University of South Florida Nursing’s professor, Maureen Groer, PhD recently received funding to extend her research on preterm infants and the microbiome of their digestive system. This research grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) is part of a $150 million program called Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO). The focus of ECHO is to allow researchers to study the impact that environmental influences have on children by extending and expanding existing studies on mothers and their children. It will involve 50,000 children the across the United States.
Of this new research award, Dr. Groer states, “The ECHO grant gives us the opportunity to look at pre-term babies and their microbiome, neurodevelopment and school readiness.” The additional funding will allow Dr. Groer and her team to add the environmental component to an ongoing study. They will examine factors such as where the children live, who they live with, where they go to school, their household income, and the form of childcare they receive. According to Dr. Groer, these factors may influence the risk of neurodevelopmental abnormalities.
“We’re making a claim that a huge part of neurodevelopment is the environment,” said Dr. Groer. “So, when children turn 5 years old, they will go through neurodevelopmental tests to determine how ready they are for school.”