Our research program is focused on two broad areas of maternal and infant nutrition. First, we are interested in understanding the factors that affect the folate and one-carbon (e.g. vitamin B12) nutrient status of women, infants, and young children. In particular, we are investigating the role folic acid fortification, vitamin and mineral supplementation and colonic bacterial folate biosynthesis play on the folate status of women of reproductive age. Folate and other one carbon nutrients are critically involved in prevention of birth defects and emerging evidence suggests these nutrients also play important roles in epigenetic programming of adult disease.
Second, our research group is actively engaged in supporting human milk feeding of vulnerable infants—specifically the hospitalized infants who have unique nutritional requirements. We have been studying the clinical indications for pasteurized donor human milk when mother’s milk is unavailable and the impact of feeding nutrient-enriched mother’s own and donor milk during initial hospitalization and early after hospital discharge on the growth, body composition and development (cognitive and motor) of very low birthweight infants during the first 5 years. With our expert collaborators, we are investigatcoling the role that type of early feeding plays on the gut microbiome of the infants and how this may mediate short- and long-term health outcomes.