Social and behavioral determinants of infant feeding- Infant Care and Risk of Obesity Project and Mothers and Others Study
I collaborate on the Infant Care and Risk of Obesity Study, a cohort study of low-income, African American mothers and infants in North Carolina, with Drs. Linda Adair and Peggy Bentley in the Department of Nutrition at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. My work with this project examines the structural factors, maternal beliefs and practices, and infant characteristics that interact to contribute to the creation of an “obesogenic” early environment. Our findings from the Infant Care Study have informed a behavioral intervention currently underway.
Developmental microbial ecology: impacts of early environments on the development of the intestinal microbiome
This set of projects explores the development of the intestinal microbiome, the ecosystem of bacteria living in the human gut, in infancy. This research tests the hypothesis that early life environmental exposures, such as breastfeeding, the introduction of solid foods, and birth practices, contribute to the development of an altered intestinal microbiome, leading to metabolic differences and later-life obesity risk. Pilot projects are currently underway in the US, China, and Ecuador.
Environmental Change and Inflammation: Age, Cohort and Household Effects in China
This project explores the impact of social and physical environmental change on the development of inflammation, a measure of immune function and risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, in Chinese children, adolescents, and adults participating in the China Health and Nutrition Survey, a 20-year longitudinal project funded by the NIH and led by Dr. Barry Popkin. My work with this study describes the pathogenic and obesogenic risk factors for inflammation, characterizes trajectories of environmental exposures across the life course, and examines shared and distinct environmental exposures at the household level in three generations of Chinese families.