Mom and Baby Research Program
The Mom and Baby Research Program encompasses our many studies that are focused on maternal and child health. Over 10 PHS investigators, each contributing their area of expertise, work collaboratively with clinicians and researchers from various HFHS clinical and research departments as well as across the country to increase understanding of the complex inter-play between genetic, biologic and environmental contributors to the risk of asthma, allergies, and other pediatric conditions.
An overall aim of this program is to build a research infrastructure to engage, enroll and retain a diverse population of mothers and babies. The beginnings of this infrastructure were developed with the first birth cohort, Childhood Allergy Study (CAS) starting in 1987. This study recruited more than 800 pregnant women and followed their children into their 30’s. With the next two cohorts, Wayne County Health Environment Allergy and Asthma Longitudinal Study (WHEALS) and Microbiota, Allergy, Asthma & Pets (MAAP), the methods were both fine-tuned and expanded to apply to new communication technologies and preferences, varying demographics, more complex risk contributors, and an increase in sample collection. These birth cohort studies have identified multiple factors that are associated with altered risk for developing childhood asthma, including being exposed in early life to allergens, pollutants, viruses, bacteria, and psychosocial stress. PHS was recently awarded funding to take this research to another level with a birth cohort of 3000 pregnant moms, this time to build from previous findings and to pin point specifically which bacteria in mothers and their newborns protect babies from getting allergic conditions.
Prospective cohort studies, and especially birth cohorts, while require much time and effort to conduct, are the best methods of identifying risk factors for disease and provide an opportunity to collect novel longitudinal samples that can be used to study a wide range of exposure-to-disease associations.
The Mom and Baby Research Program will solidify our understanding of asthma, allergies, and other pediatric conditions and how to potentially prevent them from developing.