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Investigating Preeclampsia’s Impact

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Isabella Crumpacker, Avon, Ind.

Philanthropic support from donors helps Riley physician-scientists research ways to improve outcomes for infants—including babies whose mothers have complications during pregnancy.

Riley Hospital’s Neonatology Section Chief Laura Haneline, M.D., has teamed up with Riley Pediatric Pulmonologist Robert Tepper, M.D., Ph.D., to lead a research study into the effects of preeclampsia on infants’ lung and vascular development. Preeclampsia, which can cause high blood pressure and other complications during pregnancy, affects 10-15 percent of pregnancies in the United States.

So far 44 expectant mothers with preeclampsia have been enrolled in the study along with 55 unaffected mothers in a control group. The research team collects umbilical cord blood, then examines stem cell and progenitor cell numbers to look for ways to predict which infants will have the most difficulty with lung growth. “If we can identify babies at highest risk earlier, we can intervene to help their lungs grow and develop more normally with either nutritional or drug interventions,” says Dr. Haneline. “It is exciting that we may have the potential to prevent disease later in their lives.”  

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