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Fetal and Neonatal Disorders | Overview


Fetal Brain Development and Connectivity in Congenital Heart Disease

The purpose of this research is to study brain development in babies prenatally diagnosed with congenital heart disease during pregnancy and to learn how heart disease affects brain development, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Prior research has shown that babies with congenital heart disease may have reduced brain growth and maturation during the later parts of pregnancy. This study will investigate possible causes of these changes that may happen earlier in pregnancy.

We are seeking pregnant women to participate in this research study, either as control subjects (if there have been no signs of a problem during the pregnancy) or as study subjects (if congenital heart disease has been diagnosed before birth). Participating mothers will have one fetal MRI in the middle part of the pregnancy and a second fetal MRI towards the end of the pregnancy. Following delivery, a brain MRI scan of the baby will be performed during the first month of life and a second MRI will be performed at 3-6 months of age. At the same time as the 3-6 month MRI, we will also perform a developmental evaluation of the baby.

Neurodevelopment in Congenital Heart Disease

Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital are conducting a study to better understand the relationship between fetal brain MRI and children’s development and behavior as they grow up. To continue to understand how neurodevelopment is affected in babies with congenital heart disease researchers will follow up on babies who had MRIs during pregnancy. The goal is to learn more about whether a brain MRI during pregnancy can identify children with congenital heart disease who are more likely to have difficulties in language, motor, cognitive, and social development. This study consists of a single study visit where a child will compete testing similar to play activity with a developmental psychologist.