Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Programming
Tier 2 2012, Renewed 2017
Investigating the relationship between prenatal risk factors, including poor nutrition and long term disease risk, with the goal of improving maternal and child health.
Extended exploration into perinatal nutrition will help inform new approaches to identifying, reducing and preventing trans-generational disease transmittance.
We all know our lifestyle choices impact on our health, and that overeating and inactivity contribute to our risk of obesity and other diseases like diabetes. But did you know that the prenatal environment within which you (and even your parents) develop also impacts your disease risk?
Dr. Sloboda’s research is based on fundamental knowledge that the environment in which the embryo or fetus develops influences both the immediate health and wellbeing of the child, as well as their risk of disease later in life. Poor prenatal nutrition can have long-lasting effects on an unborn child, elevating the risk of adult obesity and a host of later-life diseases, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and reproductive dysfunction.
Deborah Sloboda is investigating the complex molecular pathways and mechanisms of perinatal programming – the triggering of illnesses in adults by events that occurred during development within the womb. Combining expertise in endocrinology, physiology and molecular biology, her work is uncovering important new details on how prenatal nutrition impacts the health of offspring, and how this molecular memory can be transmitted to subsequent generations.
Her recent work investigates how gut bacteria participate in the way in which a women’s body adapts to pregnancy and whether the mother’s gut bacteria contributes to how her baby develops while in the womb. These are exciting new unexplored avenues that might lead to new ways of targeting obesity, and maybe even preventing it in the first place.
By focusing on this developmental window of vulnerability, Dr. Sloboda intends to identify ways in which we can promote a healthy start to life and develop strategies to assist and support expectant mothers in making decisions that will reduce later-life disease risks for their children and future generations.