Maternal and Child Nutrition, and Population-Level Food Insecurity

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Principal Investigator: Gail Harrison

Work during the 1980s and 1990s, utilizing longitudinal analyses of communities in which mild-to moderate malnutrition was prevalent, set to rest the “small by healthy” hypothesis of Amartya Sen which postulated that growth retardation by itself indicated no functional consequence. We studied several populations in which mild-to-moderate malnutrition was prevalent, and demonstrated deficits in reproductive, immunological, morbidity and other functions. Micronutrient deficiencies were most to blame. Since then I have investigated micronutrient deficiencies in Iran--particularly riboflavin deficiency, which is highly prevalent but understudied—as a cause of the 40% of night-blindness that is vitamin A-resistant. As well, I have investigated dietary adequacy and nutritional status among Emirati children (indigenous Emirati as opposed to the total population) in UAE. My current work involves mostly domestic MCH nutrition and impacts of food insecurity on health outcomes in the US.