An unanticipated consequence of the Pandemic lockdown has been a potential reduction in preterm birth rates. This trend has been observed across Canada and in many countries around the world. Dr. Merilee Brockway and Dr. Meghan Azad, along with Dr. David Burgner out of Australia, are building a large international collaboration of researchers and clinicians who are going to look at this trend more carefully. Both Merilee and Meghan spoke with reporters from CTV news and the Globe and Mail to discuss this important research study and the potential impact this research could have on maternity care in the future.
The Pandemic has posed many challenges for mothers who want to breastfeed but need support to do so. Lactation consultants and mothers are taking to virtual visits, but the lack of physical contact makes it difficult to assess and assist the mother and baby. Web based forums are still available for support but can't replace the one-on-one interaction. Azad Lab postdoctoral fellow Dr. Merilee Brockway, a trained lactation consultant, spoke to Vogue magazine about these issues.
August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week. Dr. Meghan Azad joined CTV news to bring awareness to the importance of breastfeeding. UNICEF and the World Health Organization are encouraging governments to support breastfeeding counselling. The latest research shows that the majority of Canadian mothers who chose to breastfeed, stop before they really want to. Dr. Azad explains further in her interview and discusses the new Manitoba Interdisciplinary Lactation Centre (MILC).
Dr. Shreyas Khumbare was awarded a two-year Molly Towel Perinatal Research Foundation Fellowship to study the effect of human-derived human milk fortifiers on gut microbiota development and oxidative stress in premature infants. Only two fellowships were awarded across Canada. The goal of the Molly Towell Perinatal Research Foundation is to encourage perinatal research in Canada by supporting original and innovative research in fetal or neonatal medicine. Congratulations, Shreyas!
New Azad Lab research published in Cell Host & Microbe: co-occurence of bacteria in mothers' milk and the infant gut
In this collaboration with Stuart Turvey & Brett Finlay at the University of British Columbia, we linked microbiome data from mothers' breast milk and infants' stool in the CHILD Cohort Study. The analyses were led by Azad Lab analyst Kelsey Fehr and PhD student Shirin Moossavi, along with UBC trainees Roz Boutin & Hind Sbihi. We found associations between gut microbiota composition and breastmilk feeding practices (exclusivity, duration, and pumping) and breastmilk microbiota. We also found that some bacteria were shared within mother-infant dyads, suggesting bacteria in breastmilk may transfer to the infant and influence the developing gut microbiota. Read the full paper, check out the Tweetorial or read the press release.
A $1.7 million award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Research Manitoba will allow CHILD researchers to study how individuals and families across Canada have been impacted directly by COVID-19 infection and indirectly by pandemic-related social and economic upheaval. Funding was announced today by the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Minister of Health, as part of a $109-million investment by CIHR and provincial partners to mobilize science to fight COVID-19. Research Manitoba contributed $100,000 to the $1.7-million CHILD award. Read the press release. (Artwork courtesy of CHILD participants.)
The CHILD Cohort Study released a new video featuring our research on breast milk and breastfeeding - including evidence that breastfed infants have higher levels of beneficial gut bacteria, healthier growth patterns, and lower rates of wheezing and asthma. Our research shows that HOW a baby is breastfed matters too – meaning, there is a difference between feeding directly from the breast and feeding pumped breastmilk from a bottle. And just like fingerprints, breastmilk is unique to each mom and baby. Watch the video to find out how these discoveries are helping parents, health professionals and communities to understand the role of breastmilk in child health and development, toward ensuring that all babies grow up healthy, however they are fed.
We are extremely proud to announce that our very own Sarah Turner has been named a 2020 Vanier Scholar! Sarah is one of 5 University of Manitoba recipients this year. Her doctoral research will explore the link between breastfeeding and child behaviour in the CHILD Cohort Study. The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, valued at $150,000 over 3 years, recognize Canada's top graudate students on the basis of academic excellence, research potential and leadership. Congratulations Sarah!
Fungi constitute an important yet frequently neglected component of the human microbiota with a possible role in health and disease. In this study, led by Azad Lab PhD student Dr. Shirin Moossavi, we analyzed fungi in breast milk from mothers in the CHILD study. Results were published this week in BMC Microbiology.
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