When I went in to my last high risk Ob appointment, I was asked if Ronny and I would be willing to participate in a study being conducted at the hospital. We received some information and discussed the options, finally agreeing to participate on Friday.
The study is being conducted on 1000 women who are considered to have a high risk pregnancy. The researchers are studying the link between maternal stress and mental health, and its impact on fetal brain development. They are also studying the fathers mental health as well. There are three aspects to the study: those specific to me, those specific to Ronny and those specific to baby.
Part 1: The first part of the study included signing the paperwork and answering questions about my medical history, and filling out a questionnaire on personal life experiences and views. When we go in for our next appointment, Ronny and I will both also undergo an interview process where we discuss life experiences.
Part 2: after the interview, I will be having a blood draw for DNA analysis, looking for genetic differences associated with mental illness. Additional blood draws will be done twice during pregnancy, once around brith and once around 3 months after birth to measure hormone levels associated with stress.
Part 3: Hair and saliva will be taken from me at weeks 20, 28, soon after birth and when baby is 3 months old. The hair collection and saliva are used to measure nicotine exposure and cortisol levels. I don’t smoke, but a lot of people in my life do. Oh well.
Part 4: At roughly 20 weeks and 30 weeks I will have ultrasounds done to measure the baby’s adrenal gland. They will also measure the baby’s response to stress by placing a vibration machine onto my abdomen for a few minutes and then measuring the heart rate. The benefit to these scans are they must be performed in 3d/4d ultrasound to get accurate results. Plus I get the pics for free.
Part 1: Ronny will first have to undergo the interview process regarding life experiences. We will complete this on Thursday
Part 2: DNA blood draw looking for genetic differences associated with an increased risk for mental illness.
Part 1: Baby will have an ultrasound done on his/her abdomen at approximately 3 weeks of age to measure the adrenal gland.
Part 2: They will collect about 5ccs of babies blood either via cord blood or blood draw for a DNA sample. I assume this is also looking for the genetic markers for mental illness.
Part 3: Researches will collect a sample of baby’s hair and saliva at birth and 3’months of age to measure nicotine exposure and cortisol levels.
Part 4: Auditory test done at birth, 1 month and 3 months measuring baby’s response to sounds. They will do the test when baby is asleep. I was a bit nervous about this test, but we were assured that both Ronny and I could be present with baby when this test is done.
Part 5: When baby is born, and at 3 months of age baby will undergo a response to stress test where an electrode is placed on his/her chest and heart rate will be monitored while they create a stress environment (totally safe and won’t hurt baby) they will then collect a saliva sample to measure cortisol production
Part 6: at about 3 weeks old, we will take the baby to the hospital for a brain scan to measure brain development. Baby will be fed and once asleep will be fitted with noise canceling ear protection an placed into an MRI machine for about 30 minutes. Ronny and I will be able to watch in the viewing room and there will be someone in the room with baby the whole time.
Overall, the study sounds really interesting and we are thrilled we were asked to participate. None of the tests will put me or the baby in harms way, and are actually pretty beneficial in the long run.