N4 Nutrition

Preterm infants are at high risk of malnutrition, even in modern neonatal intensive care units. Very low birth weight infants (< 1500 g) are at high risk of general malnutrition (protein, energy, micronutrients). Late preterm infants and term infants with marginally low birth weight (2000-2500 g) have high risk of iron deficiency. Our research on preterm infants has resulted in improved clinical care.

Nutrition is essential for growth and development throughout childhood, but deficiencies of macronutrients and micronutrients are still common in certain populations (e.g. socioeconomically disadvantaged) and risk groups (e.g. preterm or low birth weight infants). We have used iron as a model nutrient in order to identify the nutritional and metabolic pathways linking nutrition and brain development in infants.

The N4 Research Group has a focus on pediatric nutrition research and the research has had significant impact on clinical practice and child health in Sweden, Europe and the USA.

NIron Research

Iron is an essential nutrient which is required for oxygen transport and energy metabolism in many organs, not least the brain. However, iron is also a potent pro-oxidant which may increase the risk of infections and inflammatory disorders and affect the gut microbiome.

We have used iron as a model nutrient in order to identify the nutritional and metabolic pathways linking nutrition and brain development in infants.

In addition to studying the clinical effects of iron in intervention studies, we are also using our research lab to explore novel markers of iron metabolism in children, such as hepcidin and erythroferrone.


The N4 Iron Group

Researchers
  • Magnus Domellöf
  • Staffan Berglund*
  • Anna Chmielewska
  • Olle Hernell

* PhD students who have graduated in the project.

PhD Students
  • Stina Alm
  • Maria Björmsjö
External Researchers
  • Ola Andersson, Lund*
  • Bo Lönnedal, UC Davis
  • Mikael Norman, Karolinska Institutet
  • Lena Westas, Uppsala
  • Björn Westrup, Karolinska Institutet

Preterm

Preterm infants are at high risk of malnutrition, even in modern neonatal intensive care units. Very low birth weight infants (< 1500 g) are at high risk of general malnutrition (protein, energy, micronutrients). Late preterm infants and term infants with marginally low birth weight (2000-2500 g) have high risk of iron deficiency. Our research on preterm infants has resulted in improved clinical care.

The N4 Preterm Team!

Researchers
  • Magnus Domellöf
  • Elisabeth Stoltz Sjöström*
  • Staffan Berglund
  • Anna Chmielewska
  • Inger Öhlund
  • Aijaz Farooqi
  • Erik Domellöf
  • Itay Zamir*
  • Susanna Klevebro*
  • Pia Lundgren*
  • Cornelia Späth*
  • Vera Westin*

*PhD students who have graduated in the project.

PhD Students
  • Stina Alm
External Researchers
  • Thomas Abrahamsson (Linköping)
  • Ann Hellström (Göteborg)
  • Mikael Norman (KI)
  • Fredrik Serenius (Uppsala)

NNeurodevelopment Research

Cognitive problems (e.g. learning disorders, developmental delay) or behavioural disorders (including ADHD and autism spectrum disorders) affect approximately 20% of children. The pathogenesis of these disorders is not clear but it is of great public health interest to identify environmental or lifestyle factors that can reduce the risk of cognitive and behavioural disorders in children. Preventing nutritional deficiencies may be an important factor in this context. The brain is the fastest growing organ from the third trimester of pregnancy up to 3 years of life, when it has reached 85% of the adult size. Nutrition during the fetal period and the first two years of life (the first 1000 days) is critical for normal brain development during the very sensitive stages of neural proliferation, migration, myelination and synapse formation. Our research focus is to find associations between early nutritional and other environmental factors on brain growth and development during pregnancy/gestation and the first years of life, and to find effective interventions for preventing cognitive and behavioral problems in children.

The N4 Research Group has a large focus on pediatric nutrition research and the research has had significant impact on clinical practice and child health in Sweden, Europe and the USA.

The N4 Brain Trust

Researchers

  • Magnus Domellöf
  • Staffan Berglund*
  • Niklas Timby*
  • Elisabeth Stoltz Sjöström*
  • Josefine Starnberg*
  • Anna Chmielewska
  • Olle Hernell
  • Erik Domellöf
  • Helena Lindgren
  • Cornelia Späth*
  • Itay Zamir*

* PhD students who have graduated in the project.

PhD Students

  • Tove Grip

External Researchers

  • Ola Andersson, Lund*
  • Helena Filipsson, Göteborg
  • Bo Lönnerdal, UC Davis
  • Lena Westas, Uppsala

N4 Breast Milk and Infant Formula

Breast milk is the optimal food for young infants and is associated to improved neurodevelopment and reduced risk of infections. Still, a small proportion of infants (about 10% in Sweden) are not able to breast-feed and infant formula has been developed to cover the nutritional needs for these infants. Breast-milk contains a large number of bioactive components which are not present in infant formula.

An important aim for the N4 Research Group is to identify bioactive components that may be added to infant formula in order to achieve health outcomes similar to breast-fed infants. We have recently shown in the TUMME study that addition of milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) to infant formula improves cognitive development and reduces the risk of infections in infants. This is now further pursued in a follow-up study (TUMME UPP).

The ATLAS study is an international multicentre study aiming to characterize important bioactive components in breast milk (e.g. human milk oligosaccharides) and to investigate possible associations between maternal diet and breast milk composition.

N-FORTE is a randomized, controlled trial, where we are testing whether a human milk based fortifier (vs. a regular cow’s milk based fortifier) reduces the risk of NEC, sepsis and death in extremelty preterm infants

Research Projects