USD’s Center for Disabilities awarded grants

USD's Center for Disabilities awarded grants The University of South Dakota announced March 9 that the director of research at the Center for Disabilities is sharing two grants totaling more than $3 million to study and decrease the prevalence of births affected by prenatal alcohol exposure.

Dr. Amy Elliott is collaborating with researchers at the University of North Dakota and Columbia University on projects that were awarded grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A $2.5 million grant from the CDC will be used to reduce the number of alcohol exposed pregnancies in efforts to promote the birth of healthy infants in South and North Dakota.

The funds will be used to implement prevention efforts aimed at women who are at high-risk for drinking alcohol during pregnancy and monitor the number of individuals diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and other prenatal alcohol-related conditions.

Through a $640,255 planning grant from the NIH, the collaborators will research the role prenatal alcohol exposure plays in fetal death, stillbirth, and sudden infant death syndrome with the ultimate goal of decreasing fetal and infant mortality rates. The planning grant is a first step to forming an international research team that will design a comprehensive examination of the relationship between prenatal alcohol use and stillbirth/SIDS. According to Dr. Elliott, this could be the beginning of significant grant-funded research on stillbirth/SIDS in South Dakota.

Dr. Elliott said that this kind of research and prevention is sorely needed in South Dakota. "The Center for Disabilities has been collecting data on fetal alcohol syndrome in South Dakota for three years and we believe that we are above the national average in our number of cases," Dr. Elliott said. "We hope these grants will allow us to be a significant part of the solution to this serious problem in our state."

Dr. Elliott is the director of research for the Center for Disabilities, which is a division of the Department of Pediatrics at The University of South Dakota School of Medicine.

The center works to improve the lives of persons with disabilities and their families by creating opportunities through academic training, community education/technical support, information dissemination, research/evaluation, and services/supports.

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