COLLABORATION

Collaboration to find connection between stressed mums & infant health

SOURCE: Suhyeon Choi/Unsplash
How does prenatal stress affect infant health and development?


By U2B Staff 

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Together with experts from Northwestern University’s Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, a team of researchers from across academia and industry has embarked on a study to understand how prenatal stress impacts maternal and infant health.

A project of the Manne Research Institute Perinatal Origins of Disease Strategic Research Initiative, findings from the collaborative study will go towards informing future approaches to improving newborn and childhood health.

While MC10 Inc brings to the table its wealth of experience and expertise in wearable health solutions, the Institute for Innovations in Developmental Sciences (DevSci), an academic institute focusing on early life mechanisms of lifespan health and disease, will provide insights from its leading-edge research on how the prenatal environment shapes early brain and behavioural development.

The Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, meanwhile, will contribute its expertise in research at the maternal-fetal interface.

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According to a release on the collaboration, DevSci and Lurie Children aim to improve infant health and neurodevelopment by improving the health of the prenatal environment through the “Promoting Healthy Brain Project” effort. 

Northwestern and Lurie Children’s investigators and data scientists will use MC10’s BioStamp nPoint System to measure maternal heart rate, activity, and heart rate variability, as well as maternal reports of stress collected via text messages.

This will help guide the delivery of tailored stress reduction intervention to improve maternal health and well-being and infant outcomes. The effects of this intervention will be traced in relation to infant brain and behavioral development from birth, including natural sleep MRI scans conducted in DevSci’s neurodevelopmental core.

“This study underscores the unmet need for the comfort and seamless wear of BioStamp sensors; we are excited to be a part of this groundbreaking research,” said Dr. Arthur Combs MD, Chief Medical Officer of MC10 in the release.

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This isn’t the first time Northwestern’s scientists are working with MC10. Both parties recently collaborated on a feasibility study using the firm’s first-generation BioStamp technology to monitor motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. 

This study, called “Wearable sensors for Parkinson’s disease: which data are worth collecting for training symptom detection models”, provided valuable insights that led to the development of the FDA-cleared BioStamp nPoint System to be used in this latest collaboration.

“The small, form-factor and data analytic capabilities of the BioStamp sensor minimise the burden on pregnant mothers and allow us, for the first time, to utilise biometric information to guide real-world intervention in the home that might otherwise only be available in a clinic setting,” said Dr. Lauren S. Wakschlag, who is the Principal Investigator of the Promoting Healthy Brain Project and director of the DevSci Institute at Northwestern University.

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The BioStamp nPoint System allows the continuous collection of physiological data and can be used for clinical trials deployment in-home and in-clinic.

The system reports vital signs, activity and postural classifications and a suite of sleep metrics, and is used by many pharmaceutical companies and in academic research across several therapeutic areas.

“We are excited to see how this study transforms our approaches to optimising newborn and childhood health, through helping mothers reduce their stress levels during pregnancy.

“Novel wearable technologies like the BioStamp System will also give us opportunities to study the mediating role of the placenta in reducing the effects of stress on brain development,” said Dr. Karen Mestan, Director of the Manne Research Institute Perinatal Origins of Disease Strategic Research Initiative. ​