Research - Clinical Nutrition in Childhood
Nutritional Reference Data for Children
The goal of our research is to obtain better pediatric data on body composition during different phases of growth and on amino acid nutritional and functional requirements that can be used in the development of nutritional guidelines. In healthy and obese children, we are studying the dietary methionine requirement that maintains nutritional balance, and whether this nutritional requirement suffices to maintain glutathione synthesis rates, an important function of sulfur amino acids. We also aim to determine if an intake of methionine and cysteine is more efficient to support glutathione synthesis rates in healthy children, than an equimolar intake of methionine alone. We will also evaluate whether arginine supplementation in obese children improves insulin sensitivity and protein synthesis, and explore gluconeogenesis under these conditions. A unique aspect of this project is that these functional assessments of amino acid utilization will be directly coupled with an in vivo assay of body cell mass, the major component of the body’s ‘metabolic engine’. The body composition data will provide an updated contemporary reference model, similar to the CDC curves for body mass index, that include the normal variations for a general multi-ethnic US healthy pediatric population. This project will provide novel information directly useful to nutritional scientists, pediatricians, industry, and governmental agencies responsible for establishing pediatric dietary guidelines. These data will have global application and provide a strong basis for evidence-based development of nutritional recommendations for children, from infancy to adolescents.
Clinical Investigations on Nutrition and Child Development
The long-term objective of this project is to enhance understanding of the role of various nutrients during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood on fetal, postnatal, and/or childhood growth and development, and to evaluate specific strategies for improving either overall nutritional status or the status of individual nutrients at selected stages of development. Specific objectives over the next five years are: To Investigate the impact of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake from food and supplemental sources on blood levels, cognitive performance, and neurophysiological function of 4- to 12-year-old children; To investigate the pathways and nutritional modulation of methyl group production in underweight and normal weight pregnant women; To investigate differences in bowel flora, antioxidant capacity, and mitochondrial integrity between severely malnourished and well-nourished children with and without HIV infection.