Premature Infants Project

led by Dr. Mark Underwood and Dr. David Mills

Baby and cellsPremature infants are our most nutritionally fragile population. Infection and subsequent post-natal growth retardation has immediate adverse impacts on the developing intestine, brain and immune system. Developing and protecting the intestinal mucosa is a priority in these infants for growth. The project will establish a specimen bank for all premature infants admitted to the NICU and collect serial specimens of saliva, stool, urine, and mother’s milk for retrospective analyses of potential biomarkers of early disease.

Assessment will be performed of inflammatory markers, colonized microbiota, Th17:T-regulatory cells to measure the T cell development in infants, and HMO composition in mother’s milk. We will use new microfuidic- and mass spectrometry-based platforms for small size samples.

We will also work closely with our collaborator in the School of Law on bioethical considerations and health disparity issues associated with premature infants, encouraging breast milk support and collecting and storing biological samples for future research.