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About the InfantRisk Center

The InfantRisk Center (IRC) is a world-wide call center presently in the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, in Amarillo.

The InfantRisk Center is used by physicians, nurses, lactation consultants, and mothers in every part of the world. Virtually all calls are about multiple drugs, averaging 3-4 individual drugs. We do our best to help moms, lactation consultants, and doctors evaluate the risk to the infant from exposure to multiple drugs, and keep the mom breastfeeding.

Ask any of our staff, and they will tell you that this call center is a labor of love. We work every day to answer difficult and often unknown problems for our callers. But we are almost always able to find a way to help these desperate moms find a needed medication while pregnant or breastfeeding.

WHAT ARE OUR GOALS?

Years ago we realized that no one was doing drug research in breastfeeding mothers, and that it was ultimately up to us to do this research. Since 2013, we’ve published more than 25 drug studies, and we have a dozen more under development right now. But there is so much more that we need to understand about human milk, and we are rapidly entering this field with projects involving human oncogenes in milk, and human endocannabinoids in human milk. With funding, we could open an entirely new endeavor to understand the endocrinology of human milk, and how our endocrine system controls milk production.

Some of our newest goals are:

  • Develop new research on the transmission of newly released drugs into human milk.
  • Develop new research on the transmission of Cannabis products into human milk.
  • Develop new research on the endocannabinoids found in human milk. What are they doing there?
  • Train new physicians and pharmacists in Breastfeeding Medicine.
  • Train medical, pharmacy and nursing students in Breastfeeding Medicine.
  • Develop a new set of training video modules for healthcare professionals.
  • Increase the number of calls we can support from moms and healthcare providers.
  • Help more moms to continue breastfeeding safely.

Our Research Laboratories

The InfantRisk Center operates a highly sophisticated set of Clinical Pharmacology laboratories with the most up-to-date technologies including Mass spectrometry and numerous new biological and Elisa tests. We have dozens of projects underway which include all aspects of breastfeeding pharmacology, molecular medicine and genetics. We are consistently publishing data on new drugs each year and studying many aspects of lactation, including a new study to detect cancer antigens present in human milk. We have a new study to try and determine why some women have high prolactin levels, but can't make milk. Is it an unusual prolactin molecule? Maybe.

We have recently started a whole series of studies on the presence of endogenous CB1 receptor stimulants (the endocannabinoids), with some startling results we will present in the new few months.

We are helping pharmaceutical firms to breastfeeding research on their new drugs, so we can get the data on such drugs and council moms about their safety. Finally, the pharmaceutical industry is interested in studying the transmission of their drugs into human milk.

Drugs we are interested in studying:

Participate in Research

InfantRisk Center Team

Dr. Thomas Hale, PhD, RPh

Dr. Thomas Hale, PhD, RPh

Thomas Hale, Ph.D., R.Ph., is a professor of pediatrics and associate dean of research at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and acting executive director of the InfantRisk Center. Hale is considered one of the foremost expert in the field of perinatal pharmacology and the use of medications by pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

The vision of the InfantRisk Center is to create a new body of drug information concerning the safety of medications and their use during pregnancy and lactation. Additionally, the center will expand, enhance and disseminate knowledge regarding the use of medications and other environmental chemicals by pregnant and breastfeeding women worldwide.

Dr. Teresa Baker

Dr. Teresa Baker

Teresa Baker, MD. graduated from the University of Texas Southwestern and completed her residency training at Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, TX. She is Board Certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Dr. Baker has a combined private and academic OB/GYN practice with the University Physicians at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in Amarillo. She is interested in teen pregnancy, postpartum depression, and promoting preventive medicine for the women of the Texas Panhandle, as well as Resident and Student education and serves as the Residency Director.

Dr. Christine D. Garner, PhD, RD

Dr. Christine D. Garner, PhD, RD

 

Christine D. Garner, PhD, RD, completed her doctorate Nutrition at Cornell University, where she was an NIH Doctoral Trainee in Maternal and Child Nutrition. She was trained as a Registered Dietitian at the University of California San Francisco, where she also worked for several years as a Pediatric Clinical Dietitian.

Garner’s interests involve maternal and child health from a nutritional perspective. The majority of her research has centered on maternal obesity and breastfeeding, and she has used a combination of statistical and qualitative methods to investigate research questions pertaining to these topics.

Dr. Palika Datta, PhD

Dr. Palika Datta, PhD

Palika Datta Ph.D. is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Texas Tech University School of Medicine. She completed her Ph.D. in All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Dr. Datta did postdoctoral work at TTUHSC School of Pharmacy before joining the InfantRisk Center 4 years ago. She has broad experience in conventional biochemistry and molecular biology techniques. Liquid chromatography mass spectrometry, Microarray, Protein expression, purification in mammalian and bacterial cell culture system. Dr. Datta runs and supervises our highly sophisticated clinical pharmacology laboratories.

Kaytlin Krutsch, PharmD, MBA, BCPS

Kaytlin Krutsch, PharmD, MBA, BCPS

Kaytlin Krutsch, PharmD, MBA is a board-certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist with a background in nutrition, clinical pharmacy, managed healthcare, and entrepreneurship. She is an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine. 

 

Dr. Krutsch is pursuing a PhD in translating knowledge to action at The George Washington University. She is passionate about improving the decision-making process when a mom’s need for medication is complicated by breastfeeding and the risks involved with exposing an infant to the drug. This starts with studying which medications transfer into milk and ends with moms making informed decisions.

Kathleen A Rewers-Felkins

Kathleen A Rewers-Felkins

Kathleen A Rewers-Felkins is a Research Associate in the Department of Pediatrics at Texas Tech University School of Medicine. She received her Bachelors of Science from Loyola University Chicago and completed her Masters of Science at University of Houston. She has worked for Harrington Cancer Center, including a clinical trial as well as in several TT research labs, involved with cell culture, bacterial culture, PCR assays, animal work and liquid chromatography/mass spectrophotometry.

Dr. Skye McLaurin-Jiang, MD, MPH, FAAP

Dr. Skye McLaurin-Jiang, MD, MPH, FAAP

Skye McLaurin-Jiang, MD, MPH, FAAP is Board Certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Amarillo. Dr. McLaurin-Jiang  grew up in Amarillo, Texas and completed medical school at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. She competed Pediatrics residency at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 2017 and then a NRSA Primary Care Research Fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine in 2020. Since 2017, she has also clinically practiced as a pediatric hospitalist and newborn nursery attending. Her clinical and research interest center on maternal child health, health equity, provision of breastfeeding care, and newborn screening practices.

Dr. Amanda Griffin, MD

Dr. Amanda Griffin, MD

Amanda Griffin MD graduated from University of Nebraska Medical Center and completed her residency training in Pediatrics from Texas Tech University School of Medicine. Her practice includes direct patient care as well as supervision and education of residents and students in the outpatient clinic, newborn nursery, and inpatient ward. She also serves the same roles in a clinic for children with special healthcare needs.

Dr. Griffin also helped establish and presently supervised a breastfeeding clinic in the Department of Pediatrics. She supervises a Board Certified Lactation Consultant and helped expand the access of our patients to lactation services in our community. She is a Pediatric hospitalist and admits and cares for inpatients of private pediatricians in Amarillo.

Dr. Rachel Anderson, MD

Dr. Rachel Anderson, MD

Rachel Anderson MD is an assistant professor of pediatrics. She graduated from Texas Tech University School of Medicine in 2013 and completed her Pediatric residency at TTUHSC Amarillo in 2016. She has interests in Foster Care, breastfeeding, child abuse and neglect, and other disorders in pediatrics.

Dr. Todd Bell

Dr. Todd Bell

Todd Bell, MD. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics although he is double boarded in Pediatrics and Internal Medicine. He received his MD from the University of Arkansas School of Medicine cum laude in 2001. He completed a combined general internal medicine and general pediatrics residency in Durham, North Carolina at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Bell has extensive research experience, particularly in influenza, infectious diseases, and dysautonomia.

Sandra Lovato, RN

Sandra Lovato, RN

Sandra Lovato, RN is a Registered Nurse and telephone advisor for the InfantRisk Center. She received her ADN from the Amarillo College of School of Nursing in May of 2008. She began working at the InfantRisk Center in November of 2013 as a Senior Adviser for Dr. Hale. Since she began working under Dr. Hale, she has learned a lot about the effects of medications and their passage into breastmilk. She is glad to be a part of such a valuable and important resource for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and seeks to help mothers have a long, healthy breastfeeding relationship with their child.

Alicia Gill, RN

Alicia Gill, RN

Alicia Gill, RN is a Registered Nurse and telephone advisor for the Infant Risk Center. She graduated the Vocational Nursing Program from Clarendon College in 2007. Then she received her ADN from Amarillo College in 2010. She began working at the Infant Risk Center in June of 2019 as a Senior Advisor for Dr. Hale. She has learned a lot about the effects of medications and their passage into breastmilk. She is excited to be a part of an important and valuable research center for pregnant and breast feeding moms.