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Innovation and Discovery

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A Prescription for Touch: Early Experiences Shape Preterm Babies’ Brains

Newborn babies experience the world through touch, and researchers have now found that a preterm baby’s earliest experiences of touch have lasting effects on the way their young brains respond to gentle touch when they go home. Nathalie Maitre, MD, principal investigator in the Center for Perinatal Research at The Research Institute and director of the NICU Follow-up Program at Nationwide Children’s, and her colleagues measured the brain responses of 125 infants, including babies who were born prematurely and others who went full-term. Based on their findings, which were published in Current Biology, Dr. Maitre and her team are now designing new ways to provide positive touch in the NICU and investigating how a baby’s brain response to touch interacts with their brain response to the sound of a person’s voice.

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Quality Improvement Project Reduces Emergency Department Visits and Hospital Admissions for Patients With Epilepsy

Nationwide Children’s Hospital serves almost 3,500 children diagnosed with epilepsy, and in 2012 and much of 2013, the Emergency Department was experiencing approximately 17 visits per 1,000 epilepsy patients per month. Anup Patel, MD, a pediatric epileptologist and member of the Division of Neurology at Nationwide Children’s, collaborated with colleagues on a quality improvement project to decrease the ED numbers for patients with epilepsy. Approximately 19 months after the project was implemented, there had been a 28 percent reduction in ED visits, as well as a 43 percent reduction in the rate of unplanned hospitalization and an associated health care cost savings of $2 million. The findings were reported in a recent issue of Pediatrics.

Read the Research Now article.

Article Highlights Needs of Rural Children, Families with Mental, Behavioral and Developmental Disorders

In the latest of a series of reports on child mental health, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention documents that rural children from small communities have more mental, behavioral and developmental disorders (MBDDs) than those living in cities and suburbs. Kelly Kelleher, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice and vice president of Health Services Research at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s, is co-author of a Perspectives article published in the New England Journal of Medicine that outlines the disparities and how they could potentially be addressed. Other authors include investigators from Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Centre for Child Mental Health Services and Policy Research at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

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