Promoting healthy brain development in utero

Anne HallFormer Masonic Early Investigator and U pediatrics faculty member Anne Hall, M.D., is dedicated to understanding the factors that contribute to brain development in early childhood. She is especially interested in what takes place in utero.

As a Masonic investigator, Hall examined the effects of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), a phenomenon during pregnancy that results in fetal weight falling below the tenth percentile.

Infants with IUGR have worse neurodevelopmental outcomes than those who grow normally in utero, but no one knows what leads to these deficits.

After evaluating the effects of IUGR on developing rat brains, Hall’s team found altered neurotransmission in neonatal rats affected by IUGR. They believe that many of the early issues they observed in rats might also underlie behavioral deficits observed in children who experience IUGR. Their research now focuses on whether these early alterations persist throughout development.

This year, Hall moved to Colorado, where she is working as a neonatologist and continuing to explore neurodevelopmental outcomes linked to early intrauterine insults at the University of Colorado. Her research, launched in Minnesota, will contribute to a growing effort to improve outcomes for all babies.