Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

October 23, 2018
This is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month…so glad this issue is getting attention.  While I regularly work with individuals and couples who are struggling with pregnancy loss or who have lost children, it is difficult to talk about.  It is difficult to write about.  I think, and I think most who have gone through it will agree, it is one of the most difficult things we can endure.  Why?  Because having a child is love.  Being a parent is love.  The emotions we experience in these relationships are at the core of what it means to be human.  So, despite the fact that it is difficult to talk about pregnancy and infant loss, I love my job, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with individuals and couples through their grief as they continue to build and raise their families.  These are the families that make up the communities we live in and enrich our lives.

I am also grateful to have the opportunity to work with the March of Dimes (MOD) Prematurity Research Center at Washington University.   The MOD has a long history of supporting families with premature babies, but they are branching out.  More recently, the March of Dimes has broadened their attention to supporting healthy mothers and healthy communities.  They recognize that these elements are essential to having and raising healthy children. The work I’ve been doing with the MOD focuses on things that we can modify prior to pregnancy to lead to reduced risks of miscarriage and improved chances of a healthy baby.  Our most recent findings from this work were presented at this year’s annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Denver, Colorado.  Here’s a summary from one reporter about our findings:

I’ve learned a lot working with the MOD, and I’m proud to be a part of it.  In addition to supporting the Prematurity Research Center at Washington University, the MOD also supports research centers at 4 other centers in the U.S. including the Ohio CollaborativeUniversity of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, University of Chicago-Northwestern-Duke along with one international center at London Imperial College.  We work cooperatively with these centers to learn more about the causes of adverse pregnancy outcomes and to understand how we can improve pregnancy outcomes in the future.

Kelle Moley, MD recently joined the MOD as their Chief Scientific Officer.  Kelle was part of our team at Wash U for years, and she was my fellowship director when I came to Wash U in 2005.  I trained in her lab during my fellowship and that’s where my interest in preconception modifiable risk factors was sparked.  As a fellow in Kelle’s lab I studied the impact of obesity and diet/nutrition on pregnancy outcomes.  I’ve learned a lot from Kelle.  She is an incredible scientist and physician (she’s a member of the National Academy of Sciences), and it will be exciting to see how she impacts the MOD and their research mission in the future as we strive for improved maternal-child health here and across the globe.

Post by: Emily Jungheim, MD, MSCI