DREAM scientists Profiled by CIHR During World Breastfeeding Week
Dr. Meghan Azad, an assistant professor in pediatrics and scientist within DREAM and DEVOTION was highlighted by CIHR for her research on the power of breast milk (http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/50478.html). Dr Azad’s lab is interested in what factors within breast milk help protect children against the risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes. Scientists within DREAM recently found that the simple act of initiating breastfeeding in the hospital lowers a child’s risk against type 2 diabetes by ~25% (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27741196). Last month her team discovered that certain h
ormones that are found in breast milk are linked to weight gain in a baby’s first year of life (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28925410). This work helped uncover novel mechanisms to potentially explain the observations that breast milk can be protective against metabolic diseases in childhood (http://chrim.ca/news/breastmilk-hormones-may-help-prevent-obesity-in-infants/). As the children in the CHILD cohort study are now 8 yrs old, Meghan and her team are now poised to examine how breast milk constituents influence childhood growth and the development of common childhood chronic diseases.
While Dr Azad digs deep into the mechanisms for why breastfeeding is powerful, Dr Brandy Wicklow, a pediatric endocrinologist and scientist in DREAM is working with Indigenous communities to develop novel strategies to promote breastfeeding to young mothers. Funded by the DEVOTION Network and now CIHR (http://webapps.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/cfdd/db_search?p_language=E&p_competition=201610PJT) this team will identify barriers and facilitators to promoting breastfeeding in a cultural context. Their team will is proposing to develop an audio/video education program for pregnant First Nations women to educate the importance and skills for breastfeeding with proper duration via local radio/TV broadcast or DVD education in collaboration with community partners. They will develop a website (accessible by smartphone) for breastfeeding education and communication platform for pregnant women and new mothers in rural or remote First Nations communities. This community-based participatory study will partner with 3 rural or remote communities in collaboration with local assistants to reduce barriers and examine the impact of smartphone-based breastfeeding educational programs on the initiation and duration of breastfeeding in the communities compared to historical controls. This work will hopefully support novel approaches to enhancing breastfeeding in rural and remote First Nations communities and potentially reduce the likelihood of metabolic diseases in children.