Doctor shares research in baby growth failure

Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 6:17 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Taking the next step in research, that’s what one event in Northeast Arkansas hopes to accomplish.

Medical professionals gathered Friday, Jan. 13 for Research Day at St. Bernard’s in Jonesboro.

Enrique Gomez, Neonatologist and Head of Pediatrics for the health care system, said the data is important to the growth of the next generation.

As a regional hub for medical care, St. Bernard’s Healthcare works to stay up to date with new research.

Gomez said there are two projects they are working on, with one tracking how pre-mature babies grow and working to prevent growth failure.

“In premature babies, we have a lot of growth failure in the country. They said about 30 to 40% of babies that are born pre-term have growth failure,” he said.

The other looks at drug use before, during, and after the pandemic, especially maternal drug use.

“What we have noticed in Arkansas, especially in the last three years is that there is a lot of maternal drug use, especially marijuana,” Gomez said.

He said both projects go hand in hand because babies grow slower when mothers use drugs, smoke, or drink alcohol during pregnancy.

Gomez said the data they collect will help mothers that have positive drug use.

“The objective is not to punish the mother, but the objective is to identify why this is happening and try to help or look into the social determinants of health,” he said.

Gomez added they have tracked the growth of premature babies for the past few years, noting they have decreased growth failure in pre-mature babies to about 5 to 10%.