Dr. Catalano's research has focused on nutrition and metabolic conditions before and during pregnancy and how those conditions affect a fetus' growth and how much body fat it gains. His research has shown that such infants born to obese mothers and mothers who have diabetes are heavier at birth and have a higher risk of developing metabolic disorders, including insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
Dr. Catalano and his team discovered that the adiposity, or body fat content, of a baby is a strong indicator of poor or malnutrition during pregnancy. They also showed that babies of obese mothers are more likely to have fetal macrosomia, also known as "big baby syndrome," a common problem among babies of pregnant diabetic women. The infants are large for their gestational age because they receive too much sugar during pregnancy from the high blood sugar levels of their mothers. The baby's pancreas senses the high sugar levels and produces more insulin in an attempt to use up all the extra sugar. That extra sugar is converted to fat, making a large baby. Dr. Catalano's team also showed that the increase in fetal size associated with maternal obesity is fat, not lean tissue.
At present, Dr. Catalano's research is focused on the effects of omega-3 fish oil supplementation on maternal-fetal inflammation and potential to affect fetal obesity.
Dr. Catalano is a highly respected administrator, teacher and mentor. In addition to numerous honors over the past 35 years, Dr. Catalano was president of the Perinatal Research Society as well as chair of the American Diabetes Association's Pregnancy and Women's Health Council and is currently co-chair of the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development Scientific Vision Group on Pregnancy. Dr. Catalano's research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health for more than 25 years and he has written or co-authored more than 140 research articles.
|Contact: Elizabeth Lynch|
March of Dimes Foundation