Fetal Brain Development in Congenital Heart Disease

This project investigates factors influencing fetal brain development in congenital heart disease to give insight into ration methods for fetal neuroprotection. The proposal addresses three key gaps in current knowledge: (1) the regional specificity and timing of onset of abnormal brain structure in congenital heart disease; (2) the physiological mechanisms that lead to abnormal fetal brain development; and (3) the fetal brain correlates of neurodevelopmental outcome. The study will employ innovative structural MRI techniques to address these aims, harnessing cutting edge MRI processing tools to correct for fetal motion and address one of the major limitations of fetal neuroimaging. Pregnant women will undergo fetal MRI twice during pregnancy, and after birth children will undergo neurodevelopmental testing at two years of age. The findings from this investigation will clarify mechanisms of abnormal brain development in congenital heart disease and inform development of fetal therapies to mitigate the neurological effects of congenital heart disease.