The PASS Network was established in 2003 as a partnership between the NICHD’s Pregnancy and Perinatology Branc (PPB) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders joined the partnership in 2009. The Network is designed to conduct community-linked studies to investigate the role of prenatal alcohol exposure in the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as stillbirth and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), and how they may be interrelated. It is hoped that this knowledge will help women, families, physicians, and scientists find ways to improve pregnancy outcomes and infant health.
The PASS Network has two primary clinical sites in the following locations:
- Northern Plains of North America
- Western Cape of South Africa
In addition, the Network relies on three analysis centers—a Data Coordinating and Analysis Center (DCAC), a Developmental Biology and Pathology Center (DBPC), and a Physiology Assessment Center (PAC)—to gather and maintain data and to conduct specific types of analyses of study data. For details on participating sites, please see the Current Sites section below.
The PASS Network aims to determine the:
- The association between prenatal alcohol exposure and the risk for SIDS, stillbirth, FASD, and other adverse outcomes
- The role of the timing, pattern, and amount of prenatal alcohol exposure and other environmental factors in the risk for morbidity and mortality in early human life
- The role of genomic variation in modifying the risk for morbidity and mortality in early life associated with prenatal alcohol exposure
- The role of alcohol exposure during pregnancy and of interactions among alcohol exposure and environmental and genetic modifiers in altering profiles of autonomic activity of the fetus and infant, and neurologic, audiologic, and neurobehavioral outcomes in the infant
- The role of maternal alcohol exposure, as influenced by specific environmental and genetic factors, in the impairment of placental function and, thereby, the increased risk for fetal and/or infant morbidity and mortality
- The abnormalities in key neurotransmitter systems in the brains of fetuses and/or infants that convey risk for sudden death and the role of prenatal alcohol exposure, as influenced by specific environmental and genetic factors, in their pathogenesis
The Safe Passage Study is currently the main study run by the PASS Network to understand some of the causes of SIDS, stillbirth, FASD, and other outcomes, especially those related to alcohol exposure anytime during pregnancy. The Study will enroll approximately 12,000 pregnant women from the United States and South Africa and will follow the development of their babies through pregnancy and the infants’ first year of life. The long-term goals of the Safe Passage Study are to decrease fetal and infant mortality and improve child health in communities at high risk for prenatal maternal alcohol consumption.
- Northern Plains Comprehensive Clinical Center—Various locations in North and South Dakota in the United States
- Led by Sanford Research in Sioux Falls, SD
- The University of North Dakota also participates
- Stellenbosch Comprehensive Clinical Site—Cape Town, South Africa
- Led by Stellenbosch University
- Located at the Tygerberg Hospital, Western Cape, South Africa
- DCAC: DM-STAT, Inc., (with the School of Public Health at Boston University)
- DBPC: Children’s Hospital Boston
- PAC: Columbia University