Research

We are so fortunate to have two of the world’s best on Olivia’s team.  Dr. Spray & Dr. Rychik, at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, are conducting very important research projects that are making incredible difference in the lives of children with CHD.  Read more about the incredible projects:

Fetal Progesterone Study (Cardiothoracic Research led by Dr. Spray’s Team)

In the United States, approximately 1 in every 100 newborns is diagnosed with congenital heart disease (CHD); and many (25%-35%) have critical CHD necessitating open heart surgery soon after birth. As recently as the 1960’s, only 20% of newborns with critical CHD survived to adulthood. Today, thanks to better diagnostic technologies and methods (including prenatal diagnosis), advances in surgery, and improved postoperative care, early survival is over 90%. However, with improved early outcomes has come the sobering recognition that there is an ongoing risk of late mortality, as well as significant morbidity for these children. In particular, neurodevelopmental disability is now recognized as the most common complication of critical CHD and has the most negative impact on quality of life, academic performance and opportunity for independence as an adult.

We are looking at a new approach and new targets for neuro-protection which are essential to improve outcomes for our patients. Progesterone has been shown to be neuro-protective in multiple forms of brain injury, and also accelerates development. We propose a randomized trial in mothers carrying a fetus with CHD to determine if maternal vaginal therapy with natural progesterone will improve fetal brain maturation and decrease brain injury.

This novel study is the first to evaluate fetal therapy to alter brain development to prevent post-natal injury at the time of cardiac surgery. If successful, this study will result in major changes to current clinical practice and neuro-protective therapies for children requiring cardiac surgery.

Fetal Heart Program (Dr. Rychik)

The Fetal Heart Program is part of CHOP’s Cardiac Center and Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. It was created to offer every resource expectant families could need, including expert evaluation and diagnosis, planning for delivery, and care for your newborn after birth. The Program is unique in that it includes a dedicated team of pediatric cardiologists, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, obstetricians, pediatric cardiac surgeons, fetal surgeons, anesthesiologists, genetic counselors, nurses, social workers and a psychologist — all of whom are focused on the care of babies with congenital heart conditions and their mothers.

Off-set from this program, is the Single Ventricle Survivorship program, which was created to help improve quality and duration of life for these children. As part of this program, generous donors have helped us to establish the ‘Single Ventricle Care and Research Fund’ which supports general supplies for the program, as well as research studies focused on our patients treated in this program here at CHOP.