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
  • 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; Neonatal / Perinatal Medicine, 2011.


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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Influence of Eat, Sleep, and Console on Infants Pharmacologically Treated for Opioid Withdrawal: A Post Hoc Subgroup Analysis of the ESC-NOW Randomized Clinical Trial. Devlin, LA; Hu, Z; Merhar, SL; Ounpraseuth, ST; Simon, AE; Lee, JY; Das, A; Crawford, MM; Greenberg, RG; Smith, PB; White, JR; Newman, S; Snowden, JN; Young, LW. JAMA Pediatrics. 2024; 178:525-532.

Association of maternal pre-pregnancy or first trimester body mass index with neurodevelopmental impairment or death in extremely low gestational age neonates. Chawla, S; Laptook, AR; Smith, EA; Tan, S; Natarajan, G; Wyckoff, MH; Greenberg, RG; Ambalavanan, N; Bell, EF; Van Meurs, KP; DeMauro, S; Katheria, AC; Ohls, RK; Tyson, JE. Journal of Perinatology. 2024; 44:802-810.

Timing of Red Blood Cell Transfusions and Occurrence of Necrotizing Enterocolitis: A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial. Salas, AA; Gunn, E; Carlo, WA; Bell, EF; Das, A; Josephson, CD; Patel, RM; Tan, S; Kirpalani, H; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child, . JAMA Network Open. 2024; 7:e249643.

Social Determinants of Health and Redirection of Care for Infants Born Extremely Preterm. Brumbaugh, JE; Bann, CM; Bell, EF; Travers, CP; Vohr, BR; McGowan, EC; Harmon, HM; Carlo, WA; Hintz, SR; Duncan, AF; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child, . JAMA Pediatrics. 2024; 178:454-464.

Birth outcomes in relation to neighborhood food access and individual food insecurity during pregnancy in the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO)-wide cohort study. Aris, IM; Lin, PI D; Wu, AJ; Dabelea, D; Lester, BM; Wright, RJ; Karagas, MR; Kerver, JM; Dunlop, AL; Joseph, CL; Hipwell, A; Keenan, K; Karr, C; Tylavsky, F. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2024; 119:1216-1226.

Perinatal Outcomes during versus Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Role of Maternal Depression and Perceived Stress: A Report from the ECHO Program. McKee, KS; Tang, X; Tung, I; Wu, G; Alshawabkeh, AN; Arizaga, JA; Bastain, TM; Brennan, PA; Breton, CV; Camargo, CA; Huddleston, K; Bush, N; Nguyen, R; Barrett, E. American Journal of Perinatology: neonatal and maternal-fetal medicine. 2024; 41:e1404-e1420.

Evolution of the Sarnat exam and association with 2-year outcomes in infants with moderate or severe hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy: a secondary analysis of the HEAL Trial. Mietzsch, U; Kolnik, SE; Wood, TR; Natarajan, N; Gonzalez, FF; Glass, H; Mayock, DE; Bonifacio, SL; Van Meurs, K; Comstock, BA; Smyser, CD; Sokol, GM; Weitkamp, JH; Yanowitz, T. Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition. 2024; 109:308-316.

Diffusion Tensor Imaging to Predict Neurodevelopmental Impairment in Infants after Hypoxic-Ischemic Injury. Tabacaru, C; Braimah, A; Kline-Fath, B; Parikh, N; Merhar, S. American Journal of Perinatology: neonatal and maternal-fetal medicine. 2024; 41:e1740-e1746.

Psychological distress among postpartum women who took opioids during pregnancy: the role of perceived stigma in healthcare settings. Bann, CM; Okoniewski, KC; Clarke, L; Wilson-Costello, D; Merhar, S; DeMauro, S; Lorch, S; Ambalavanan, N; Peralta-Carcelen, M; Limperopoulos, C; Poindexter, B; Davis, JM; Walsh, M; Newman, J. Archives of Women's Mental Health. 2024; 27:275-283.

Prenatal Opioid Exposure and Risk for Adverse Brain and Motor Outcomes in Infants Born Premature. Mahabee-Gittens, EM; Priyanka Illapani, VS; Merhar, SL; Kline-Fath, B; Harun, N; He, L; Parikh, NA. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2024; 267:113908.

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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