The NICHD established the MFMU Network in 1986 to respond to the need for well-designed clinical trials in maternal- fetal medicine and obstetrics, particularly with respect to the continuing problem of preterm birth. The aims of the Network are to reduce maternal, fetal, and infant morbidity related to preterm birth, fetal growth abnormalities, and maternal complications, and to provide the rationale for evidence-based, cost-effective obstetric practice.
The Institute funds the MFMU Network through its Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch (PPB) using the Cooperative Clinical Research award mechanism (U10) in 5 -year competitive cycles. For the 2011–2016 cycle, the MFMU Network includes 14 clinical centers at U.S. universities and hospitals, a data coordinating center at T he George Washington University, and the NICHD . MFMU Network centers may include one or more affiliated hospitals. The clinical centers represent premier institutions in perinatal medicine with track records of excellence in clinical research.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke also provide support for certain projects within the MFMU Network.
MFMU Network studies include randomized clinical trials, cohort studies, and registries. Network trials may be found on www.clinicaltrials.gov and on the MFMU Network website.
The MFMU Network has conducted clinical studies related to the following critical areas of research: maternal health; fetal health and development; gestational diabetes, asthma, and thyroid disorders; and preterm labor.
Current MFMU Network studies include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Antenatal Late Preterm Steroids (ALPS): A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial examines whether the administration of antenatal steroids at 34 weeks to 36 weeks of gestation, with an anticipated delivery date in the late preterm period, reduces the need for neonatal respiratory support.
- A Randomized Trial of Fetal ECG ST Segment and T Wave Analysis (STAN) as an Adjunct to Electronic Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring is studying whether fetal STAN reduces the risk of perinatal hypoxic-ischemic morbidity and mortality.
- A Randomized Trial of Thyroxine Therapy for Subclinical Hypothyroidism or Hypothyroxinemia Diagnosed During Pregnancy seeks to determine whether giving thyroxine to women with subclinical hypothyroidism or hypothyroxinemia diagnosed during the first half of pregnancy is associated with intellectual improvement in their offspring. The trial is now in the follow-up phase.
- A Randomized Trial to Prevent Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection (CMV) is designed to determine whether maternal administration of CMV hyperimmune globulin prior to 24 weeks of gestation in women diagnosed with primary CMV infection reduces the congenital CMV infection.
- An Observational Study of Hepatitis C Virus in Pregnancy (HCV) is intended to evaluate risk factors associated with HCV infection and mother-to-child transmission of HCV.
- Mild GDM Management and Long Term Maternal and Child Health: Follow-Up of the Mild GDM Study will examine whether treatment of pregnant women with mild gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) decreases the risk of obesity in their children aged 4.5 to 10 years compared with children born to women who did not receive treatment for mild GDM in pregnancy.
Current MFMU Network centers include:
- Case Western Reserve University/MetroHealth Medical Center
- Columbia University
- Duke University
- Northwestern University
- The Ohio State University
- Stanford University
- University of Alabama at Birmingham
- University of Colorado
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
- University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
- University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
- University of Utah
- Brown University
The data coordinating center for the MFMU Network is The George Washington University Biostatistics Center.