The Children's Nutrition Research Center is one of six USDA human nutrition research centers conducting scientific investigations designed to provide Americans with a clear understanding of the role of nutrition in maintaining a healthy, active life.

As the first federal nutrition research center to investigate the nutritional needs of pregnant and nursing women and children from conception through adolescence, the CNRC conducts research that helps define guidelines for maternal, infant and childhood nutrition.

The CNRC is operated by Baylor College of Medicine in cooperation with Texas Children's Hospital and the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The center has approximately 50 faculty members conducting nutrition-related research and a total staff of more than 200.

Since its establishment in 1978, center research has generated almost 2,000 scientific publications and continues to provide valuable information for improving the nutritional health of today's children and that of future generations.

Our unique combination of pediatricians and pediatric sub-specialists, nutrition scientists, plant physiologists, and registered dietitians make the CNRC an ideal resource for media seeking expert insight into a wide range of maternal, pediatric and general nutrition issues.

Areas of Study

Nutritional Metabolism in Mothers, Infants, and Children

This area of research seeks to define the nutritional distresses and critical windows of development that alter physical activity; understand the various factors that regulate mammary gland function in lactating mothers; and contribute to the development of nutritionally enhanced plant foods and assess their impact on human health.

credit: Adam Gillum
Pediatric Clinical Nutrition

Studies being investigated aim to enhance our understanding of the influences and role of various nutrients on fetal, postnatal, and childhood health, growth, and development as well as the etiology of obesity.

Childhood Obesity Prevention

Studies in this area involve identifying factors that influence the development of children's eating habits and how to best help children and families adopt healthier habits and, hence, avoid or lessen long-term health problems linked to poor nutrition.

Developmental Determinants of Obesity in Infants and Children

These CNRC research studies address the mechanism(s) by which an inadequate intake of dietary nutrients like folic acid, Vitamin A, protein, and cholesterol during critical periods of development exert permanent effects on development of specific organs (e.g., brain) as well as health risks (e.g., increased risk for obesity, heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis in adulthood.

Molecular, Cellular, and Regulatory Aspects of Nutrition during Development

The goal of this research is to identify strategies to optimize the nutrition and health of infants and their development as well as how dietary components help determine organ growth, development and function throughout gestation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.

Historical Context Behind the CNRC

History of Human Nutrition Research in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service: People, Events, and Accomplishments

This 13-chapter volume detailing the scientific accomplishments in human nutrition beginning with W.O. Atwater’s initial involvement within the USDA in 1894 and its critical political development to the end of the first decade of the 21st century