Measuring the Outcomes of Maternal COVID-19-related Prenatal Exposure

What is the effect of prenatal stress lived during the Covid-19 emergency by pregnant women on their wellbeing and the development of their infants?

A network of more than 10 neonatologies will be involved in the study. We will follow-up infants from birth to 12 months for emotional, social and cognitive development assessments. Moreover, we will explore the role of epigenetic regulation of specific stress-related target genes in mediating the relationship between maternal stress and infants' outcomes with a longitudinal and prospective approach.

The study is supported by the Italian Ministry of Health. This is a collaboration between the IRCCS Mondino Foundation and more than ten neonatologies in the territory of Northern Italy.


Mask-response in Autism Spectrum at-risk Kids
Mamma e figlia

Is wearing mask really affecting the ability of young children to elaborate and process emotional signals? 

There is a general concern about the short- and long-term effects of mask-wearing by adults who take care of young infants and children. We know that face processing is key to emotional elaboration and regulation. Nonetheless, we don't know if hiding details behind the mask is resulting in significant alterations of emotional regulation and socio-cognitive skills. In this study, we want to explore this research question by assessing the emotional and socio-cognitive response to an adult wearing a protective mask in siblings of children with autism and in age-matched controls.

The study is supported by the Italian Ministry of Health. This is a collaboration between the IRCCS Mondino Foundation and the NIDA Network.

Maternal Eye-Track

Eye-tracking Maternal Sensitivity in Mothers of Visually Impaired Infants

How does infants' visual impairment affect the way mothers interact with them?

In this research project, we want to explore if and how the presence of visual impairment in the child affects the way mothers behave during the interaction. We will take advantage of eye-tracking techniques, in order to focus on the visual exploration that mothers make when interacting with the children and when trying to interpret their children's emotional state.

The study is supported by the Italian Ministry of Health. This is a collaboration between the IRCCS Mondino Foundation (Pavia, Italy) and the Italian Institute of Technology (Genova, Italy).


Engaging Families in Online Rehabilitation for Children during the Epidemic

Is family-centered tele-rehabiliation helpful for families of children with disability?

One of the indirect consequences of the Covid-19 epidemics is the suspension of the traditional rehabilitation programs for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. These children and their parents may feel alone during this unprecedented emergency. By means of tele-communication we can provide adequate support and mantain healthcare engagement while respecting the physical distancing norms required to mitigate the virus spread. The project consists in the provision of child programs and parental support in tele-rehabiliation and in the assessment of its efficacy and effectiveness for families.

The study is supported by the Italian Ministry of Health and carried out at the IRCCS Mondino Foundation (Pavia, Italy).


Fathers in Neonatal Environment, Supporting Salubrious Experiences

How do fathers deal with restrictions to NICU visiting during the Covid-19 emergency?

In this research project, we investigate the emotional response and the coping strategies of fathers of infants admitted to neonatal units and intensive care environments during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey is led by Dr. Esther Adama, Edith Cowan University, Australia and it is supported by all the members of the FINESSE international group featuring researchers from UK, France, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, USA, Australia.


Early Parenting Intervention - Biobehavioral Outcomes of Infants with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

Can we help parents helping their children with disability through brief, intensive video-feedback 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).


The Infant Socio-Emotional Memory Study

Are young infants able to remember socio-emotional interactions and events lived in first person?

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 was supported by funds from the Italian Ministry of Health and University of Massachusetts, Boston (MA, USA). This study is closed.


Supporting Parenting at Home: Empowering Rehabilitation through Engagement

Can we support families of children with disabilities through on-line video-feedback?

Video-feedback support for parents is well-validated as an early and effective method to promote parental caregiving skills, the quality of parent-child interaction and ultimately the child development. Nonetheless, the resources needed for extensive video-feedback programs in hospitals or at home are huge and not all families can benefit from this kind of systemic intervention. In this project, we will deliver video-feedback support to parents of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities on-line, connecting with parents through PC, tablet or smartphones. In this way, we want to reduce the gap between family needs and healthcare system response.

The study is supported by the Italian Ministry of Health and carried out at the IRCCS Mondino Foundation (Pavia, Italy).


Understanding Low-vision Infants' Socio-cognitive Skills Emergence
Red Head Baby

How do socio-cognitive skills emerge in low-vision infants who lack key visual hints to build social and interactive expectations? 

Many of the early precursors of social cognition - e.g., pointing, social referencing, anticipation of intentions - strongly rely on visual cues that the infant receives from her interactive environments. But what happens when an infant presents a severe low-vision condition? In this study, we want to test for early socio-cognitive abilities using auditory clues in the context of the interactive exchange with the caregiver.

The study is supported by the Italian Ministry of Health. This is a collaboration between the IRCCS Mondino Foundation and the University of Milano-Bicocca.


Staff and Parental Adjustment to COVID-19 Epidemic - Neonatal Experience in Tuscany

How is the quality of care experienced by mothers and fathers in NICU affected by COVID-19 mitigation/containment strategies? How are NICU professionals dealing with changes to their daily care actions?

This study involves more than 10 NICUs in the Tuscany region and will provide information on the well-being and quality of care experienced by both mothers and fathers who became parents of a preterm baby during the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy. Also, changes to NICU care practices and work organization will be targeted and reported systematically by different professionals working in the involved units, providing an unprecedented picture of how a neonatal intensive care facility can adapt to a global pandemic.

The study is funded by Regione Toscana and it is led by dr. Luigi Gagliardi (AUSL Toscana Nord Ovest). This is a collaboration between the IRCCS Mondino Foundation and AUSL Toscana Nord Ovest.


Supporting Optimal Parenting: Homevisiting for Immigrant families Engagement

How does it feel to become a parent far from your own family and culture? Can home-visiting intervention help immigrant parents?

In this study we aim to evaluate the subjective experience of immigrant families receiving a home-visiting program after the birth of their newborn. The study will be conducted according to qualitative methodology techniques.

The study is a collaboration between carried out at the IRCCS Mondino Foundation (Pavia, Italy) and ASST Lodi (Italy) and it is supported by the Italian Ministry of Health.


Preterm Behavioral Epigenetics of Adverse and Protective Environments

How does early pain exposure in preterm infants gets under the skin and contribute to developmental pogramming?

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 was supported by the Italian Ministry of Health. This was a collaboration between IRCCS E. Medea and the Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico (Milano, Italy). This study is closed.


Functional Evaluation of Eating Difficulties Scale

How can we measure readiness to weaning in infants with disability?

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 in collaboration with the IRCCS E. Medea and it is supported by the Italian Ministry of Health.