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Nazeeh N. Hanna, MD, Chief of Neonatology, Receives Grant from March of Dimes - Archived
April 20, 2011

With the help of funding from the March of Dimes, Nazeeh N. Hanna, MD, Chief of Neonatology and Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics at Winthrop-University Hospital, will examine whether low dose inhaled carbon monoxide, known to be toxic in high dose but protective in low dose, can prevent preterm labor associated with infection. Dr. Hanna is one of five scientists whose work will be supported by the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Initiative (PRI) grants. The 2011 grants of almost $2.4 million bring the seven-year-old program’s grant total to nearly $20 million.

“New research is critical if we hope to continue the recent two-year decline of our nation’s preterm birth rate,” said Jennifer L. Howse, PhD, President of the March of Dimes. “We’re proud to support the work of researchers such as Dr. Hanna, with the hope that he will build on what we already know about the causes and prevention of prematurity so that more babies will get a healthy start in life.”

“Carbon monoxide, a gas produced by the human body, when given in a very low dose has been shown to be safe and effective in several diseases,” said Dr. Hanna. “Although we believe that the use of very low dose carbon monoxide as a potential therapy for preterm labor in humans is in its early stages of investigation, our studies will serve as a model that will help identify more effective prevention and treatment strategies for preterm labor using this novel therapy.”

Preterm birth, defined as birth before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy, remains a leading cause of infant death in the United States. Infants who survive an early birth are more likely to face serious and sometimes lifelong health problems, including complications with breathing, jaundice, developmental delays, vision loss and cerebral palsy.

Following three decades of increases, in 2008 the nation saw the first two-year decline in the preterm birth rate, to 12.3 percent. Despite the improvement, more than half a million babies are born too soon each year.

The March of Dimes has maintained an unwavering commitment to reducing the occurrence of preterm birth. In addition to Dr. Hanna, the 2011 PRI grant recipients include:

• John J. Moore, MD, professor, Department of Pediatrics and Reproductive Biology, MetroHealth Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH;
• Carole R. Mendelson, PhD, professor, Department of Biochemistry, Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX;
• Leslie Myatt, PhD, professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX; and
• Louis J. Muglia, MD, PhD, Edward Claiborne Stahlman professor, Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies®, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit or

Winthrop-University Hospital is a New York State Regional Perinatal Center – a prestigious designation that recognizes the Hospital’s commitment to delivering the highest level of obstetrical and perinatal care. For more information about obstetrical and gynecological services at Winthrop, call 1-866-WINTHROP.

Contact: Leanna Cherry
Publications Specialist
(516) 663-2234