A researcher at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM) has received a $1.8 million federal grant to determine the role diet plays in the higher incidence of preterm delivery among African American and Hispanic women. Preterm delivery is the leading cause of infant deaths in the United States and one of the primary contributors to long-term neurological disabilities in children. Dr. Xinhua Chen, of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at RowanSOM, is the lead investigator for the five-year study that is being funded through a grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, an agency of the National Institutes of Health.
"The incidence of preterm delivery is 60 percent higher in African American women, and 40 percent higher among Hispanic women," Dr. Chen said. "Dietary fat intake can influence the levels of free fatty acids (FFAs) in the blood, which, in turn, can alter vascular inflammation, an underlying cause of many health problems, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Our study will be the first to examine if maternal FFA-related vascular inflammation is a factor in the higher rate of preterm delivery and other pregnancy complications among minority women."