The research lab of Sarah A. Keim, PhD, conducts epidemiologic and clinical research focusing on prenatal and early childhood influences on child growth and development in the critical first six years of life, and even the time during pregnancy, when the foundation for a lifetime of health is laid.
We focus primarily on one critical influence during this time period – good nutrition. Animal studies tell us that proper nutrition early in life is critical for healthy development and prevention of chronic disease in adulthood, but the evidence based on studies of humans is still lacking in many ways.
We conduct research into how and what families feed infants as well as the changing nature of breastfeeding in contemporary society. Much of our work focuses on a special group of children – those who are born prematurely.
Several studies have documented the potential life-long challenges that premature babies face in many areas including development and behavior. It is clear that early interventions are important to help children who experience developmental or behavioral challenges. However, many early interventions start too late – when a child is ready for school; and most research involving premature babies is focused on the time when they are patients in the NICU.
Our work fills the gap in-between – we want to know whether certain dietary interventions can help these children develop as normally as possible and head off behavior issues before they become a problem in school. We involve children who are 1-6 years old in our studies – a time when so many skills and abilities are emerging, yet it is also a time when many developmental disabilities and behavior problems are noticed.
>> To learn more or inquire about job opportunities, contact Kelly Boone at Kelly.Boone@NationwideChildrens.org.