New centre to tackle mums' and bubs' nutrition

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

A new national Centre of Research Excellence, launched today, will help guide the nation in improving the nutrition of mothers and babies.

The National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in Targeted Nutrition to Improve Maternal and Child Health Outcomes is an important partnership between the University of Adelaide, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), SA Health and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, where it is based.

Professor Maria Makrides, Professor of Human Nutrition in the University’s Adelaide Medical School and one of the CRE’s Chief Investigators, said good nutrition was a foundation stone of a healthy life.

“Poor nutrition has been linked to low birth weight, a greater risk of preterm birth as well as allergies and behaviour issues later in life,” says Professor Makrides, who is also the Healthy Mothers, Babies and Children Theme Leader at SAHMRI. “That’s why good nutrition is especially important in pregnancy, when both mum and baby are vulnerable.

“We’ve already made great progress in this area, for example we’ve made important strides in how we treat gestational diabetes through diet.

“In addition, by encouraging mums to take folate supplements during pregnancy, we’ve seen a 30 per cent decrease in babies born with neural tube defects. But there’s still a lot more work to be done.”

The CRE will focus on four distinct areas: increasing the awareness of how healthy eating improves birthing outcomes; investigating the role of dietary fats in preventing premature births; improving nutritional health of preterm infants; and trialling unique nutrition testing tools.

Dr Andrew McPhee, the State Director of Neonatal Services and a fellow Chief Investigator, said the Centre’s research would impact on generations to come.

“We’re very lucky in Adelaide to be able to bring together researchers across multiple institutions to improve the health and wellbeing of our youngest Australians,” Dr McPhee says.

The Centre of Research Excellence in Targeted Nutrition to Improve Maternal and Child Health Outcomes has been funded with $2.5 million from the NHMRC, awarded to Professor Makrides through the University of Adelaide.


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