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Research Studies

The WMHP is a leading women’s mental health research center.  Our studies focus on the course of mental illness during pregnancy and the postpartum period, pregnancy-related changes in the clearance of psychiatric medications, quantifying infant medication exposure during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and the well-being of infants whose mothers experienced perinatal mental illness and/or received psychiatric medication during pregnancy.  Our active studies include:

Prenatal Environment & Resting Brain Activity in Newborns of Mothers with Bipolar Disorder 

This study examines brain activity in newborns of mothers with bipolar disorder.  We are measuring connections among different brain areas while the baby is sleeping.  We are especially interested in brain networks related to emotional reactivity (limbic areas - "gas pedal") and emotional regulation (prefrontal cortex - "brake pedal").  We are using functional MRI to measure resting brain activity in healthy newborns. fMRI does NOT involve radiation, and NO sedation is used during this study.  The scans are collected at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta on Emory's campus.  Your baby will be swaddled in a special blanket that keeps infants still, safe and comfortable.  Newborn-sized ear plugs and ear muffs are provided to reduce noise.  Then, to help your baby fall asleep, you're given time to soothe and feed your baby in a quiet, dimly lit private room.  Once your baby is asleep, the scan, which takes 9-12 minutes, is performed.  Most babies sleep the entire time.  During the visit, you will complete questionnaires about mood, stress, medication use, and labor & delivery.  In addition to being compensated for your time, you will receive a picture of your baby's brain.  Approximately 40 newborn babies and mothers will take part in this study.

Efficacy of Massage and Touch Therapy for the Treatment of Cancer-Related Fatigue (CRF) in Breast Cancer Survivors

The goal of this study is to explore the 1) the effectiveness of 6 weeks of Swedish massage therapy vs. an active control condition (light touch) and an inactive control condition (wait list) on cancer related fatigue in women, ages 18 to 65. Women above the age of 65 may be enrolled at PI discretion; (2) change in quality of life based on self-report quality of life measures; (3) and to analyze the effects of the touch therapies on immune function and fatigue scores. Participants need to be at least six months post treatment for Stage 0-IIIA breast cancer, that consisted of surgery and treatment with standard anthracycline- and/or taxane-based chemotherapy plus radiation (6 weeks of definitive whole breast or chestwall irradiation at a dose of 50.0 Gy with a 10-16 Gy boost). This study is NOT open to women who are currently pregnant or plan to become pregnant during the course of the study.  If you think you might qualify for this study, please call (404) 778-2497 for more details or to enroll. Approximately 72 adult women with cancer-related fatigue will take part in this study.