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Yale Neonatal NOuRISH Team

From left to right above: Catherine Buck MD, Sarah N. Taylor MD, Christine Henry, Kimberly Doughty
The Yale Neonatal NOuRISH Team (Yale Neonatal Nutrition Outcomes Research In Sustaining mother and infant Health Team) studies health outcomes affected by pregnancy and lactation and specifically focuses on the mother/infant lactation experience and infant growth and development especially in the setting of growth restriction or prematurity. The NOURISH Team is growing and is considered one of the top research teams in the academic field.

Areas of Research

  • Human milk feeding is associated with improved gastrointestinal health for preterm infants. We are investigating how the gut barrier and gut inflammation is affected by early feeding versus delayed feeding and feeding mother’s milk or donor milk.
  • Human milk, either mother’s own milk or donor human milk, varies in its nutritional composition. We use a mid-infrared human milk analyzer to investigate the energy and protein in human milk and correlate these results with infant health outcomes.
  • Women with diabetes during pregnancy are more likely to experience lactation difficulties. We are studying the factors associated with maternal lactation choices and maternal experience to determine which factors serve as impediments to breastfeeding.
  • The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at YNHH is one of the first hospitals in the United States to have couplet care rooms where an infant receiving intensive care and a mother receiving postpartum care share a hospital room. We are investigating how to optimize the couplet care experience to support breastfeeding, bonding, satisfaction and avoid stress.
  • Infant growth trajectory is affected by exposure to maternal hormones both in fetal development and during lactation. We aim to determine the role of these hormones and how fetal/infant exposures differ due to maternal health.
  • The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at YNHH moved from an open bay unit to a single-family room environment in 2018. We are evaluating the impact of this change in environment on the provision of maternal breast milk, rates of breastfeeding and both short and long-term impacts on infant growth and development.
  • Approaches to the feeding of preterm infants vary across NICU sites. We are evaluating regional NICU inpatient and post-discharge feeding practices to determine the impact of these practices on infant growth and development.
  • Yale was one of the primary sites for the Extremely Low Gestational Age Newborn Study of infants born at <28 weeks between 2002-2004 to evaluate factors contributing to long term health and wellbeing of this at-risk population. We recently completed assessments at 15 years of age evaluating cognitive, behavioral and emotional outcomes, sleep patterns, and overall quality of life. We are beginning our 17-year-old visits in collaboration with the ECHO Consortium and will be assessing obesity, metabolic disease, pulmonary disease and neurodevelopmental outcomes.
  • With our NOuRISH Perinatal Biorepository we aim to collect biological specimens during delivery/initial NNICU stay for all preterm deliveries and term infants admitted to the NNICU.
  • We are investigating adiposity development in preterm infants of diabetic and obese mothers compared to term reference. We collect cord blood at delivery, and infant serum on admission and discharge for use in metabolomic studies. We will prospectively collect growth and body composition assessments (body circumferences, skin fold thickness).

Thank you to our current sponsors: Yale School of Medicine, Allen Foundation, and National Institutes of Health (NIH)