Clemson professor receives award to study effect of mothers' obesity, diabetes on infants

October 27, 2009

CLEMSON -- The National Institutes of Health has awarded Clemson University professor Maria Mayorga and Medical University of South Carolina professor Kelly Hunt a $735,000 grant to study the effects of a mother's obesity and diabetes on infant health in certain ethnic groups.

Mayorga, an industrial engineer, and Hunt, an epidemiologist, will team up for three years to create a novel computer simulation model that will predict the impact of obesity and diabetes during pregnancy on African-American, non-Hispanic white and Hispanic populations.

The research will focus on whether prenatal risk factors, such as obesity and diabetes, affect an infant's chance for developing these conditions later in life. If this is the case, Mayorga said obesity and diabetes not only will continue to affect all populations, but ethnic groups that are already at risk for the diseases will continue to be disproportionately affected.

"Members of the two largest minority groups in the U.S., African-American and Hispanic women, are more likely to be obese and have diabetes during pregnancy than non-Hispanic white women," said Mayorga. "Their body fat is distributed differently, their diabetes is more severe and they have a higher risk of cardiovascular problems than non-Hispanic whites. These issues of racial-ethnic differences in the intrauterine environment have been explored by a small number of researchers and, if left as is, may continue to perpetuate themselves."
This material is based upon work supported by the NIH National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities under Grant No. 1R01MD004251-01. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Institutes of Health.

Maria Mayorga
(864) 656-6919

Clemson University

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