Innovative NICU Research at UMCH to Reduce Environmental Harm to Neonates

At the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH), the Neonatology Division maintains the 52-bed Drs. Rouben and Violet Jiji Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and offers comprehensive evaluation and treatment for all critically ill neonates, including extremely low birth-weight infants and those with surgical, genetic and cardiac conditions.

Physicians at UMCH, including Cynthia F. Bearer, MD, PhD, FAAP, Dina E. El-Metwally, MB,BCh, PhD and Shiv S. Kapoor, MBBS, are discovering factors that are harmful in common NICU practices and will put into place new protocols and guidelines to reduce or eliminate harmful exposures.

The team is conducting several studies to investigate current NICU environments and the neurodevelopmental impact on patients. The team’s research focuses on current patient exposures and determining their neurological advantage or harm to neonates. Current areas of focus include:

  • Lead exposure and donor blood

  • Dissolving pills in ethanol, propylene glycol or benzyl alcohol

  • Music for improving the brain maturation in a baby

  • Air quality of the isolettes

  • Nutritional status of choline and docosahexanoic acid

Dr. Bearer and her team have demonstrated that babies are exposed to environments that may be detrimental to their neurodevelopment. They are investigating gestational “age appropriate” protocols. When the environment isn’t appropriate for its age, the premature baby is sensory deprived, exposed to too many chemicals and will fail to thrive.

Learn more about University of Maryland Children’s Hospital neonatology program.

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Cynthia F. Bearer, MD.

Cynthia F. Bearer, MD

Cynthia F. Bearer, MD, PhD is the Mary Gray Cobey Professor of Neonatology with tenure, Chief of Neonatology and Associate Chair for Research, Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine. She is the Editor-in-Chief ...

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Dina E. El-Metwally, MD.

Dina E. El-Metwally, MD

Dr. El-Metwally led the project of the new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Children's Hospital at University of Maryland Medical Center. The Drs. Rouben and Violet JiJi NICU is a 30 million-dollar, state of art and a cutting-edge ...

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Shiv S. Kapoor, MBBS.

Shiv S. Kapoor, MBBS

Dr. Kapoor received his medical education at Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India, received his pediatrics residency at Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, VA and finished a fellowship in Neonatal Perinatal Medicine at University ...

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