Projects

The MOM-COPE Project: Measuring the Outcomes of Maternal COVID-19-related Prenatal Exposure

Which are the consequences of prenatal stress in women and infants during the Covid-19 outbreak?

In this research project, we will study the level of emotional and psychological distress of women who were pregnant during the first nine months of 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic in Northern Italy. A network of more than 10 neonatologies will be involved. Second, we will follow-up their infants from birth to 12 months for emotional, social and cognitive development assessments. Third, 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.

2020 status: starting

The EnFORCE Project: Engaging with Families in On-line Rehabilitation for Children during the Epidemic

How can we grant continuity of care to families of children with neurodevelopmental disability during the Covid-19 emergency?

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).

2020 status: starting

Eye-Tracking Study of Maternal Sensitivity in Interaction with Visually Impaired Children

How is maternal caregiving affected by visual impairment in the child?

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. For example, is the partial or total lack of a visual channel for reciprocal attunement linked with different caregiving strategies for emotional regulation? In this study, 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).

2020 status: starting

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).

2020 status: ongoing

The EPI-BOND Project: Early Parenting Intervention - Biobehavioral Outcomes in infants with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

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).

2020 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).

2020 status: ongoing

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.

2020 status: closed

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).

2020 status: closed

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