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Population, Family and Reproductive Health


The work of faculty in the child health focal area extends to education and training, research, practice and policy. The areas of interest may be grouped into the following areas:

Early Childhood Systems

Promoting the Cycle of Engagement Between the Family and the Provider

Christina Bethell, Salvia Zeeshan, Mary Wahl
The Cycle of Engagement (COE) is a model of parent-centered care for well-child visits in pediatrics to improve quality and outcomes of all aspects in well-child care. The two web-based tools consist of the Well-Visit Planner (WVP), which is aimed at pre-well-visit planning, and the Online Promoting Health Development Survey (PHDS), which is utilized for post-visit assessment of quality of care given.
Learn more at the Cycle of Engagement.

Early Childhood Home Visiting Applied Research Collaborative

Anne Duggan (PI), Cynthia Minkovitz, Sarah Crowne
This initiative is a national network of several hundred local home visiting programs and home visiting researchers who together carry out dissemination, implementation and comparative effectiveness research to address the top priorities of the national home visiting research agenda.  Major trans-model studies focus on advancing workforce development and implementation systems to support effective visitor - family communication and service coordination.   
Learn more at 
Home Visiting Research Network

Evaluation of New Jersey’s Project LAUNCH

Cynthia Minkovitz (PI), Anne Duggan
Project Launch promotes a comprehensive, coordinated health system to address the physical, emotional, social, behavioral, and cognitive aspects of child wellness from pregnancy to age eight using evidence based practices.

Mother and Infant Home Visiting Program Evaluation

Anne Duggan (PI), Cynthia Minkovitz, Sarah Crowne
National multi-site randomized trial and implementation study of evidence-based home visiting through DHHS's Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.  The study assesses impacts on intended outcomes, multi-level factors for service delivery, and program features that moderate impacts.   

Statewide Evaluations of Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs in Maryland, New Jersey and Hawaii

Maryland and New Jersey:  Anne Duggan (PI), Cynthia Minkovitz;  Hawaii:  Elizabeth McFarlane (PI), Anne Duggan
Utilization-focused evaluative research to increase the accessibility, effectiveness, efficiency, coordination, quality and impact of home visiting in improving outcomes and reducing health and developmental disparities of at-risk expectant families and families with young children.

Using Stakeholder-driven Research to Strengthen Coordination of Health and Human Services to Advance Early Childhood Care for Vulnerable Families

Cynthia Minkovitz (co-PI), Anne Duggan (co-PI), Allison West
Research to advance the building of early childhood systems of care for vulnerable families by strengthening the role of home visiting in coordinating health and human services. This project develops a framework for coordination, creates a set of indicators to measure its achievement, and assesses the extent of coordination at the state and local levels.

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Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN)

CARE_PATH for Kids Model and Tools

Christina Bethell, Salvia Zeeshan, Mary Wahl
Family engagement serves as a foundation when it comes to successfully implementing tools into practice that benefit the development and implementation of care plans, while meeting the child and family’s clinical care and other needs. Funded by the Lucille Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, the CARE_PATH (CPK) model aims to promote this through its extensive 4-part model with its primary focus being on Family Foundations planning, processing, implementing.

Evaluation of Improving Services for Children and Youth with ASD/DD

Cynthia Minkovitz, Kristin Mmari (evaluators for Parents Place)
The goal of this project is to improve services for children and youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities (DD) in the state of Maryland.

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Child Health Measurement

Maternal Child Health Measurement Research Network

Christina Bethell
(2016-2019) The Measurement Research Network (MRN) has designed a measurement framework and agenda dedicated to supporting, coordinating, and advancing efforts related to MCH measurement, measurement innovation, and shared accountability. One of the most notable features of the MRN is the “MRN Measurement Compendium,” which provides over 1000 MCH measures from 11 different measure sets; its purpose is to allow users to quickly browse all these measures by measure set, data source category, and/or 3 levels of topical categories.

Learn more at the MCH Measurement Research Network.

The National Data Resource Center (DRC)

Christina Bethell
(2018-2023) The DRC is the largest project of the CAHMI. Primarily promoting the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), the DRC aims to provide essential maternal and child health data at the national, regional, and state-level, in order to inform and enhance maternal and child health policy and practice. The DRC provides quick and easy-to-use access to NSCH data through its interactive data query, as well as free downloadable data sets and codebook for further those seeking further analysis..

Learn more at the National Data Resource Center.

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Policies to Promote Child Health

Building on the Momentum for Trauma-Responsive Policies and Approaches to Promote Thriving and Healing among vulnerable and diverse Californians

Christina Bethell
With support from The California Endowment, Dr. Bethell is working to promote trauma and ACEs screening in California. In 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom set aside Marijuana Expenditures from Proposition 64 in order to fund this effort within the state. Dr. Bethell has explored and researched ways to best apply these expenditures to properly distribute them among those who need it most.

Learn more at California Prop 64 Expenditures.

Cookshop Longitudinal Evaluation

Kristin Mmari (PI), Beth Marshall, Susan Gross, MaryCatherine Augustyn, David Paige
To examine the impact of a nutrition education program, Cookshop, on the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors in regards to healthy eating among low-income elementary school students and their parents in New York City. 

District Splitting in Uganda

David Bishai
This study looks at the impact on health system performance from Uganda’s policy of decentralizing control and splitting districts.

Feeding Baltimore’s Children: The Impact of Community Eligibility

Susan Gross (PI), Anne Palmer, Marycatherine Augustyn
Study of the impact of the Community Eligibility Provision on food insecurity among Baltimore City Public School Students and their families.

Step Wedge Trial of Crèches and Play Pens to Prevent Child Drowning in Bangladesh

David Bishai, Natalia Alfonso
This study will compare injury rates and child developmental outcomes among children exposed and unexposed to crèche-type day care and the introduction of play pens in rural Bangladesh.

Strengthen the Evidence Base for Maternal and Child Health Programs

Cynthia Minkovitz (PI), Donna Strobino, Holly Grason, Susan Gross
This project provides support and resources to assist State Title V MCH programs in incorporating available scientific evidence in developing State Action Plans and responding to national and state performance measures.
Learn more at, and visit the MCH Digital Library.

Using Census Data on State Public Health Spending to Identify State Policies tied to Lower IMR

David Bishai
This study examines 25 years of data on state spending on health, state spending on hospitals and Medicaid spending to assess the association of spending to infant mortality.

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Child Development

Fetus to Five

Sara Johnson
Study of social influences on self-regulatory development from the prenatal period to age 5. 

Leveraging Progress to Advance Knowledge, Data and Resources to Build a Culture of Health for Children Youth and Families

Christina Bethell
(2018-2020) One of the core foundations of the CAHMI has been to build resilience and overall support for children who have experienced trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Children’s Hospital Association, CAHMI is committed to RWJF’s goal of “Creating a Culture of Health” by focusing on research promoting whole child, person, and population well-being, through policy and practice.

Understanding and Promoting Language Development in Young Children in Baltimore City

Sara Johnson (PI), Tracy King, Megan Bair-Merritt
Study of the role of maternal psychosocial distress on language development in very low-SES families, and piloting on novel language processing technology (LENA). 

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Early Life Origins of Disease

To learn more, visit the Center on Early Life Origins of Disease.

Children’s Memorial Food Allergy Study Consortium (Foundation FARE funded study)

Xiaobin Wang, Guoying Wang, Xiumei Hong, Sheila Walker, Deanna Caruso, Corrinne Keet, and faculty from BSPH, SoM, Northwestern University (NU), Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (LCH) and University of Pittsburgh
A consortium created for collaboration to further research on food allergy using data obtained from the Children’s Memorial Hospital Food Allergy Study, the Chicago Family Cohort. The consortium supports a dozen projects ranging from genetics, epigenetics, epidemiological and clinical determinants, to psychosocial stress due to food allergies.

Early Life Determinants of Obesity in U.S. Urban Low Income Minority Birth Cohort

Xiaobin Wang, Bruce Lee, Tina Cheng, Sally Radovick, Xiumei Hong, Guoying Wang, Hongkai Ji, and other faculty at BSPH, SOM and Boston Medical Center
The major goals of this project are to identify early life risk and protective factors for obesity development; explore the mediating effect of the epigenome; and to develop a Virtual Birth Cohort (VBC) systems dynamics model.

Post Genome-Wide Association Study of Food Allergy

Xiaobin Wang, Xiumei Hong, Deanna Caruso, Guoying Wang, Sheila Walker, Zhu Chen, and faculty from BSPH, SoM, BUMC, Northwestern University (NU), Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (LCH) and University of Pittsburgh
The central focus of this study is to further replicate promising genetic variants identified by the ongoing GWAS and to conduct fine mapping to search for potential causative genes of food allergy.

Genome-wide Association Study of Preterm Birth

Xiaobin Wang, Guoying Wang, Xiumei Hong and faculty from BSPH, SoM and Boston University Medical Center (BUMC)
The major goal of this project is to conduct genome-wide association study to identify susceptibility genes of preterm delivery in a multi-ethnic, high-risk, U.S. birth cohort enrolled in Boston.

Prenatal Multi-Level Stressors and Alterations in Maternal and Fetal Epigenomes

Xiaobin Wang, Pam Surkan, Winnie Tang, Xiumei Hong, Hongkai Ji, and other faculty at BSPH, SOM and Boston Medical Center
We aim to test the hypothesis that maternal psychosocial stressors can affect maternal and offspring DNA methylation profiles that is detectable at birth in the Boston Birth Cohort.

Preterm Birth, Maternal and Cord Blood Metabolome, and Child Metabolic Risk

Xiaobin Wang, Frank Hu, Xiumei Hong, Guoying Wang, Irina Burd, Sally Radovick, Hongkai Ji, and other faculty at BSPH, SOM, Harvard, MIT and Boston Medical Center
This study aims to investigate whether prematurity and maternal and fetal metabolic characteristics can jointly affect the future development of child adverse metabolic outcomes in the Boston Birth cohort.

Prospective Birth Cohort Study on Pre- and Peri-natal Determinants of Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities

Xiaobin Wang/Dani Fallin (Co-PIs), Anne Riley, Xiumei Hong, Deanna Caruso, Guoying Wang, Zhu Chen, Mengying Li, and other faculty at BSPH and KKI and Boston Medical Center
The goal is to investigate preconception, pre- and peri-natal risk factors and diagnostic and service patterns for ASD in a prospective birth cohort.

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