Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center
Adjunct Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Ph.D., University of Nevada Las Vegas
M.S., Osmania University, Hyderabad, India
B.S., Osmania University, Hyderabad, India
Maternal factors (i.e., diet, environment, stress, and obesity), mode of delivery, and postnatal factors (i.e., human milk versus formula, early life stress, and antibiotics) affect infants’ growth and development. All these factors likely shape infants’ gut microbiota, metabolism, neurodevelopment, immune system, and long-term health. The microbial species transmitted from mother to newborn are influenced by placental transfer, mode of delivery, mother’s gestational age, health status, and diet. Besides the maternal factors influencing the gut microbial colonization, several other postnatal factors such as neonatal diet in the intestine, environmental exposure to bacteria, and antibiotics use affect the gut microbial communities. Breastfeeding or infant formula feeding also differentially enrich microbial communities’ colonization into the neonatal gut and likely impact the immune system. All these factors together influence the infants’ gut early microbial colonization and maturation until the age of two to three when intestinal microbiota profile stabilizes into an adult-like gut microbiota. The overarching goals of our current project are to: 1) determine the mechanism of how prenatal factors and early diet affects development and function of key physiological systems (e.g., metabolism, gut physiology, liver, lungs, brain, kidney, and immune system), 2) understand host-gut microbiota cross-talk and 3) unveil functions of milk bioactives, with and without microbiota. We leverage clinical, animal (i.e., piglet and mouse) and cell culture studies to address our research questions.