All Workshops

WG4 Workshop

Local Organiser
Elena Coronilla Ruiz
Adriana Garcia Lupato
Emma Motrico (Member of Riseup-PPD’s Task Force COVID-19)

Scientific Committee
Members from Riseup-PPD’s Working Group 4 (Ethical standards and procedures for clinical research in PPD)
Susanne Uusitalo

Presenteers: Ilona Autti-Rämö & Susanne Uusitalo

Workshop on Ethical Aspects of Infant’s Neurodevelopmental Assessment: Research and Treatment. Infant neurodevelopmental assessment in research and treatment is an issue that involves many ethical considerations for researchers, caretaking  professionals, infants and their parents. These considerations may also have far-reaching implications for (prevention and mitigation of) vulnerabilities and stigma. The 
balance between the research participants’ rights, their and their parents protection and scientific interests needs knowledge on scientific methods and standards and ethical reflection. This workshop on infant’s neurodevelopmental assessment in research and treatment discusses the ethical aspects and perspectives as well as potential tensions between questions of respect for persons, nonmaleficence, and beneficence.

In this workshop, the participants will examine, through a selection of hands-on, interactive exercises, the ethical considerations and practical implications that face PPD researchers and caretaking PPD professionals during the infant neurodevelopmental assessment. The objective of this workshop session is to cultivate an awareness of and to discuss possible solutions to or strategies for dealing with some of the ethical issues around vulnerability and harm, protection and governance in research and treatment related to PPD. The participants will learn to recognize and describe ethical questions in the infant’s neurodevelopmental assessment, and evaluate the role of ethics in the PPD research and treatment. In particular, the participants will acquire more specific understanding on issues such as notions of vulnerability, harm, stigma and respect for persons. In addition to understanding these and other necessary limitations, the participants will acquire new skills in research and treatment in infant’s neurodevelopmental assessment and a wider understanding of their ethical implications
to many stakeholders.

Access the program here. ​
Read the presentation slides here

​Local Organiser
Elena Coronilla Ruiz
Adriana Garcia Lupato
Emma Motrico (Member of Riseup-PPD’s Task Force COVID-19)

Members of Riseup-PPD’s Working Group 2 (Assessment Approaches and Methods in PPD)
Ilaria Lega and Alkistis Skalkidou 

Members of Riseup-PPD’s Working Group 2 (Assessment Approaches and Methods in PPD) and Working Group 3 (Neuroimaging and Neurophysiological Data Acquisition and Analysis in PPD)
Anna-Lisa Schuler, Vera Mateus, and Sara Cruz

​Presenter: Helga O. Miguel

Workshop on sensory processing and infant neurodevelopment. The workshop will provide a synthesis of the effects of sensory-motor processing on infants and children brain function, with a focus on touch and motion. We will also discuss how basic sensory- motor processes are linked to developmental outcomes in typically developing infantsand infants at risk of developmental disorders, namely autism. Finally, we will discuss
gaps in the literature and how they can be addressed in a way that is meaningful to the research community and families/ stakeholders.

In this workshop, participants will learn about the effects of sensory-motor processing on infants and children brain function, particularly touch and motion. The objective of this workshop is twofold. First, it aims to discuss how basic sensory-motor processes are linked to developmental outcomes either in typically developing infants and pediatric populations at risk of developmental disorders, namely autism. Lastly, it aims to provide and discuss possible gaps in identifying early markers of sensory and motor processing that can be altered in infants’ diagnosed with/at-risk of neurodevelopmental problems.

Access the program here

Hybrid Meeting (Malta and Online)
​Presenters: Susanne Uusitalo, Deirdre Daly, & Susan Hannon

​​The workshop that was organized by the Working Group 2 “Assessment Approaches and Methods in PPD”, focused on the assessment for peripartum depression in clinical and research settings. The Workshop took place online, on the 24th of January 2022.

In the morning session, the discussion was focused on the biopsychological and neuropsychological underpinnings of perinatal depression and how we can investigate them in research settings. Alkistis Skalkidou noted that sex-steroid hormone profile differences may underlie the difference in the prevalence of depression between women and men, most prominent during the reproductive years. As highlighted, pregnancy is a period with immense hormonal fluctuations, with several hormones, such as estradiol, reaching their peak at the end of the pregnancy and decreasing afterward. Several hormonal systems were discussed in relation to the risk for perinatal depression (PPD), such as the immune system, the sex-steroid system, neurotransmitters, but also genetic and epigenetic differences. Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) function in the perinatal period and implication in PPD was discussed by Ana Conde. One of the mentioned findings was that parents with higher depressive and anxiety symptoms seem to have lower levels of cortisol, signifying an overall hypo-activation of the HPA axis. Results of the systematic review of WG2 on inflammatory markers of PPD were also presented. Further, brain imaging studies were presented by Anna-Lisa Schuler. Several ways to conduct brain imaging studies were presented, such as fMRI, structural MRI, and PET. Regarding the meta-analysis that is conducted on the neurological correlates of postpartum depression (PPD), the preliminary analysis pinpointed two important clusters, namely the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and dorsolateral medial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC). Finally, Sara Cruz gave a presentation on the neuropsychological assessment of children. One of the WG2s systematic reviews examined the neural and physiological markers related to socio-emotional and cognitive development in infants of mothers who had experienced PPD. Studies on EED/ERP, fMRI, and the vagal response showed that alteration in infants; neurophysiology is actually related to developmental problems. 

In the afternoon session, the discussion was focused on how to assess perinatal depression in clinical settings. Claire Zefara shared with the group her experience as a midwife in Malta. Midwives in Malta play a crucial role in mothers’ perinatal health, they ask women about their mental health and refer when needed, visit women at home until 8 weeks after pregnancy and they offer consultation on breastfeeding to new mothers. Home visits enable the midwives to detect signs of PPD or relapse of symptoms, and teach new mothers coping skills. Also, midwives help by teaching the extended family further skills. This is important, since in Malta’s culture, the relationship with the extended family is strong, and thus relatives may help the new mother; nevertheless, a possible overinvolvement could be problematic. Ylva-Li Lindahl discussed the screening process of perinatal mental health problems in Sweden. She mentioned that midwives first administer the two Whooley questions (for depression identification) and two questions from the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD-2) during pregnancy and postpartum. Those who respond positively in any of the two Whooley questions and/or report feelings of anxiety, worry, or nervousness more than half the time on GAD-2 are administered the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Women are referred, when needed, to specialized professionals. Also, fear of childbirth is assessed within this routine screening protocol. Barbara Figueiredo highlighted that screening should be done during the 1st trimester of pregnancy because maternal mental health in this trimester predicts her mental health during the pregnancy and postpartum; the 1st trimester has a higher impact on fetus development and the prevalence of perinatal mental health disorders is in its peak. Also, after childbirth, she suggested that screening should be done as soon as possible. Finally, screening should not be limited to the mother but professionals should assess the partner and the child since maternal mental health is impacted by them. Finally, Magdalena Chrzan-Dętkoś and Tamara Walczak-Kozłowska shared their experience from the screening program implemented in Poland. They mentioned that when women completed the EPDS with direct contact with the professionals, the reported prevalence was significantly lower than when they completed it online. Another important point was that many women in this program, even though had the option to attend a psychological consultation when screened positive for PPD, did not actually attend it. This was explained in terms of the stigma associated with PPD.

How to reach patients & mothers?
10.00-10.10 Landsforeningen 1001 dager (The National Association 1001 days from Norway)
10.10-10.20 Mama till Mamma (NGO Mother to Mother from Sweden) – Isabell Lindalen  & Malin Henriksson
10.20-10.30 EUPATI reperesentative – Sara Pérez Martínez 
10.30-10.40 Make Mothers Matter (NGO Belgium) – Laurence Vanden Abeele
10.40-11.00: How to reach mothers and how can we collaborate with mother organisations?

2:30 – 2:45: Ana Fonseca, Welcome to the Workshop
2:45 – 3:25: Pedro L Ferreira, Basic types of economic evaluation
3:25 – 4:05: Carl Camilleri, Cost-effectiveness analysis
4:25 – 5:05: Carl Camilleri, Cost-utility analysis
5:05 – 5:45: Calleja Neville, Cost-benefit analysis
5:45 – 6:00: Pedro L Ferreira, Conclusion

To access the presentation, click here.  

University of Coimbra
2.00pm – 6.00pm

Alice Deleure A. Matos, Universidade do Minho
2:00pm – 3:00pm
Francisco Gude Sampedro, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela
3:30pm – 6:00pm

As the 1998 Turing Award Winner, Jim Gray put it, Data Science can be seen as the fourth paradigm of Science – data-driven scientific discoveries, mostly motivated by the constant developments in Technology and the overwhelmingly increasing amounts of data that are currently available. Despite the lack of consensus as to what makes a Data Scientist, it is clear that we are dealing with a multi-disciplinary field involving statistics, mathematics, machine learning, and computer science, among others. In the search for solutions to real problems, Data Scientists are concerned with how to appropriately design for data collection, how visualizations help in understanding the message behind the data, and how models can predict future trends and provide scientific evidence to decision-making.

In this workshop we will be given two different perspectives of Data Science in Health. Alice Deleure A. Matos from the Universidade do Minho and one of the Portuguese Coordinators of the project SHARE (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, will offer a perspective of the process involving the coordination of a multidisciplinary and cross-national panel database of micro data on health, socio-economic status and social and family networks of about 140,000 individuals (around 380,000 interviews) from 27 European countries and Israel. In the second part of this workshop, Francisco Gude, from the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, will focus on Continuous Diagnostic Tests (biomarkers, risk markers or questionnaires), a subject that is often used to discriminate between healthy and diseased populations. For the clinical application of such tests, the key aspect is how to select an appropriate cut-off point or discrimination value c that defines positive and negative test results. An initial review of the basic concepts of ROC analysis will be given; followed by an overview of the existing methods to select optimal cut-off points in the setting of a continuous diagnostic test; and finally, as a product of a multi-disciplinary team work, the selection of optimal cut-off points will be presented by means of an easily used software, that is a suitable and comfortable way for all those professionals interested in the practical use of this methodology.

University of Coimbra
2.00pm – 6.00pm

Sara Cruz, Lusíada University – Porto; Instituto de Neurodesenvolvimento (IND), Porto
Susana Andrés Perpiña, Instituto de Neurociencias. Unidad de Salud Mental Perinatal y
Servicio de Psiquiatría Infantil y Juvenil, Corporació Sanitària Clínic

Neurodevelopment is a term that refers to brain’s development of neurologic pathways that influences cognitive functioning and behavior. Research in the field of developmental cognitive neuroscience has proposed that brain maturation accompanies different developmental changes as infants achieve new behavioral milestones throughout the first years of life (Paterson, Heim, Friedman, Choudhury, & Benasich, 2006; Johnson, 2000; Casey, Giedd & Thomas, 2000). Accordingly, a reciprocal system between brain and behavior seems evident as brain development is characterized by a continuous specialization and differentiation process that seems to be related to the emergence of distinct behaviors (Nelson & Luciana, 2008). These developments are particularly relevant for the emergence of behavioral milestones associated with social communication development. Many systems are brought to bear to develop and maintain close personal relationships. These systems are motoric, cognitive, linguistic and emotional, where sensory experiences are the infants’ first interaction with the environment, laying down the foundation for high-level functions appearing along the course of development. They coordinate with developments in communication, as children are pressed to express their thoughts and feelings in gestures, words, and sentences (Bloom & Tinker, 2001). Neural signatures underpin these systems. Typical development is considered to have specific neural signatures that can be identified early in the development. Such signatures also can facilitate the recognition of atypical developmental-related problems.

In this workshop we will provide (1) an overview of the brain developmental processes, elucidating some of the techniques available to map infant developmental-related changes in anatomy and function of the brain; discuss (2) practical and clinical aspects of the neuropsychological assessment; and (3) describe the neural and psychophysiological correlates underlying infants’ sensory processing, motoric, cognitive, linguistic and emotional milestones.