Recruits will come from Salisbury Pediatrics
By Emily Ford
A scientist at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis has partnered with one of the largest medical practices in Salisbury in an effort to improve children’s nutrition.
Starting this week, parents who take their 15-month-olds to Salisbury Pediatric Associates will have the option of joining a research study to see if omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed oil can make babies smarter.
The study’s four visits, which last an hour and pay $20 each, would begin when the child turns 16 months old.
“Salisbury Pediatrics has become a great champion of my research,” said Dr. Carol Cheatham, a child psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of North Carolina’s Nutrition Research Institute in Kannapolis.
Dr. Chris Magryta, a pediatrician, said he jumped at the chance to collaborate with Cheatham.
“Research of this type is the answer to the future,” Magryta said.
Changing the way people eat, starting with children, will lower disease rates and the need for many medications, he said.
“Eventually, we will draw a patient’s blood and the lab will tell us their genetic profile, and we will tailor their diet to avoid disease,” he said.
Cheatham and other scientists at the UNC Nutrition Research Institute want to know why people are nutritionally different from one another. Some universities at the Research Campus are working to develop fruits and vegetables that pack a bigger nutritional punch, while other researchers are focusing on personalized medicine.
Magryta would like his practice, with an ethnically diverse patient roster including 20,000 active charts, to become involved in as much research as possible.
“Hopefully, this is the beginning of many collaborations with ourselves and the research park down there,” he said.
Cheatham needs 100 16-month-olds for her current study. So far, she has six.
When a parent calls to schedule a check-up for a 15-month-old, staff will ask if the parent is willing to come on a specific day. Parents not interested in the study or unable to come on the suggested day will schedule their appointments as usual.
“The patient always comes first,” Magryta said.
Cheatham’s researchers will come to Salisbury Pediatrics at least once a month, when the practice has several 15-month-olds scheduled.
After the child’s physical, scientists will meet with parents who have expressed an interest in learning more about the study.
The most invasive part of the research is a finger stick during the first and third visits.
Cheatham will have a mini-laboratory in the Salisbury office, where researchers can enroll children, meet with parents and conduct the research, which involves observing children play with unique toys before and after they have added omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed oil to their diets.
Cheatham begins recruiting at Salisbury Pediatrics on Friday.
“This is one of the better partnerships that I’ve undertaken so far,” she said.
Her future studies will call for children from infancy to age 6, or older.
Both CMC-Northeast and Rowan Regional Medical Center soon will start sending information about her research home with new mothers, Cheatham said.