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Posted Monday, July 4, 2022Cathy Majtenyi
Brock Assistant Professor of Psychology Charlis Raineki is co-leading an international research team studying how Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder affects children’s immune function and micro-organisms in the gut microbiota.
New Brock University-led research is exploring the role gut health plays in the mental health of youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
Brock Assistant Professor of Psychology Charlis Raineki and Research Associate Tamara Bodnar from the University of British Columbia are leading an international research team studying how FASD affects children’s immune function and micro-organisms in the digestive track, or ‘gut microbiota.’
Supporting the team’s work is a three-year, $450,000 grant from the Azrieli Foundation’s Science Grants Program 2021 Competition.
“The overall goal of this research is to improve lives,” says Raineki, noting that the estimated prevalence of FASD in North America is around five per cent.
“About 90 per cent of those with FASD will show some type of mental health problem at some point in their life,” he says. “That is a huge portion of the population that has a higher vulnerability to mental health problems, which is not being addressed.”
Healthy gut microbiota — the collection of micro-organisms, including bacteria, that inhabit the gut — promote health in a wide variety of ways, such as regulating weight gain, fostering ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and triglycerides for heart health, impacting how the body responds to infections, and modulating complex behaviours, including anxiety, depression and social behaviour.
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