Projects

The Preterm Behavioral Epigenetics (PBE) research project

How do our early experiences get under the skin and contribute to make us who we are?

In this research project, we aim at investigating the epigenetic biomarkers (e.g., DNA methylation and telomere length regulation) of early exposures to adverse conditions and protective care in very preterm infants and we follow-up these infants until preschool-age in order to understand how experience-related epigenetic modifications contribute to the long-lasting shaping of infants' phenotype.

The study is supported by the Italian Ministry of Health. This is a collaboration between the 0-3 Center for the at-Risk Infant and the Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico (Milano, Italy).

Principal collaborators: Renato Borgatti, Rosario Montirosso, Livio Provenzi, Fabio Mosca, Monica Fumagalli, Francesco Morandi, Roberto Giorda, Uberto Pozzoli

2018 status: ongoing

The Child Outcome of Maltreatment: Epigenetics and Telomeres (COMET) research project

Which are the biological markers of maltreatment in children?

In this research project, we aim at investigating the epigenetic biomarkers (e.g., DNA methylation and telomere length regulation) of childhood trauma and maltreatment in a longitudinal and prospective study design. Outcomes will include both cognitive (i.e., memory functioning) and emotional (i.e., stress regulation) measures.

The study is supported by the Italian Ministry of Health. This is a collaboration between the 0-3 Center for the at-Risk Infant and La Nostra Famiglia Unit in Ostuni (Brindisi).

Principal collaborators: Francesco Craig, Livio Provenzi, Rosario Montirosso, Roberto Giorda, Antonio Trabacca

2018 status: starting

The Functional Evaluation of Eating Difficulties (FEEDS) scale research project

How can we detect early impairments in newborns' oral-motor skills, in order to support professionals' clinical decisions and the healthcare journey of infants with neurodevelopmental disabilities?

In this research project, we aim at developing a developmental sensitive tool for the neonatal screening and assessment of oral-motor skills in infants with (or at risk for) neurodevelopmental disabilities, namely the FEEDS. A precocious and adequate assessment of oral-motor skills is key to support clinicians' decision making about the best (re-)habilitation intervention for the infant. The possibility to accurately predict oral-motor behaviors across the first years of life in at-risk infants is crucial to provide each single subject with the adequate care and interventions needed to support transition to autonomous feeding.

This study is supported by the Italian Ministry of Health.

Principal collaborators: Renato Borgatti, Anna Cavallini, Livio Provenzi, Daniela Sacchi

2018 status: ongoing

The Wearable Attention Tools for Child-Mother Environment (WATCh-ME) research project

How can technological innovation support and contribute to deliver early effective interventions for infants and children with neurodevelopmental disabilities?

In this research project, we aim at developing innovative technological solutions to be integrated into the already existing (re-)habiltation programs for infants and children with different neurodevelopmental disabilities (e.g., cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders, genetic syndromes). These innovative devices are meant to support the healthcare journey of these infants and children, both in the hospital and home settings.

This study has received awards from PoliHub (Politecnico, Milan, Italy) and Hacking Health Italia.

Principal collaborators: Livio Provenzi, Rosario Montirosso, Gianluigi Reni

2018 status: ongoing

The Epigenetic Trial of Mother-Infant Intervention

Do epigenetic mechanisms and processes contribute to the beneficial effects of early mother-infant interventions?

In this research project, we aim at investigating the epigenetic correlates (e.g., DNA methylation and telomere length regulation) of early mother-infant interventions (i.e., video-feedback support to parenting) in dyads with infants diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Previous research documented that early mother-infant interventions might be beneficial for both mothers and infants health and development. Nonetheless, we have limited information for what pertains dyads of infants with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Moreover, we have little knowledge of the mechanisms underlying the positive effects of early mother-infant interventions. Findings from this study will be extremely relevant from a scientific point of view, revealing some of the biochemical pathways involved in the effectiveness of early relational interventions for at-risk infants. Moreover, this research project is meant to provide further evidence-base support to early mother-infant interventions during the very first months of life.

This study is supported by the Italian Ministry of Health (Ricerca Finalizzata 2016 - "change promoting project"). This is a collaboration of the 0-3 Center for the at-Risk Infant with the Fondazione IRCCS C. Mondino (Pavia, Italy) and the University of Brescia (Brescia, Italy).

Principal collaborators: Rosario Montirosso, Livio Provenzi, Roberto Giorda, Elisa Fazzi, Simona Orcesi

2018 status: ongoing

The Infant Socio-Emotional Memory Study

Do human infants have memory of socio-emotional events during the first months of life?

In this research project, we aim at investigating 4-month-old infants' memory for socio-emotional events in a laboratory setting through the conjoint use of behavioral, physiological and neuroendocrine indexes of stress regulation during the Face-to-Face Still-Face procedure. Better knowledge of memory functioning during early infancy is warranted to contribute to scientific progress on early human development in typical and atypical conditions as well as to inform early relational interventions for at-risk infants.

This study is supported by funds from the Italian Ministry of Health. This is a collaboration with prof. Ed Tronick, University of Massachusetts, Boston (MA, USA).

Principal collaborators: Rosario Montirosso, Livio Provenzi, Ed Tronick, Maria Elisabetta Raggi, Francesco Morandi

2018 status: closed

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