The Mums & Meals Study

Our Vision

Our vision is that all women have consistent access to healthy food in pregnancy, to help give children the best possible start in life.

Why is this important

Nutrition during pregnancy can impact short- and long-term health for women and their children.

When families are struggling to make ends meet, this can lead to food insecurity. This is when households are having trouble putting food on the table or are worried about running out of food before they can afford to buy more. It can be very stressful and may change the types and amounts of food eaten by people in the household. These experiences can have significant effects on physical and mental health.

Dietary intake, along with other social and environmental factors, can also influence the gut microbiome–the community of microbes in the gut, including gut bacteria. The gut microbiome can interact with many organs and body systems, such as the brain and the immune system. It plays an important role in their development in early life.

More research is needed to understand the extent and impacts of food insecurity among pregnant women in Australia, and how struggling to make ends meet relates to gut health.

How we are going to do the research

This project will be completed in two phases.

Phase 1: Survey

We are inviting pregnant women to complete a survey about access to food (food security status) and diet quality.

Phase 2: Stool sample collections

A subset of participants from Phase 1 will donate stool (poo) samples so we can explore how social, economic, and dietary factors relate to differences in the gut microbiome in pregnant women and their babies.

What are we hoping to find?

This research will help us understand the dietary and health impacts of food insecurity in pregnancy, and how families could be better supported. It will also increase knowledge about how socioeconomic factors influence gut health in pregnancy and early life, which could help to identify novel intervention opportunities with potentially long-lasting health benefits for mums and bubs.

Chief Investigators