Behavioral Medicine; Pediatrics; Public Health and General Preventive Medicine
I am an Associate Professor in the Division of Behavioral Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, State University of New York at Buffalo. With training in preventive medicine and epidemiology & biostatistics, my research focuses on maternal and child health, smoking prevention and cessation, pediatric obesity prevention, and cardio-metabolic conditions. My current research interests include father/partner involvement in pregnancy and infant care, smoking cessation during pregnancy and postpartum, breastfeeding promotion, the developmental origins (e.g. in utero, infancy, early childhood) of health and disease, and childhood growth trajectories. I have published 71 scientific journal articles related to these topics. I have been receiving several external grants as the Principal Investigator from NIH (R21 and CTSA pilot), HRSA/MCHB (2 R40s), and New York State. In particular, with a NIH CTSA (Clinical and Translational Science Award) pilot grant, I have been conducting a clinical trial to help pregnant smokers to quit smoking in early pregnancy with follow-ups until 24 months postpartum. A high smoking abstinence rate (63%) has been achieved by our multicomponent intervention. The paper on this efficacy trial has been published by Translational Behavioral Medicine. My another paper published by International Journal of Obesity from this pilot study suggested that maternal smoking cessation during pregnancy significantly decreased risk of low birth weight. It might also reduce fetal origins of obesity through reducing infant weight gain, especially if quitting smoking by 27 weeks of pregnancy. Our preliminary data from 27 pregnant women supports the importance of partner involvement during pregnancy to improve birth outcomes. For example, women with a bed partner had a lower risk of LBW (15.8% vs 37.5%) than women without a bed partner; having a partner understanding the pregnant woman’s feeling was also associated lower risk of LBW (16.7% vs 33.3%). In addition, I have an ongoing NIH-funded R21 project on postpartum smoking relapse prevention by breastfeeding promotion. Right after delivery, we randomize ex-smoking mothers who are still smoking abstinent into either the breastfeeding intervention or the attention placebo control group, and follow them until 9 months postpartum to track their smoking status. Recently, we started a new funded project to examine how infant egg consumption (age of introduction and frequency of intake) influences physical growth, obesity, cardio-metabolic health, risk of food allergy, and cognition development in mid-childhood and adolescence.
Below are my ongoing research projects:
1) Pediatric obesity prevention by maternal smoking cessation in pregnancy and lactation (NIH CTSA Pilot grant)
2) Postpartum smoking relapse prevention by breastfeeding promotion (NIH R21 grant)
3) Snacking for Two (Impact of Changes in the Reinforcing Value of Food During Pregnancy in Smokers, Quitters, and Non-Smokers) (UB Blue Sky grant)
4) Socioeconomic disparities in early origins of childhood obesity and body mass index trajectories (HRSA – R40 grant)
5) Effects of infant egg consumption on child health and cognition development (Egg Nutrition Center grant)