Sant Pau promotes a framework agreement for sharing data, images, and samples among twenty Spanish hospitals and primary care centers to enhance maternal and child research

Research involving pregnant women, children, and infants represents a significant challenge for science, as safety requirements and study criteria are particularly strict. This often translates into an obstacle to obtaining new evidence-based results that allow for advancements and provide solutions to improve clinical practice in these population groups.

Although these cooperation networks have existed for several years, this situation can take a significant leap forward thanks to the renewal and innovation that this new network brings. Eighteen Spanish entities have signed a framework agreement within the Maternal and Child Health and Development Network (SAMID) of the Health Research Cooperative Networks for Health Outcomes (RICORS) program, coordinated by Dr. Elisa Llurba, the principal investigator of the Perinatal and Women’s Medicine Group at the Research Institute of the Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau – IIB Sant Pau, director of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at the same hospital, and professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).

This RICORS-SAMID maternal and child consortium, established in 2008 and renewed in 2021 with the support of the Carlos III Health Institute of the Ministry of Health, consists of a total of 20 research groups and 27 associated clinical groups from different Spanish research institutes and healthcare centers. This means the participation of more than 300 researchers, including neonatology/pediatrics and obstetrics specialists, primary care pediatricians, biologists, anthropologists, specialists in perinatal mental health, midwives, nurses, primary care and NICU nurses, nutritionists, educators, graphic designers, physical education professionals, among others, who join forces to promote a comprehensive and collaborative plan to improve the health of women, mothers, and babies.

With this new framework agreement, the centers that are part of the RICORS-SAMID network will share research objectives and projects, as well as clinical data, images, and samples, allowing for the creation of the largest information bank in Spain. This will facilitate large-scale clinical trials, innovative studies such as big data and artificial intelligence, and contribute to leadership in this field at the European level.

According to Dr. Llurba, “the agreement signed within the RICORS-SAMID Network is a decisive step in promoting research through collaborative work in the field of maternal and child health, which will also attract talent and access competitive public and private funding.”

The coordinator of the RICORS-SAMID network explains that with this agreement, “we have achieved a legal framework that not only aims to facilitate research among different groups but also intends to be a tool to disseminate advancements so that users themselves and society, in general, can play a more active role in the process. For this reason, an open mailbox has been set up where citizens can express their needs and get involved in the research process through a co-creation and idea incubation process.”


One example of the projects being developed within the RICORS-SAMID network is a study evaluating neurological development in newborns affected by congenital heart disease. Samples from both mothers and infants, as well as prenatal resonance and ultrasound images, and follow-up data during the first years of life, are being analyzed. The goal is to find neonatal and postnatal predictors associated with neurological development and the quality of life of these children.

“Congenital heart diseases are a relatively rare type of congenital malformation, but their impact on health is significant, and we need a lot of data that can be translated into clinical responses and truly improve the health of these children in their daily lives,” says Dr. Llurba.

Furthermore, other projects are underway, studying, for example, prognostic and diagnostic markers for preeclampsia and prematurity, intrauterine growth restriction and its long-term consequences, the effects of environmental pollution and prenatal exposure to substance abuse on maternal and child health, early reproductive losses and their impact on mental health, renal impairment in mothers with preeclampsia, improving the diagnosis of early gestational diabetes during the first trimester of pregnancy and its effect on child neurodevelopment, nutrition and its effects on childhood obesity, neonatal circulatory failure biomarkers, treatment of bacterial sepsis in newborns, resuscitation of premature infants, treatment of complications of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, hypoxic-ischemic brain injuries, diabetes, and the experiences, needs, and expectations of families and patients. Additionally, projects focusing on health education, promoting healthy habits at any age, preventing sudden death and the sequelae of cardiorespiratory arrest through training actions aimed at professionals and citizens, as well as research on clinical and ethical aspects of pediatric palliative care, are also being developed within the network.

The hospitals and research institutes participating in the framework agreement are:

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