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Research Project: Integrating Community Nutrition with Improved Pregnancy Outcomes

Location: Responsive Agricultural Food Systems Research

Project Number: 3091-51530-001-003-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2022
End Date: Jul 31, 2026

Objective:
A strong scientific consensus exist that additional research is needed that is increasingly focused on enhancing pregnancy and early childhood outcomes across all population groups. This starts with innovative approaches with the goal of improving pregnancy outcomes and address the life-long diseases that result from poor nutrition and lifestyle in the critical period of pregnancy/gestation and early life. The goal of this focused research is to bring together partnerships with industries in the food, agriculture, technology, and health care fields that encourage the growth of new Texas industries while improving the health and lifestyles of the mother and child.

Approach:
To better align production agricultural systems with human, environmental, and economic health outcomes, researchers will conduct scientific studies that aim to better understand how maternal diets during pregnancy and lactation impact lifelong maternal and child health, a major health concern in Texas. This research will provide new Texas-specific information about pregnancy, lactation, and young child diet-nutrition and related behaviors. Findings will be used to improve birth outcomes and help children get off to the best start in life; and will serve as a national model with the potential for national impact. Research will be undertaken that evaluates the physiological and behavioral-psychological underpinnings of improved health and avoidance of overeating. Research will be conducted that evaluates the intersection of agricultural/food-systems/consumers and looks for new avenues for development of healthier consumer products that will benefit the overall health of Texas citizens. By conducting studies that are physiological-behavioral in approach, researchers will be able identify new means to combat maternal obesity, diabetes, anemia and other related chronic diseases that are influenced by one’s dietary behavior. This research will revolutionize our understanding of the role that maternal diet has on programming the fetal genome including metabolism, immunity, and other key biological networks with life-long consequences; will fill major data gaps with respect to establishing maternal dietary guidance pre-pregnancy as well as during pregnancy and lactation; and will advance national efforts to improve the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans.