The antenatal research program concentrates on improvement of maternal and fetal health with improvement of childhood, in (high) risk pregnancies. From preconception, complicated (early) pregnancy, towards delivery, postpartum and consequences of these complications later in life. Development and abnormal development and novel diagnostic tests & interventions are being investigated. There is focus on antenatal imaging (ultrasound and MRI) and genetic testing. Also, we develop novel clinical strategies to innovate and improve the quality of care for mother and child.


Family-centered care and research start before birth in close collaboration with the obstetric department. Our clinical research team is responsible for antenatal and neonatal clinical observational and intervention trials with long-term follow-up with a family-centered approach.

Care and research continue until the  age of 10 years;  in partnership with the pediatric rehabilitation, pediatric psychiatry and pediatric neurology center, physiotherapists and psychologists.

We are participating in the congenital heart Disease Life Span: Preventing collateral damage, by our neonatal neurology expertise in the long-term follow-up until schoolage and by running neuroprotective clinical trials, in close collaboration with the pediatric intensivist and cardiologists.

With fetal and neonatal MRI, we are participating in the Utrecht YOUth Cohort Study. This is a large scale, longitudinal cohort study that monitors the development from fetal life during pregnancy until young adulthood.

Physical & mental development

Our clinical observational trials are focusing on predicting long-term neurological and developmental deficits, in close collaboration with rehabilitation specialists, physiotherapists and psychologist. There is a continuum of care and research by close collaboration with child psychiatry and child neurology. The research field of physical and cognitive development of neonatology is part of Healthy play and better coping” program which cross links the physical aspects of pediatrics with social and societal aspects in the strategic program Dynamics of Youth of the Utrecht university.

Next to neuro-imaging and neuro-monitoring research, digital health such as applied data analytics in Medicine (ADAM) is used in predicting adverse outcome in preterm babies.


Patient centred family care is facilitated in collaboration with medical specialist from the UMC Utrecht (cardiology, nephrology, reumatology/immunology) and WKZ (neonatology, cardiology, nephrology, urology, neurology) in other to provide care, science, teaching and innovate for high-risk pregnancies.  

Patient participation

Within all research lines close cooperation with patient advisory boards is a major point of interest. We include pregnant women in the development and analysis of all research. The perspective of the pregnant women regarding the obstetric care is an important theme within our research. Together with the Zorginstute of the Netherlands (ZIN) patient reported outcomes measures (PROM) are being implemented in the obstetric care. Tools to improve shared decison making are being developed. Dr. Lely and Prof Bloemenkamp have close collaboration with HELLP foundation (hypertensive disorders in pregnancy), NVN (Kidney patient organisation) , Harteraad (thrombosis) and NVLE (Lupes patient organisation) for women with high risk pregnancies.