Liisa Lehtonen profile picture
Professor, Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
MD, Professor in Pediatrics

Areas of expertise

Preterm infants, Quality improvement
Family Centered Care
Developmental outcomes of preterm infants


Professor Liisa Lehtonen, MD, is the Head of the Division of Neonatology at Turku University Hospital in Turku, Finland. Her research interest is to optimize the longterm outcomes of preterm infants. She leads the PIPARI Study group which has followed 232 very preterm infants since year 2001 ( with the aim to identify risks and protective factors for the brain development of preterm infants. As parents' active participation in neonatal care seems to be an essential protective factor for longterm outcomes of preterm infants, professor Lehtonen and her team have developed an intervention to improve the skills of neonatal staff to collaborate with parents. The Close Collaboration with Parents training program is an intervention to make a change in neonatal care culture. A multidimensional implementation and evaluation study is ongoing to measure the impacts of the training from the perspectives of the staff, parents and the child.     


Professor Lehtonen is the chairperson of the Committee of Specialist Training at University of Turku. She represents University of Turku in the National Committee for Specialist Training at the Ministry of Health and Welfare.  


Professor Liisa Lehtonen has got her post-doc research training at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She is leading large, longterm follow up studies at University of Turku related to the outcomes of preterm infants. Her interest is to find out care strategies protecting brain development and, thereby, optimizing the longterm developmental outcomes of preterm infants. The PIPARI Study (2001-) follows 232 very preterm infants ( The implementation and evaluation study of the Close Collaboration with Parents training program studies how parents' presence and involvement can be supported in neonatal intensive care units and how parent-infant closeness affects child, parent and staff outcomes. The Close Collaboration with Parents training program has been implemented in 11 hospitals and two new units will start the program in 2018.

Professor Lehtonen has also led the PERFECT Preterm Study showing the benefits of centralizing preterm births to level III hospitals. She continues register studies as a part of iNeo Research group led from Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada.  


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