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November 26, 2008

Foundation approves over $48,000 in grant funding to ULM Nursing Faculty

Two ULM pediatric nursing faculty members were recently notified of $48,622 in grant funding to provide infant nutritional education to expectant moms. ULM Professors Connie Lewis and Stacy Webb wrote the grant proposal after realizing that proper nutritional management in infancy could play a vital role in establishing a lifetime habit of health and wellness.

“A child’s weight is dependent on many factors, including the parent’s cultural practices and level of education, as well as access to healthcare,” said Professor Lewis.

Funded by the grant from the Living Well Foundation, Professors Lewis and Webb will head a project to equip expectant women with the knowledge necessary to provide appropriate nutritional intake for their young children.

“Educating and discussing with parents or parents-to-be infant feeding issues can provide them with the necessary information to address the concern of childhood obesity starting with infancy,” said Professor Lewis.

The greatest increase of overweight children over the last two decades has been seen among infants ages birth to 11.9 months, according to The American Academy of Pediatrics.

Another intent of the project is to reinforce the health benefits of breastfeeding for mother and infant, and to provide healthy alternatives for mothers who choose to feed their infant commercial formulas.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has specific recommendations for the amount of formula an infant should be fed according to his or her birth weight, current weight and age. The grant money will be used to provide education regarding recommended amounts of formula based on guidelines from The American Academy of Pediatrics.

“A lot of over feeding goes on. We’ll see parents attempting to feed rice or other solids to an infant as young as two weeks old,” said Dr. Lewis. “This early feeding is not only unnecessary, it could directly contribute to later issues with childhood obesity.”

Professor Lewis said that because she and Professor Webb both teach pediatrics, they have become increasingly aware of the rising rates of pediatric obesity and related illnesses.

“What we’re thinking is that if we can educate moms and dads before baby is born, then we might see some correlation between that education and a reduction in the rate of childhood obesity,” said Lewis.

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