Child Diet and Health Disparities Research Lab

Our research lab is interested in nutrition during the critical periods of development, from pregnancy to childhood. We work predominately with vulnerable populations including those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) as well as racial/ethnic minorities.

Research Projects

  • Breast-fed infants are susceptible to vitamin D deficiency because breast milk contains insufficient amounts. Hence, public health guidelines suggest infant vitamin D supplementation to begin at birth yet, only 1/3 of US infants meet this recommendation. Our most recent work in this area explores adherence with current infant vitamin D policies and requirements among infants participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).  We are also exploring predictors and health outcomes associated with maternal vitamin D status from the National Children’s Study, a longitudinal study of >5,000 US women followed from pregnancy.

    Funding:  Georgia CTSA NIH award (UL1-TR002378)

  • Errors in dietary assessment limit the ability to assess to detect true diet-diseases associations. Children are unique in dietary assessment due to developmental and cognitive immaturity.  Our work focuses on improving the accuracy of dietary recalls among elementary school-aged children, through exploring the effects of age, body mass index and race/ethnicity. We are piloting testing this project in a local school and summer camp. This is important work as these projects will advance our understanding of children’s dietary assessment and alter methods used by national surveys and researchers.

    Funding: Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Foundation

  • Georgia ranks #2 and #8 respectively for highest maternal and infant mortality rate nationally, and #4 for highest low birth weight (LBW; babies born weighing <2,500 grams). LBW infants are more likely to die during the first year of life and to develop health problems such as infections, than normal-weight infants. Research also suggests LBW infants have an increased risk of chronic conditions in adulthood. Black/African Americans in rural Georgia have ~1.5-4-fold increased risk of a LBW birth as compared to the state average. Receiving proper nutrition before, during and after pregnancy can also improve both mother and offspring health. We are gathering in-depth insights into the gaps in prenatal nutrition education as well lactation support in rural Georgia. This will help inform future community intervention/s which may include the development of new programming to serve the rural target population.

    Funding: Rural Engagement Workshop Seed Grant

Meet the Staff

Lab Overview

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