Monash research into CDH gives hope to families



Research leading to improved outcomes for babies with congenital diaphragmatic hernia was the focus of a community forum last month in Melbourne.

Led by Associate Professor Ryan Hodges, the Fetal Therapy Research Group at The Ritchie Centre (Monash University and Hudson Institute of Medical Research) is working towards improving outcomes for babies who have difficulty breathing at birth due to a condition called congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH).

Supported by CDH Australia—a charity that supports families along their CDH journey—the research team is investigating new therapies that could help these babies’ lungs develop better during pregnancy.

On Friday 25th May 2018, President of CDH Australia, Ms Tara Gallo, and board member Ms Courtney Vodopic, visited the Monash Health Translational Precinct (MHTP) to gain a better understanding of the bench-to-bedside research being undertaken at The Ritchie Centre and Monash Children's Hospital (MCH).

“Tara and Courtney were really impressed with the care taken in every aspect of the MCH design to ensure that it is a safe and comfortable environment for young children and their families, and couldn't believe the incredible scope of research being undertaken at The Ritchie Centre to improve outcomes for future babies born with CDH,” said Monash University medical student and PhD candidate at The Ritchie Centre Mr Aidan Kashyap.

On Saturday 26th May 2018, CDH Australia held their Annual Forum - an event designed to provide the CDH community with an opportunity to come together to connect, support, and learn.

Guest speakers at the event included MCH paediatric surgeon Mr Ram Nataraja and Aidan Kashyap, who gave presentations on the current management of CDH babies at MCH, and some of the exciting new research on the horizon.

“In CDH, a hole in the diaphragm allows abdominal organs to enter the chest and prevent the lungs from growing appropriately during fetal development,” Aidan said.

“As a consultant paediatric surgeon at MCH, Mr Nataraja is an expert in repairing these hernias after birth.”

“However, many of these babies continue to face difficulties breathing even once the hole is repaired, and some don’t make it to the operating room at all.”

Aidan’s research focuses on improving lung development in these babies before they are born, so that one day all babies with CDH, and their parents, can breathe a little easier.

If you, your extended family, or your patients have been affected by CDH, please get in touch with CDH Australia at cdh.org.au.