Nutrition during pregnancy. Be part of change.

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is South Australia’s largest independent not-for-profit research institute. SAHMRI’s Women and Kids Theme is dedicated to improving the health of women, children, and families through world class research. The team has conducted a wealth of research in nutrition – particularly about how a mother’s diet relates to their baby’s development and the prevention of preterm birth.

Dr Karen Best and Dr Merryn Netting, two of SAHMRI Women and Kids Theme Senior Researchers share some of their work with us.

Iodine in Pregnancy

Pregnancy creates extra demand for certain nutrients to support the growth and development of baby. Dr Best’s research focuses on finding the right balance of these nutrients. The PoppiE study is a national clinical trial investigating the ideal amount of iodine needed during pregnancy for baby’s development.

Research has shown that not getting enough iodine during pregnancy may lead to lower developmental scores in young children, but recent studies suggest that consuming too much iodine may have a similar effect. Women who get enough iodine from the food they eat may not need the amount of iodine added to common prenatal supplements.

The PoppiE Study is inviting women less than 13 weeks pregnant who already have an adequate iodine intake from the food they eat, to help discover which amount of iodine is best for baby’s development. This will be determined by a validated ‘Iodine Food Frequency Questionnaire’ available through the QR Code below.

Scan to find out more about the PoppiE study

Omega-3 supplementation to reduce the risk of preterm birth

Following many years of research by the SAHMRI Women and Kids team, we now know that women with low omega-3 levels in their blood have a higher risk of having a preterm baby. We also know that this risk can be reduced by taking omega-3 supplements.

Over 5000 women have taken advantage of the free omega-3 testing for pregnant women in South Australia which also offers tailored advice about omega-3 supplements to reduce the risk of early birth. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor or midwife about the omega-3 test available now.

Scan to find out more about the Omega3 study

Preventing allergies

Dr Netting focuses on another aspect of nutrition during pregnancy – understanding the relationship between a mother’s diet and how this influences the child’s food allergy development. 1 in 10 children will develop a food allergy and babies born into a family with a history of allergic disease have a higher risk of developing allergies.

Previous research has shown that introducing common allergy causing foods, like egg and peanut butter, in the diet of babies soon after they start eating solid foods can help to reduce food allergies developing. However, evidence suggests that the ideal time to prevent food allergy may be during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but not enough is known about this yet.

This research inspired the PrEggNut Study, a clinical trial looking to determine whether mothers regularly eating more eggs and peanuts during pregnancy and breastfeeding will reduce food allergies in their babies. Participants will be randomly allocated into either a moderate or high egg and peanut diet to follow from 23 weeks gestation up until the baby is 4 months of age. A skin prick allergy test will be completed on baby when they are 12 months old to determine any food allergy development.

Scan to find out more about the PrEggNut Study


For further information on these studies, please scan the QR Codes or contact:


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