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Local survey explores impact of pandemic-related stress’ on new moms and babies

MIND Lab needs input of new moms and pregnant moms to decipher impact on baby brain development

ROANOKE, Va. – New moms and expecting moms, the MIND Lab in Roanoke needs your input for important coronavirus research.

MIND is an acronym for Maternal Influence on Neurodevelopment. The lab does MRIs on babies’ brains and first launched in August 2019.

When the pandemic started, the MIND Lab had to quickly redirect focus. Scientists created a survey to explore how the stresses surrounding coronavirus may impact a pregnant woman or woman who had a baby within the last six months and how that may be a factor in her child’s brain development.

The survey will help launch bigger research and hopefully better shape the future.

“That will help form decisions in the future about maybe maybe we need to do something specific for pregnant women during a large scale health crisis such as this. We don’t know that because it hasn’t been, at least in recent history, there hasn’t been anything in this magnitude,” said Brittany Howell. She is assistant professor at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.

Once enough results are gathered the MIND Lab wants to create a cohort that will meet after the pandemic to further the study. So women taking the survey must be in driving distance from the Roanoke lab.

Survey questions cover basic demographics, the mother’s pregnancy experience and if that woman or anyone she lives with was exposed to or tested positive for coronavirus.

Howell said, “I know we’re asking a lot. Even 30 minutes is a lot of mom’s time is valuable but I really want people who wouldn’t necessarily result to these surveys to see if they can find the time because we can’t as scientists serve anyone if we don’t know what they need.”

The lab is part of a national network and as research continues, labs will be able to compare numbers from state to state.

MIND Lab is also working on a survey for women who aren’t pregnant.

To start the survey, click here.

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.