A photo of Stephanie Merhar.

Attending Neonatologist, Perinatal Institute, Neonatology and Pulmonary Biology

Research Director, NICU Follow Up Clinic
Follow Up Principal Investigator, Cincinnati site, NICHD Neonatal Research Network

Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Board Certified

My Biography & Research


Since I was 12 years old, I knew that I wanted to be a pediatrician. What could be better than being a doctor who gets to work with kids? During my pediatric residency at Cincinnati Children’s, I was drawn to neonatology because it offered me the opportunity to care for acutely ill babies and build long-term relationships with families through the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) follow-up clinic.

As a neonatologist who cares for sick and preterm babies, I have a special interest in babies with brain injury and those exposed to substances such as opioids.

In my practice, I listen carefully to families. I know that I don't have all of the answers and that parents know their child best. In the NICU and our follow-up clinic, we collaborate with families and other care providers, such as neurologists, pulmonologists, therapists, nutritionists and nurses.

The research I do focuses on how the newborn brain can bounce back from insults including brain injury and substance exposure. I am also interested in using MRI as a tool to predict and improve the outcomes of term and preterm babies with brain injury. I am honored every time someone is interested in the research my team is doing.

Additional Languages


Clinical Interests

Infants with perinatal brain injury; neonatal follow up.

Research Interests

Follow-up outcomes; advanced neuroimaging to predict outcomes in infants with brain injury.

Academic Affiliation

Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

Clinical Divisions

Newborn Intensive Care NICU, Perinatal, Fetal Care, Neonatology

Research Divisions


My Locations

My Education

MD: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 2005.

Residency: Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 2005-2008.

Fellowship: Neonatology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 2008-2011.

Certification: Pediatrics, 2008.

My Publications

Factors that Influence Longitudinal Growth from Birth to 18 Months of Age in Infants with Gastroschisis. Nair, N; Merhar, S; Wessel, J; Hall, E; Kingma, PS. American Journal of Perinatology: neonatal and maternal-fetal medicine. 2020; 37:1438-1445.

Medication treatment for opioid use disorder in expectant mothers (MOMs): Design considerations for a pragmatic randomized trial comparing extended-release and daily buprenorphine formulations. Winhusen, T; Lofwall, M; Jones, HE; Wilder, C; Lindblad, R; Schiff, DM; Wexelblatt, S; Merhar, S; Murphy, SM; Greenfield, SF; et al. Contemporary Clinical Trials. 2020; 93:106014-106014.

Center, Gestational Age, and Race Impact End-of-Life Care Practices at Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Fry, JT; Matoba, N; Datta, A; DiGeronimo, R; Coghill, CH; Natarajan, G; Brozanski, B; Leuthner, SR; Niehaus, JZ; Schlegel, AB; et al. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2020; 217:86-91.e1.

Rewiring the extremely preterm brain: Altered structural connectivity relates to language function. Barnes-Davis, ME; Williamson, BJ; Merhar, SL; Holland, SK; Kadis, DS. NeuroImage-Clinical. 2020; 25:102194-102194.

Neonatal Functional and Structural Connectivity Are Associated with Cerebral Palsy at Two Years of Age. Merhar, SL; Gozdas, E; Tkach, JA; Parikh, NA; Kline-Fath, BM; He, L; Yuan, W; Altaye, M; Leach, JL; Holland, SK. American Journal of Perinatology: neonatal and maternal-fetal medicine. 2020; 37:137-145.

White matter injury and structural anomalies in infants with prenatal opioid exposure. Merhar, SL; Parikh, NA; Braimah, A; Poindexter, BB; Tkach, J; Kline-Fath, B. American Journal of Neuroradiology. 2019; 40:2161-2165.

Tube feeding outcomes of infants in a Level IV NICU. Williams, SL; Popowics, NM; Tadesse, DG; Poindexter, BB; Merhar, SL. Journal of Perinatology. 2019; 39:1406-1410.

The ACT NOW Clinical Practice Survey: Gaps in the Care of Infants With Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome. Snowden, JN; Akshatha, A; Annett, RD; Crawford, MM; Das, A; Devlin, LA; Higgins, RD; Hu, Z; Lindsay, E; Merhar, S; et al. Hospital Pediatrics. 2019; 9:585-592.

Objective and Automated Detection of Diffuse White Matter Abnormality in Preterm Infants Using Deep Convolutional Neural Networks. Li, H; Parikh, NA; Wang, J; Merhar, S; Chen, M; Parikh, M; Holland, S; He, L. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2019; 13.

Does the initial surgery for necrotizing enterocolitismatter? Comparative outcomes for laparotomy vs. peritoneal drain as initial surgery for necrotizing enterocolitis in infants < 1000 g birth weight. Yanowitz, TD; Sullivan, KM; Piazza, AJ; Brozanski, B; Zaniletti, I; Sharma, J; Nayak, SP; Wadhawan, R; Reber, KM; Murthy, K; et al. Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 2019; 54:712-717.