The Child Health program aims at linking top referent care for pediatric patient groups and prevention of chronic disorders in children so they will become healthy adults.
The Child Health program covers the period from peri-conception, pregnancy and birth, to adulthood. The program is building a scientific infrastructure encompassing various fields of research connected to clinical patient groups and the open population. The four research themes are interconnected by the strong focus on basic science on the one hand and public health on the other hand.
The overarching goal for all themes is to provide an evidence base for (a) optimal and cost-effective treatment of patients, (b) minimized adverse short-term and long-term health effects of treatment, and (c) optimal primary prevention. In addition, each research theme has set its individual ambitions.
The Child Health program focuses on specific patients groups.
Edward (E.S.) Nieuwenhuis (1965) is paediatrician, Chairman of the Division of Pediatrics Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital/UMC, Utrecht and chair of the child health program. His current research aims at IBD, stem cells, genetics and mucosal immunology.
Key to this is the collaboration with the department of genetics and the Hubrecht Institute for developmental biology. The laboratory now focuses on the regulation of intestinal epithelial proliferation end differentiation in health and disease.
Main goals are to further enhance translational research by integrating basic laboratory research and clinical databases for specific targeted patient cohorts, incorporated and linked with electronic patient records & Biobank and to develop novel diagnostic and prognostic treatment algorithms based on immune biomarkers.
Main goals are to evaluate current and novel techniques of infertility treatment on (cost-) effectiveness and long-term safety for mothers and their offspring. The so-called “Barker hypothesis” stresses the significance of fetal development for the future health of offspring. Slowly, emphasis is shifting to even earlier events during and before conception, such as the potential effects of fertility treatment.
Main goals are to identify genes that cause rare diseases, to develop diagnostic and screening tests, to establish organoid culture systems for therapeutic usage and to implement results in clinical care including somatic stem cell transplantation. Various inherited rare disorders like intestinal and liver failure are an important focus in this research line of regenerative medicine. The program encompasses stem cell based organ cultures, the development of a biobank for intestinal and liver diseases, the generation and use of human induced pluripotent cell lines as disease models, development of relevant animal models and gene mutation correction strategies.
Main goals of the research theme Respiratory Infections are to unravel mechanisms that may trigger respiratory disease both in young infants and children with recurrent respiratory infections, as in patient groups with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), and immunodeficiency. This may ultimately lead to new treatment and prevention strategies. Current strategies are evaluated in order to optimize interventions in the first years of life for optimal cost-effectiveness and to avoid long-term adverse health effects.
In 2012 the UMC Utrecht announced their wish to establish the first Dutch oocyte bank for donation. After much debate the Minister of Health informed the house of parliament that she sees no objection in the UMC Utrecht further developing this program. Oocyte donation should be done for altruistic reasons and only some compensation for costs related to the treatment may be reimbursed.
The oocyte bank may help couples wishing to have a child, but who are unable to generate offspring using own eggs. In general, such women, however, are able to achieve a pregnancy and have off-spring using in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor eggs.
The need for an oocyte bank follows from the trend of women postponing the wish to have a child. Some women, especially the ones that are higher educated and have jobs, just wait too long and their individual path towards menopause does no longer coincide with spontaneous conception.
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is the most prevalent orphan disease in Western countries, affecting 1:4750 life births in Western countries. CF is a genetic disease characterized by recurrent respiratory tract infections, leading to respiratory insufficiency and early death in young adulthood. The treatment burden is high, including intense physiotherapy, exercise, nebulisation, tube feeding and use of multiple drugs, which requires a multidisciplinary approach.
During last 10 years the UMC Utrecht headed the national discussion in centralization of CF-care in The Netherlands. In 2000 the UMC Utrecht collaborated with over 50 hospitals, delivering shared care to almost all patients, currently care is completely centralized to 6 academic hospitals. The UMC Utrecht chaired the development of national treatment guidelines for CF. The UMC Utrecht had a leading role in organizing benchmarking of quality of care between centers and in the definition of health care outcomes, reported to government, health care assurance companies and the public domain. These actions resulted in improved adherence to treatment guidelines in all centers.