Speaker: Dr. Merete Eggesbø, environmental epidemiologist at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Time: 6:00 PM CET / 12:00 PM EST on April 6, 2021
Since the mid 19th century a booming chemical industry has exposed the human population to an ever increasing load of synthetic chemicals. Of particular concern are the persistent environmental toxicants that accumulate in our bodies, and are transferred to our children during fetal life and breastfeeding. Although the levels of many toxicants have declined during the last 40 years due to the Stockholm convention, we still observe adverse effects of these old “legacy” chemicals, related to reproduction, obesity, neurodevelopment and to the immune system. In parallel, new chemicals are steadily entering the scene. One such group of particular worrisome new chemicals are the perfluorinated chemicals which can be found in water repellent material. A recent Faroese study reported that children with the highest exposure to these chemicals had increased risk of vaccine responses below a clinically protective level. Vaccinations programs prevents an estimated 2.5 million deaths worldwide annually, but a weakened immune system has implication beyond vaccine responses, increasing our susceptibility to infections and carcinogens.
Speaker: Dr. Meghan Azad, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Child Health, Community Health Sciences, and Immunology, University of Manitoba
Time: 1:00 PM EST/ 10:00 AM PST / 7:00 PM CET
The CHILD Cohort Study (www.childstudy.ca) is following 3500 Canadian families from pregnancy onwards to understand the developmental origins of chronic diseases. We have shown that breastfeeding is associated with reduced risks of childhood asthma and obesity, and these beneficial effects appear to be partly mediated by the infant gut microbiome. Current research in the Azad Lab (www.azadlab.ca) at the Manitoba Interdisciplinary Lactation Centre (www.milcresearch.com) is focused on understanding how breastfeeding practices and breast milk components (including microbes, oligosaccharides, fatty acids, hormones and cytokines) shape the developing infant microbiome and contribute to health and disease trajectories in the CHILD cohort.
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