Improving functional deficits associated with fetal growth restriction

Research area

 |  fetal growth restriction


 |  brain development, neuroprotection, fetal growth restriction, FGR, IUGR


 |  PhD/Doctorate, Honours

Contact supervisors at any time

Professor Suzanne Miller

Dr Emily Camm

Dr Amy Sutherland

Project description

Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is a serious, but common pregnancy complication, describing the infant that is born very small due to failure to achieve normal growth. FGR is present in up to 9% of pregnancies in Australia, and is strongly associated with complications after birth, including brain injury that underlies the motor deficits associated with cerebral palsy or, more subtle but no less significant cognitive dysfunctions. There are currently no antenatal or postnatal treatments that can improve outcomes for FGR infants, but this is an area of strong research interest. For obvious reasons we cannot test interventions or treatments in human pregnancies or infants, and therefore animal models of FGR are required to examine whether neuroprotective treatments are safe, feasible, and can significantly improve functional outcomes.

In the current study we will examine treatment strategies to improve the structure and function of the FGR lamb brain. A number of different neuroprotective strategies are of interest that could potentially be applied either during pregnancy (antenatally) or after birth (postnatally) that aim to optimise brain development. Treatments of interest include anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and cord blood stem cells. We will apply complimentary assessments of brain structure and function to test the efficacy of our neuroprotective treatments of interest.