Unlocking the Power of Breast Milk: How Does Breastfeeding Shape Lifelong Health?
It’s common knowledge that breastfeeding benefits both moms and babies. But Dr. Meghan Azad is unlocking the true power of breastmilk with research that shows it may protect against infant obesity, allergies, asthma and more.
As Canada Research Chair in Developmental Origins of Chronic Disease, Azad is studying how early-life exposures and experiences shape lifelong health. Her multidisciplinary team has expertise in molecular biology, epidemiology, statistics, nutrition and maternal-child health, and uses model systems, clinical cohorts and administrative databases to study the developmental origins of health and disease.
Azad and her research team are focusing on maternal nutrition, infant feeding and breast milk composition. They recently discovered a link between artificial sweetener consumption during pregnancy and infant obesity. They have also studied how maternal peanut consumption during breastfeeding may help protect infants from developing peanut allergy later in childhood.
Azad is also a researcher with the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study, a national study following 3,500 children from pregnancy through mid-childhood to help predict, prevent and treat chronic diseases. Using samples from the CHILD study, Azad and her team are exploring how the hormones, sugars and bacteria in breast milk influence infant health and development.
Their work will help inform guidelines and strategies for preventing and treating allergies, asthma and obesity in children.