In the spring of 2020, in response to overwhelming interest in mother-infant health during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Departments of Pediatrics and Obstetrics & Gynecology at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center rapidly formed the Maternal-Child Research Oversight (MaCRO) committee. MaCRO’s goal is to build collaborative synergy, improve integration of pre-and post-natal research, and generate comprehensive health and disease outcome data on newborns born during the pandemic and their mothers. From this collaboration, the COVID-19 Mother Baby Outcomes (COMBO) Initiative was born. And leading the initiatives charge is Co-Chairs Dr. Dani Dumitriu and Dr. Catherine Monk.
The initiatives goal is to broadly understand the impact of both SARS-CoV-2 infections and the pandemic on the developing fetus, future child health, and future maternal health. Since inception, COMBO has helped document the health and wellbeing of children born during the pandemic, as well as their mothers, with the ultimate goal of early identification and treatment of physical and early relational health concerns that may be caused either by having COVID, or by steps taken to prevent the spread of COVID, such as social distancing and isolation.
The study has grown to be a multidisciplinary effort involving over one hundred physicians, researchers, trainees and staff, in fields ranging from pediatric endocrinology to maternal mental health and neurodevelopment. With more than 70 members spanning numerous Columbia University schools and departments, COMBO uses a collaborative approach to develop each study component through sub-work groups.
Dr. Dumitriu believes that COMBO’s findings will aid in not only the understanding of the effects of this worldwide event on the “COVID generation” (infants born during the pandemic), but also the effects of emotional connections on the resiliency of parents and children.