A photo of Stephanie Merhar.

Stephanie L. Merhar, MD, MS

  • Attending Neonatologist, Perinatal Institute, Neonatology and Pulmonary Biology
  • Research Director, NICU Follow Up Clinic
  • Principal Investigator, Cincinnati site, NICHD Neonatal Research Network
  • Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics
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.
Stephanie L. Merhar, MD, MS



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.

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.


Infants with perinatal brain injury; neonatal follow up.

Services and Specialties

Newborn Intensive Care NICU, Perinatal, Fetal Care, Neonatology


Follow-up outcomes; advanced neuroimaging to predict outcomes in infants with brain injury and prenatal substance exposure

Research Areas


Additional Languages


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Early-Life Outcomes in Relation to Social Determinants of Health for Children Born Extremely Preterm. Brumbaugh, JE; Vohr, BR; Bell, EF; Bann, CM; Travers, CP; McGowan, EC; Harmon, HM; Carlo, WA; Duncan, AF; Hintz, SR; et al. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2023; 259:113443.

Incidence rates of childhood asthma with recurrent exacerbations in the US Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program. Miller, RL; Schuh, H; Chandran, A; Aris, IM; Bendixsen, C; Blossom, J; Breton, C; Camargo, CA; Canino, G; Carroll, KN; et al. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2023; 152:84-93.

Eat, Sleep, Console Approach or Usual Care for Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal. Young, LW; Ounpraseuth, ST; Merhar, SL; Hu, Z; Simon, AE; Bremer, AA; Lee, JY; Das, A; Crawford, MM; Greenberg, RG; et al. The New England journal of medicine. 2023; 388:2326-2337.

The Influence of Mediators on the Relationship Between Antenatal Opioid Agonist Exposure and the Severity of Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome. Devlin, LA; Hu, Z; Ounpraseuth, S; Simon, AE; Annett, RD; Das, A; Fuller, JF; Higgins, RD; Merhar, SL; Smith, PB; et al. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2023; 27:1030-1042.

Heterogeneity of Treatment Effects of Hydrocortisone by Risk of Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia or Death Among Extremely Preterm Infants in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network Trial: A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial. Gentle, SJ; Rysavy, MA; Li, L; Laughon, MM; Patel, RM; Jensen, EA; Hintz, S; Ambalavanan, N; Carlo, WA; Watterberg, K; et al. JAMA Network Open. 2023; 6:e2315315.

Outcomes of Babies with Opioid Exposure (OBOE): protocol of a prospective longitudinal cohort study. Bann, CM; Newman, JE; Poindexter, B; Okoniewski, K; DeMauro, S; Lorch, SA; Wilson-Costello, D; Ambalavanan, N; Peralta-Carcelen, M; Limperopoulos, C; et al. Pediatric Research. 2023; 93:1772-1779.

Health Care Utilization During the COVID-19 Pandemic Among Individuals Born Preterm. McGowan, EC; McGrath, M; Law, A; O'Shea, TM; Aschner, JL; Blackwell, CK; Fry, RC; Ganiban, JM; Higgins, R; Margolis, A; et al. JAMA Network Open. 2023; 6:e2310696.

MRI Findings in Third-Trimester Opioid-Exposed Fetuses, With Focus on Brain Measurements: A Prospective Multicenter Case-Control Study. Nagaraj, UD; Kline-Fath, BM; Zhang, B; Vannest, JJ; Ou, X; Lin, W; Acheson, A; Grewen, K; Grant, PE; Merhar, SL. American Journal of Roentgenology. 2023; 220:418-427.

Psychometric Properties of the Prenatal Opioid Use Perceived Stigma Scale and Its Use in Prenatal Care. Bann, CM; Newman, JE; Okoniewski, KC; Clarke, L; Wilson-Costello, D; Merhar, S; Mack, N; DeMauro, S; Lorch, S; Ambalavanan, N; et al. JOGNN - Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing. 2023; 52:150-158.

Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome: An Update on Developmental Outcomes. Benninger, KL; McAllister, JM; Merhar, SL. Clinics in Perinatology. 2023; 50:17-29.

From the Blog

$8M Grant Funds Long-Term Opioid Exposure Study

$8M Grant Funds Long-Term Opioid Exposure Study

Stephanie L. Merhar, MD, MS10/6/2021

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