A researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is leading a national research team with a $3.6 million federal grant to study obesity in children with spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly.

Michele Polfuss, joint research chair in the nursing of children at UMW and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, will lead the project team that includes health professionals from pediatric spina bifida programs at CHW, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Children’s Hospital of Alabama-Birmingham and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. A total of 232 children will be involved, reports Milwaukee Business Times.


This study was awarded by the The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. Additional support originates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Spina Bifida Patient Registry, and the Spina Bifida Association.

The Study

The research team is investigating methods of accurately measuring patients’ body composition in a clinical setting. Health providers cannot easily accurately assess weight status with children with spina bifida who may not be able to stand or have orthopedic complications that challenge their ability to have an accurate measure of height and weight performed, reported Polfuss.

The project is aimed at providing families with better guidance regarding nutritional intake recommendations, with a primary goal of preventing and treating obesity.

Nancy Korom, chief nursing officer and vice president at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, reports that “We are happy to help lead the effort on this important and needed research.”

Lead Research/Investigator

Michele Polfuss 

Source: BizTimes

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