Thrasher Research Fund - Medical research grants to improve the lives of children

Project Details

Early Career

Status: Funded - Open

Effect of maternal supplementation from preconception to lactation on child growth and development

Jo-Anna Baxter, PhD


BACKGROUND: Optimal nutrition from the start of life lays the foundation for future health and human capital attainment. Exclusively feeding infants human milk (HM) for the first 6-months is universally recommended, as HM provides readily bioavailable and digestible nutrients uniquely suited to infants’ requirements; however, in areas with high micronutrient deficiencies and malnutrition, emerging evidence suggests HM micronutrient composition can vary with maternal micronutrient status and the implications for child development are unknown. GAP: The associations between HM micronutrient levels in infancy and later child development are under studied, thus whether maternal multiple micronutrient supplementation (MMS) through to lactation is associated with improved child neurodevelopment and growth warrants investigation. HYPOTHESIS: We hypothesize that infants born to mothers who experience high levels of micronutrient deficiencies and were randomized to receive MMS from preconception through to lactation will have improved neurodevelopment and growth at 4 years of age compared to those who received the standard of care (i.e., no MMS). METHODS: In a follow up substudy to a randomized control trial of maternal MMS and HM composition, we will approach children (n=186) to investigate whether there are any differences in neurodevelopmental outcomes and growth at 4 years of age. Study participants live in rural Pakistan, where maternal micronutrient deficiencies and chronic malnutrition in childhood are high. RESULTS: Pending. IMPACT: Current global guidelines focus on addressing maternal micronutrient deficiencies prenatally and infant micronutrient deficiencies between 6-23 months postpartum, but the first 6-months postpartum remains unexplored. Our findings are anticipated to lead to the re-examination of early life micronutrient interventions, while supporting exclusive HM feeding, and could inform the expansion of strategies used to address infant micronutrient needs in the critical early life period.

Supervising Institution:
University of Toronto

Deborah O'Connor

Project Location:
Canada, Pakistan

Award Amount: