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URMC / Obstetrics & Gynecology / Research / Prenatal and Early Childhood Research


Prenatal and Early Childhood Research

The very earliest periods of life can determine the course of health over a lifetime. By understanding this time more clearly, researchers in our department are aiming to improve health from the outset.

Autism and Central Nervous System Teratology

The University of Rochester is the largest center for autism research in New York State and one of the largest in the United States. Current studies at the University of Rochester focus on screening and diagnosis of Autism related disorders. Medical identification of comorbid conditioning, the genetic basis of early brain development, identification of environmental risk factors, basic differences in neurobiology and chemosensory functioning, and effects and outcomes of different types of treatments that range from intense behavioral therapies to dietary interventions.

  • Recently, Dr. Loisa Bennetto, a developmental neuropsychologist here at the University of Rochester, and Dr. Chris Stodgell were awarded a grant from NIH to study how familial and heritable chemosensory (taste & smell) traits are in families with autism. Problems around feeding behavior are of major concern to families who have children with autism, thus understanding the basic neurobiology chemosensory behavioral and how genetic factors affect these traits can be important for developing new therapies and behavioral strategies to help treat those with autism

Interested Faculty

Birth Defects

Birth defects can have many sources and many causes. We're working to discover those sources and causes to help ensure that all children have a healthy start in life.

Interested Faculty

Environmental Agents

Through out life, various agents in our environment can affect our health.  This is especially true for the fragile period during in utero development of the conceptus.  Our researchers are looking at various chemical, physical,and biological (e.g., genomics) factors to determine how they affect development and subsequent health later in life.

Associated Studies

Interested Faculty

Perinatal Epidemiology

Events during the prenatal and perinatal periods can be isolated or clustered into groups within a town or larger region. By looking at the epidemiology and discovering the causes of these events, we can help ensure that more mothers and their children are healthy.

Interested Faculty

Placenta and Trophoblast

The placenta is a highly specialized and unique organ interfacing between the developing fetus and the mother. A healthy placenta is a critical factor in a healthy pregnancy. The trophoblast is the outer layer of cells surrounding the blastocyst which provides nutrients to the developing embryo and later from the placenta.  The trophoblast can be the site of disease in rare cases. Our faculty are looking at the placenta and the trophoblast to learn more about the role this vital organ plays in infections, exposure to chemicals, and supporting the developing life of the fetus.

Interested Faculty