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MOM-COPE Project

Measuring the Outcomes of Maternal COVID-19-related Prenatal Exposure

Research question | How is maternal prenatal stress experienced by women during the COVID-19 pandemic affecting their psychological well-being and the developmental trajectories of their infants?

Synopsis | A network of 10 neonatology units from Northern Italy is involved in this multicentric and longitudinal study. We follow up mothers and infants from birth to 12 months for emotional, social, and cognitive developmental outcomes. Moreover, we explore the role of epigenetic regulation of specific stress-related target genes in mediating the association between pandemic-related stress and both maternal and infants outcomes.

Funding | Italian Ministry of Health; Fondazione Roche Italia

Project outputs:

Maccarini, J., Nazzari, S., Grumi, S., et al. (2024). Prenatal maternal pandemic-related stress was associated with a greater risk of children having disturbed sleep at 24 months of age. Acta paediatrica. 

Nazzari, S., Cagliero, L., Grumi, S., et al. (2023). Prenatal exposure to environmental air pollution and psychosocial stress jointly contribute to the epigenetic regulation of the serotonin transporter gene in newborns. Molecular psychiatry.

Nazzari S, Grumi S, Mambretti F, et al. (2023) Sex-dimorphic pathways in the associations between maternal trait anxiety, infant BDNF methylation, and negative emotionality. Dev Psychopathol.

Nazzari, S., Grumi, S., Biasucci, G., et al. (2023). Maternal pandemic-related stress during pregnancy associates with infants' socio-cognitive development at 12 months: A longitudinal multi-centric study. PloS One.

Provenzi L, Grumi S, Altieri L, et al. (2023) Prenatal maternal stress during the COVID-19 pandemic and infant regulatory capacity at 3 months: A longitudinal study. Dev Psychopathol.

Nazzari S, Grumi S, Mambretti F, et al. (2022) Maternal and infant NR3C1 and SLC6A4 epigenetic signatures of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown: when timing matters. Transl Psychiatry. 12(1):386.

Nazzari, S., Grumi, S., Villa, M., et al. (2022). Sex-dependent association between variability in infants' OXTR methylation at birth and negative affectivity at 3 months. Psychoneuroendocrinology.​

Provenzi L, Grumi S. (2022) The Need to Study Developmental Outcomes of Children Born During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Pediatr. 176(1):103.

Roberti E, Giacchero R, Grumi S, et al. (2022) Post-partum Women's Anxiety and Parenting Stress: Home-Visiting Protective Effect During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Matern Child Health J. 26(11):2308-2317.

Provenzi L, Mambretti F, Villa M, et al. (2021) Hidden pandemic: COVID-19-related stress, SLC6A4 methylation, and infants' temperament at 3 months. Sci Rep. 11(1):15658.

Grumi S, Provenzi L, Accorsi P, et al. (2021) Depression and Anxiety in Mothers Who Were Pregnant During the COVID-19 Outbreak in Northern Italy: The Role of Pandemic-Related Emotional Stress and Perceived Social Support. Front Psychiatry. 12:716488.

2-BRAINED Project

2-Brain Regulation to Achieve Improved Neuroprotection during Early Development


Research questionHow do parents and infants synchronize their brains? What happens to brain-to-brain synchrony when developmental risk conditions (e.g., preterm birth) are present? Is an early parenting intervention capable of protect synchrony in at-risk conditions?

Synopsis | This study integrates video-feedback intervention and EEG hyperscanning technique to the study of parent-infant interaction to investigate how the brain of parents and infants couple together and resonate during face-to-face interactions in full-term and preterm infants. 

Funding | Italian Ministry of Health (GR-2021: Dr. Livio Provenzi)

Research outputs

Roberti E, Capelli E, Provenzi L. (2023) Envisioning translational hyperscanning: how applied neuroscience might improve family-centered care. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 18(1):nsac061.

SPHERE Project

Supporting Parenting at Home: Empowering Rehabilitation Engagement

Research question | Can we support parents of children with developmental risk or disabilities by engaging them in remote video-feedback supportive interventions?

Synopsis | Video-feedback support for parents is effective to promote parental well-being, caregiving skills, and child development. Nonetheless, the resources needed for extensive video-feedback programs in hospitals or at home are huge and not all families can afford it. The SPHERE projects is a clinical trial on the effectiveness of a video-feedback intervention delivered online to parents of children with developmental risk or disability conditions.

Funding | Italian Ministry of Health (Starting Grant 2019: Dr. Serena Grumi)

Research outputs

Grumi S, Pettenati G, Manfredini V, Provenzi L. (2022) Flexibility and organization in parent-child interaction through the lens of the dynamic system approach: A systematic review of State Space Grid studies. Infant Behav Dev. 67:101722.

Provenzi L, Grumi S, Gardani A, et al. (2021) Italian parents welcomed a telehealth family-centred rehabilitation programme for children with disability during COVID-19 lockdown. Acta Paediatr. 110(1):194-196.

Grumi S, Borgatti R, Provenzi L. (2021) Supporting Parenting at Home-Empowering Rehabilitation through Engagement (SPHERE): study protocol for a randomised control trial. BMJ Open. 11(12):e051817.

MEET Project

Maternal Engagement and Eye-Tracking

Research question | How does the presence of children's visual impairment affect the quality of early interaction with the caregiver and parental capacity to read and make sense of their children's communicative signals?

Synopsis | We explore whether (and how) the presence of child visual impairment affects the way mothers behave during face-to-face interactions. We take further advantage of eye-tracking techniques, in order to focus on maternal visual exploration of their children's communicative signals and emotional cues..

Funding | Italian Ministry of Health

Research outputs

Grumi S, Cappagli G, Aprile G, et al. (2021) Togetherness, beyond the eyes: A systematic review on the interaction between visually impaired children and their parents. Infant Behav Dev. 64:101590.

ULISSE Project

Understanding Low-vision Infants' Socio-cognitive Skills Emergence

Research question | How do socio-cognitive skills emerge in low-vision infants who lack access to key visual hints on others' intentionality?

Synopsis | Many of the early precursors of social cognition - e.g., pointing, social referencing, anticipation of others' intentions - strongly rely on visual cues. What happens in infants who present severe low-vision conditions? In this study, we test early socio-cognitive abilities using a remote auditory interactive task of parent-infant interaction.

Funding | Italian Ministry of Health

This study is a collaboration with Dr. Chiara Turati, University of Milano-Bicocca (Milano, Italy).


How Exploration and Attention Dynamics allow Communication to Arise from Manipulation

Research question | Is infants' visual and manual exploration of the physical world linked with their language and communicative skills? Does parenting environment contribute to the embedding of exploration into communication development?

Synopsis | The use of head-mounted cameras while studying parent-infant interaction will allow us to explore how dyadic visual and manual exploration of known and unknown objects at 18 months facilitates the emergence of language skills at 24 months in full-term and preterm children.

Funding | Italian Ministry of Health

ARIEL Project

Autonomic Regulator Interaction in Early Life

Research question | How do infants and their caregiver co-regulate their body temperature during face-to-face interactive exchanges? How is this physiological co-regulation affected by technoference - as the use of smartphone by the caregiver during the interaction?

Synopsis | By using plug-in thermocameras we will record technoferenced mother-infant interactions obtaining synchronous layers of behavioral and physiological co-regulation and we will explore how the use of a smartphone by the caregiver affects such dyadic regulatory processes.

Funding | Italian Ministry of Health

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