USF College of Nursing receives NIH funding to conduct study about human milk on preterm infants
Maureen E. Groer, RN, PhD, FAAN, Gordon Keller Professor and Director of Women’s Health Research is the Principal Investigator on a new $400,000 research grant received by the University of South Florida College of Nursing from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct scientific research on the association between preterm milk volume and immunobiology with infant health.
The NIH funding will cover Dr. Groer’s two-year study which aims to estimate the extent of relationships between milk immunobiology and preterm infant health outcomes, and the extent of the relationships between the total volume of human milk received in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and preterm infant health outcomes.
“No studies have told us if there is a true dose-response or threshold effect for the health effects of mothers’ own milk on the outcomes of very low birth weight babies,” Dr. Groer said. “With this funding from NIH we can begin to answer this important question.”
Dr. Groer will collaborate with Terri Ashmeade, MD, Neonatologist and Medical Director of NICU at Tampa General Hospital (TGH), to help provide the accurate recordings and assessments necessary to determine how much human milk each of the 100 infants in the study receives over a six-week period. Dr. Ashmeade and nurses working with mothers and babies at TGH’s NICU will assist in the measurement of the outcomes including weight gain, time to feeding, and discharge. During this process, they will also measure immune properties of human milk and assess for intestinal inflammation and skin immunity in these small infants. As co-investigator, Jason Beckstead, PhD, Associate Professor at the USF College of Nursing, will help Dr. Groer analyze the research data collected over the two-year study.