Friedman Seminar with Emily Oken
This Friedman Seminar features Emily Oken, MD, MPH, Professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, and in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, presenting “Early influences on lifelong health.”
Environmental exposures during critical periods of development including gestation and infancy can result in structural and metabolic alterations that have lasting influences on mental and physical well-being. This notion is supported by evidence from numerous animal models, human epidemiological studies, and some human intervention trials. In this talk I will address evidence for an influence of early environmental exposures on child obesity and cardiometabolic disease risk. I will also address interactions among exposures and among outcomes, as well as mechanisms by which these early exposures might act to influence child health.
Dr. Oken is a Professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, and in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Oken received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed her internship and residency in internal medicine and pediatrics.
Dr. Oken’s research focuses on the influence of nutrition and other modifiable factors during pregnancy and early childhood on long-term maternal and child health, especially cardiometabolic health and cognitive development. She has also led a number of studies examining predictors and sequelae of maternal overweight, weight gain, and related conditions such as gestational diabetes mellitus in the peripartum period. Her work on the toxicant risks and nutrient benefits of prenatal fish consumption has influenced national guidelines for fish consumption during pregnancy, helping to shift the previous focus of risk-only or benefit-only studies to a broader emphasis on the overall health effects of fish consumption for mother and baby. She has also published widely on perinatal influences on child health including asthma and atopy.