New dietary app for pregnancy to support child development and behaviour

Dr Dawson, from Deakin’s Food & Mood Centre, has led a team to develop the ‘Bugs & Bumps’ app which aims to support diet and gut health in pregnancy, to ultimately help child mental health.

‘We are testing whether the app improves diet during pregnancy, and if it changes the gut bugs in pregnancy and infancy,’ Dr Dawson says.

‘This grant allows us to go a step further and evaluate the impact of diet in pregnancy on child emotional behaviour at 18 months and investigate the protective biological pathways supporting child mental health and quality of life.’

The randomised control trial received $930,000 in MRFF funds.

The Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission is investing $125 million over 10 years in innovative mental health research, supporting research to improve mental health by translating evidence into practice.

More than 3.8 million Australians aged between 16 and 85 experience a mental illness each year.

Assistant Minister McBride says the ten successful projects will unearth a strong evidence base and trial new approaches to achieve better mental health and suicide prevention.

‘With two in five adults experiencing a mental illness during their lifetime, we need high-quality research to help us better understand what causes or contributes to mental ill-health, psychological distress and suicide, and how we can better prevent, detect, diagnose and importantly care for Australians,’ Assistant Minister McBride says.

About Dr Samantha Dawson

Dr Samantha Dawson is an Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Food & Mood Centre.

  • Leads a body of research on how prenatal nutrition influences the gut microbiome and mental health outcomes in pregnancy and infancy.
  • Designed the Bugs & Bumps prenatal dietary intervention.
  • Leads a diet-focused topic of research within the Pregnancy Research and Translation Ecosystem, which is a platform for co-design with pregnancy care stakeholders.
  • Principal investigator on the ‘Healthy Parents, Healthy Kids’ randomised control trial of a gut-focused prenatal dietary intervention.