History

The Colorado Institute for Maternal & Fetal Health’s (CIMFH) neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), located at Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado Hospital, have led neonatology advancements throughout the region and beyond, garnering top awards and changing the ways NICUs operate across the country. CIMFH NICUs continue to advance and improve care for maternal and fetal health issues, developing groundbreaking discoveries, and providing a breadth and depth of services that offer mothers and newborns complete care tailored to their unique needs.

A history of neonatology expertise and field-changing discoveries runs deep at both hospitals. In 2007, when both hospitals moved to the Anschutz Medical Campus, years of collaboration and consistent leadership at both hospitals led to the joint venture to create the Colorado Institute for Maternal & Fetal Health in 2010, establishing CIMFH as the epicenter of maternal and fetal care in the greater Rocky Mountain region.

Paving the Way for Neonatal Care

Neonatology at Children’s Hospital Colorado, the University of Colorado Hospital, and the University of Colorado School of Medicine has paved the way for more than 60 years, creating industry standards and leading best practices.
  • 1947: Dr. Lula Lubchenco helped establish the first Premature Infant Center at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. The center was made possible through the collaboration of Dr. E. Stewart Taylor, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Colorado, and Dr. Harry H. Gordon, the first full-time professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado. The effort was an early step in what would become a partnership between pediatrics and obstetrics and set the stage for the Colorado Institute for Maternal & Fetal Health more than 60 years later. Dr. Lubchenco also developed baby wellness programs and birth weight charts that are used around the world to this day.
  • 1965: Dr. Frederick Battaglia joined the staff at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, leading maternal-fetal and neonatal medicine and pioneering perinatal physiology. Meanwhile, in 1965, Dr. Joseph Butterfield opened the country's first regional center for perinatal care at Children's Hospital Colorado. He also pioneered the concept of regionalized neonatal care.

Throughout the next several decades, both University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado paved the way in neonatology, developing expertise that has continually revolutionized the industry.

Starting in the early 1970s, residencies and expanded fellowships in neonatology led to more overlap between the two hospitals, and by the late 1980s, a partnership between the two institutes ensued. Both facilities were, and continue to be, led by the faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, creating a continuum of care and research unparalleled in the country. Together, the two hospitals expanded the neonatal network of care, providing neonatal expertise to 15 hospitals in the region.

Groundbreaking Research

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Since 1947, the NICUs at University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado have remained among the top neonatal intensive care units for pre-term and ill newborns in the United States and have pioneered many advances in neonatal care.

The General Clinical Research Center (GCRC), now known as the Perinatal Clinical Translational Research Center (CTRC), was established in 1991, providing specialized nursing support to neonatal researchers at the University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado. With the advent of the GCRC and the continued collaboration between the two institutions, research conducted here has translated into new clinical practices, including groundbreaking discoveries in:

  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Extremely low birth weight
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Respiratory failure
  • Prevention of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in neonates
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • HIV
  • Growth and nutrition
  • Lactation
  • Surfactant replacement therapy to help premature lungs develop
  • Brain cooling for perinatal brain injuries
  • Inhaled nitric oxide therapy for pulmonary hypertension and to prevent premature lung disease