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NHLBI Funding Announcement

Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Understanding Factors in Infancy and Early Childhood (Birth to 24 months) That Influence Obesity Development

NHLBI encourages research applications that aim to delineate behavioral, biological, psychosocial, and/or environmental factors and their potential interactions that increase or mitigate the risk of obesity from birth to 24 months. Bi-directional influences between the child, caregivers/parents, and environment are of interest. Research to address methodological research gaps in the study of obesity and obesity-related factors in infants and young children is strongly encouraged. Proposed studies should focus on topics relevant to children from birth to 24 months, although follow-up assessments, if applicable, may continue past this period. Studies that focus on typically as well as atypically developing children (e.g., those with intellectual, developmental, or physical disabilities) are appropriate.

  • Investigate patterns of weight gain and growth trajectories during infancy and early childhood that are associated with risk of development of obesity and cardiovascular disease risk factors.
  • Examine mechanisms by which early weight gain may be related to blood pressure during infancy and early childhood.
  • Elucidate the contribution of sleep deficiency (irregular sleep-wake patterns, insufficient sleep time, and poor sleep quality) during 0-24 months in infants and/or parents to the risk of obesity and obesity related pathophysiology in infants/children.
  • Assess the relationship between parental cardiovascular risk and obesity and cardiovascular risk in infancy and early childhood.
  • Examine the prevalence and impact of obesity, cardiovascular risk factors and non-cardiac morbidities in children with congenital heart disease.
  • Examine infant and early childhood feeding practices, sleep, physical activity or sedentary behaviors that may influence weight gain and risk for obesity.
  • Investigate emerging obesity risk factors, including the hormonal milieu, microbiome, and epigenetic modifications in infancy and early childhood.
  • Develop and/or validate methods to assess body composition, dietary intake/ composition, physical activity/sedentary behaviors, and sleep duration/quality/timing in infancy and early childhood.
  • Assess family and caregiver aspects that may influence weight gain, such as parenting style, responsiveness to infant/child needs, stress, and other psychosocial characteristics.
  • Examine behavioral and physiological phenotypes, such as individual differences in appetite, food preference, temperament, self-regulation and other factors related to excessive weight gain that may predict obesity development and/or treatment response in infancy and early childhood.
  • Assess the impact of food type, composition, or introduction during infancy on weight gain trajectory (e.g., high vs. low protein formula, fat composition of breast milk, timing and sequence or introduction of solid foods).
  • Develop and/or validate methods to assess infant/child behavioral factors that contribute to weight gain trajectory and obesity risk, such as appetite, temperament, learning, and other attributes.
  • Assess how environmental factors such as food insecurity and media exposure (e.g., television) may exert social influence to shape eating behavior during infancy and early childhood.
  • Examine the relationship between respiratory disease/disorders (e.g., asthma, sleep apnea) in the etiology and trajectory of obesity in infancy and early childhood.
  • Examine the role of the immune system in the development of obesity in infancy and early childhood.