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Improving Fetal Growth Rates in Developing Countries

Laura Woollett of the University of Cincinnati in the U.S., in collaboration with the MRC International Nutrition Group in The Gambia, will test whether increasing plasma cholesterol in pregnant mothers from developing countries can improve fetal growth rates and reduce the associated risk of mortality and developmental defects. They hypothesized that the high incidence of low birth weight in developing countries is caused by lower levels of cholesterol in pregnant women. In Phase I, they discovered a correlation between HDL-cholesterol levels measured mid-gestation and infant birth weight in a group of women from The Gambia, and showed that supplementation of cholesterol in malnourished mice could increase birth weight. In Phase II, they will further study the connection between cholesterol levels and fetal growth by analyzing more pregnant women, including those from additional countries.

More information about Explore Nutrition for Healthy Growth of Infants and Children (Round 8)

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is part of the Grand Challenges partnership network. Visit www.grandchallenges.org to view the map of awarded grants across this network and grant opportunities from partners.