous mass on its heart, Children’s Hospital Colorado surgeons undertook a rare and unique surgery. The team removed the tumor while the fetus remained in utero, saving its life and the life of its mother.

People with Colorado Fetal Care Center branded vests talking
Research article

The Colorado Fetal Care Center at Children’s Hospital Colorado achieves some of the best survival rates for the most severe cases of congenital diaphragmatic hernia –– thanks to early therapeutic repair on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

Microscope image with yellow circles. One is labeled "Dead Cells"
Research article

Acetaminophen is often used in neonatal intensive care units to treat newborns with patent ductus arteriosus. But given its impact on the liver, researchers at Children’s Hospital Colorado investigated how it affects premature lungs.

Our neonatology advancements

With a focus on each child's long-term quality of life, our physicians develop new therapies and innovate treatments for complex neonates.

The neonatal doctors at our Level IV NICU helped develop several NICU treatments that are now standard-of-care. In many cases, we were the first in the world to use these therapies.

Here at the Section of Neonatology and the Perinatal Research Center, we've played an integral role in neonatology advancements, serving as:

"Our goal is to help mothers make informed decisions about their own health."
Erica Wymore, MD

Ongoing neonatology research at Children's Colorado

Our doctors and researchers conduct basic science, clinical and medical education research in Colorado, throughout the United States and around the world. Their work focuses on:

  • Interventions to prevent premature delivery
  • Improved care and outcomes for neonates
  • Reducing complications in the youngest babies

Basic science research

The Section of Neonatology's basic science research is the foundation for the application of new therapies and approaches to care for neonates and infants in the NICU. Our ongoing basic science research focuses on:

  • Understanding the processes involved in fetal growth and development and the mechanisms that regulate growth and development under normal and pathological conditions
  • Interrogating the role of the placenta in regulating normal fetal growth and the mechanisms by which complications of pregnancy adversely impact placental function
  • Examining the factors that influence normal pulmonary development and the role of inflammation and oxygen toxicity in producing pulmonary disease
  • Determining the differential response to injury in the newborn brain compared to the adult brain

Clinical research

The clinical researchers in our department seek to continually improve the diagnosis, treatment and outcomes of neonates. Our ongoing clinical research includes:

  • Efforts aimed at improving neonatal resuscitation practices
  • Clinical trials for assisted ventilation during delayed cord clamping for extremely preterm infants and infants with congenital diaphragmatic hernia
  • Determining the complexity and impact of perinatal exposure to THC and other substances of abuse on newborn outcomes
  • Creating and testing innovations in the care of patients with congenital diaphragmatic hernias and other patients requiring inhaled nitric oxide (iNO) and/or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
  • Working with large patient databases from similar children’s hospitals across the country to determine best clinical practices for a variety of conditions

Neonatology research across pediatric medicine

While our basic science and clinical research programs continue to lead to advancements in the neonatal care for premature and medically complex infants, our research extends beyond the bench and bedside:

  • Susan Niermeyer, MD, works to improve birth outcomes in developing countries through the Healthy Babies Breathe initiative.
  • Sunah Hwang, MD, focuses on understanding and improving racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health and infant outcomes at state and national levels.
  • Jeanne Zenge, MD, addresses regional disparities among infants and families who live in urban and rural areas through telemedicine initiatives.
  • Jason Wright, MD, works with state legislators to improve access to newborn screening across Colorado.
  • Tom Parker, MD, and Doug Jones, MD, have created a series of neonatology-specific clinical scenarios with behavioral anchors called Entrustable Professional Activities. These scenarios are valuable tools for framing performance assessment and feedback for our fellows.

What our neonatal research means for babies

The research that our physician-scientists conduct in the Section of Neonatology directly informs care in the Level IV NICU. Ongoing research efforts enable us to provide the highest level of care for any condition that may affect a newborn – no matter how rare or critical.

Our outcomes remain above the standard, even as the complexity and acuity of our patients increase.

Contact us at 303-724-2840.

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