Early Career Research Award Recipient: Dr. Pesch
Dr. Megan Pesch is a Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician at the University of Michigan, where she splits her time between clinical and research pursuits. Her clinical interests include supporting the development of children with delays, autism spectrum disorder, behavioral challenges, as well as children with congenital hearing loss. Dr. Pesch’s research seeks to examine clinician education and practices around CMV prevention and diagnosis. In addition, she is investigating social-emotional and behavioral concerns in children with congenital CMV.
Recent work has noted a link between congenital CMV (cCMV) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), positing that the infection may promote a maternal immune activation, causing immune molecules to cross the placenta and interfere with fetal brain development. In order to better understand the possible association between cCMV and ASD in the United States, Dr. Pesch will first examine the prevalence of congenital CMV in U.S. children with autism spectrum disorder.
At present, there are no evidence-based preventative measures that can be taken to prevent autism. Therefore, understanding the link between cCMV and ASD is extremely important, as cCMV is a relatively easy to prevent infection with proper education. If cCMV was found to be a proximal cause of ASD, there would likely be increased public health interventions around cCMV prevention, which could in turn prevent ASD cases. Furthermore, finding an association between cCMV and ASD may provide additional momentum towards CMV vaccine development.
Congratulations Dr. Pesch!
Category: Clinical, "Fueling Our Mission"