Alabama colleges team up for research on brain development

University Of Alabama

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Kyrsten Eller

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine and the University of Alabama were awarded a $7.1 million grant to conduct a study on healthy brain development in children over the course of five years.

The study is named the HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study. It will consist of following a group of pregnant women and their children for at least 10 years.

Their findings will result in seeing how prenatal and perinatal exposures to substances and environments may affect the brain, including medical history and anthropometrics.

“The early years are a period of rapid brain growth when environmental exposures can have a significant impact,” said UAB Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Myriam Peralta-Carcelen in a statement. “This study is key for understanding the neurodevelopment of children in the state of Alabama, and across the country, so we can intervene early and optimize the outcome for mothers and their children.”

Associate professor in the UA Department of Community Medicine, Population Health and the Institute for Rural Health Research at the UA College of Community Health Sciences Lea Yerby said the study will be beneficial for those who participate.

“We are focused on making participation as beneficial as possible for the mother and child,” said Dr. Yerby. “Real-life experiences of rural moms and infants are often overlooked and not represented in research, but this project gives the opportunity to learn how the adversities and resilience of rural communities impact children long-term.”

UAB will find participants through the Comprehensive Addiction in Pregnancy Program, and UA is using University Medical Center‘s Tuscaloosa location and its rural health clinics.

More information can be found here.

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