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Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of TampereFaculty of Social Sciences

Research group of Professor Suvi Virtanen

Field of studies: Nutrition and growth in the development of type 1 diabetes, allergic diseases, asthma and obesity in childhood

Principal researcher: Professor Suvi M. Virtanen

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Brief description: The work of the research group consists of studies examining the roles of child’s diet, nutritional status and growth and mother’s nutrition during pregnancy and lactation on the progression from genetic disease susceptibility to development of beta-cell autoimmunity and further type 1 diabetes during childhood. We also examine the impact of nutrition and growth on the development of allergic diseases and obesity in children and conduct methodological and descriptive research on childhood nutrition. We have made pilot studies on Finnish maternal and child welfare clinics to study the implementation of research results in practice. The most important studies are the Diabetes Prediction and Prevention (DIPP) Nutrition Study, the Nutrition parts of the international TRIGR study, the TEDDY study, EDIA study and HYPE study.

DIPP – The Diabetes Prediction and Prevention Nutrition Study

The DIPP Nutrition Study, started in 1996, is carried out in collaboration with the National Institute for Health and Welfare, School of Health Sciences at University of Tampere and the University Hospitals of Oulu and Tampere. It is a prospective birth cohort study, where the objective is to investigate whether the diet during prenatal period and during the first six years of life, is associated with the development of type 1 diabetes-related autoantibodies, clinical type 1 diabetes, childhood allergies and asthma and childhood obesity. The study is based on dietary data of pregnant and lactating mothers and their children. The children who have been invited to the study have genetically increased risk for type 1 diabetes.

TRIGR - The Trial to Reduce IDDM in Genetically at Risk

The TRIGR study, started in 2002, is an international, randomised, double-blinded trial, designed to determine whether the risk of developing type 1 diabetes can be reduced by replacing conventional cow’s milk based infant formula with hydrolysed infant formula. Subjects of the study consist of newborn babies genetically at risk of type 1 diabetes and who have a parent or biological sibling diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The trial is carried out in 15 countries, including 12 European countries, the United States, Canada and Australia. The International Coordinating Centre of the trial is located at the Clinicum Unit of University of Helsinki and the TRIGR Nutritional Epidemiology Unit is situated at the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare. Professor Suvi Virtanen is Chair of the TRIGR Nutritional Intervention Committee and a member of the TRIGR International Executive Committee.

TEDDY - The Environmental Determinants of Type 1 Diabetes in the Young

The TEDDY study, started in 2004, is an international birth cohort study focusing on environmental factors and their possible associations with the development of type 1 diabetes. The research is carried out in four countries: Finland, Sweden, Germany and the United States. The children studied have a genetically increased risk for type 1 diabetes. Professor Suvi Virtanen is Chair of the TEDDY Diet Committee together with Professor Jill Norris from the United States (Denver, Colorado).

EDIA – Early Dietary Intervention and Later Signs of Beta-Cell Autoimmunity

The EDIA study, started in 2013, is a randomised, double-blinded trial, which is carried out in Tampere, Finland. There is some earlier scientific evidence that weaning to an extensively hydrolysed casein formula decreases the risk of developing type 1 diabetes, compared to a weaning to a regular cow’s milk based formula, in children who have genetically increased risk for type 1 diabetes. The EDIA study aims at exploring possible mechanisms mediating the protective effect of an extensively hydrolysed casein formula. Subjects of the study consist of newborn babies genetically at risk of type 1 diabetes. Professor Suvi Virtanen is responsible for the nutrition part of the study.

HYPE – Hyvinvointia Perheille (Family Welfare)

In Family Welfare (HYPE) study, internet and mobile-based applications are developed and tested to support lifestyle counselling at maternity welfare clinics. The aim of the study is to improve healthy lifestyle and overall welfare of the families expecting a child to be born, and to develop tools in order to facilitate the work of public health nurses at the maternity clinics. In order to get user experiences of the applications, the pilot study was conducted in years 2013-2015 at maternity clinics in the city of Vantaa, Finland.

Links to research project home pages:

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Last update: 16.12.2015 15.22 Muokkaa

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