A photo of Stephanie Merhar.

Stephanie L. Merhar, MD, MS

  • 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
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.



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.

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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. 2022.

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. 2022.

Neurobehavior in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit-Window to the Future?. Demauro, SB; Merhar, S. JAMA Network Open. 2022; 5.

Trial of Erythropoietin for Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy in Newborns. Wu, YW; Comstock, BA; Gonzalez, FF; Mayock, DE; Goodman, AM; Maitre, NL; Chang, T; van Meurs, KP; Lampland, AL; Bendel-Stenzel, E; et al. New England Journal of Medicine. 2022; 387:148-159.

Mortality, In-Hospital Morbidity, Care Practices, and 2-Year Outcomes for Extremely Preterm Infants in the US, 2013–2018. Bell, EF; Hintz, SR; Hansen, NI; Bann, CM; Wyckoff, MH; DeMauro, SB; Walsh, MC; Vohr, BR; Stoll, BJ; Carlo, WA; et al. Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey. 2022; 77:389-391.

Potential missed opportunities for antenatal corticosteroid exposure and outcomes among periviable births: observational cohort study. Travers, CP; Hansen, NI; Das, A; Rysavy, MA; Bell, EF; Ambalavanan, N; Peralta-Carcelen, M; Tita, AT; Van Meurs, KP; Carlo, WA; et al. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2022.

Neural alterations in opioid-exposed infants revealed by edge-centric brain functional networks. Jiang, W; Merhar, SL; Zeng, Z; Zhu, Z; Yin, W; Zhou, Z; Wang, L; He, L; Vannest, J; Lin, W. Brain Communications. 2022; 4.

Duration of noninvasive respiratory support and risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia or death. Gentle, SJ; Carper, B; Laughon, MM; Jensen, EA; Williams, A; Travers, CP; Ambalavanan, N; Lal, CV; Carlo, WA. Journal of Perinatology. 2022; 42:454-460.

Hydrocortisone to Improve Survival without Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia. Watterberg, KL; Walsh, MC; Li, L; Chawla, S; D'Angio, CT; Goldberg, RN; Hintz, SR; Laughon, MM; Yoder, BA; Kennedy, KA; et al. New England Journal of Medicine. 2022; 386:1121-1131.

Extracallosal Structural Connectivity Is Positively Associated With Language Performance in Well-Performing Children Born Extremely Preterm. Barnes-Davis, ME; Williamson, BJ; Merhar, SL; Nagaraj, UD; Parikh, NA; Kadis, DS. Frontiers in Pediatrics. 2022; 10.

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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