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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Johns Hopkins: Faculty Awarded Grant to Study Prelacteals’ Impact on Neonatal Microbiome

Dr. Alain Labrique of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Dr. Meghan Azad of the University of Manitoba received a grant awarded through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “Call-to-Action” to participants of the 2018 Grand Challenges meeting in Berlin, Germany. Building on Drs. Labrique and Azad’s prior work in Bangladesh and Canada, respectively, the study will assess whether prelacteals affect the populations of bacteria in the newborn gut (the microbiome), a first step to understanding how this may affect development and survival. Prelacteals are foods given to newborns before they are first breastfed or early in life.

For their study, the researchers will use a longstanding population research site in rural Bangladesh, ( and compare the types and amounts of bacteria in the gut using stool samples from 300 prelacteal-fed or exclusively breastfed infants at 7 days, 28 days and 3 months of life. The study will enable them to quantify the potentially negative impact of feeding newborns prelacteals. This widespread practice is common to over a billion people across the Gangetic floodplain in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

Grand Challenges is a family of initiatives of the Gates Foundation fostering innovation to solve key global health and development problems. “Prelacteals: A Source of Infection and Microbiome Disruption?” will help foster a new collaboration that links cutting-edge population research and state-of-the-art laboratory science, the results of which could lead to important future policy implications.

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