Thursday, April 30, 2015

FWS Research Assistant Highlights: Luisa Villatoro

This semester I began to work with Dr. Gaffney and other scholars on a maternal-child equity study. On a weekly basis I attend Inova Cares Clinic for Children and conduct interviews, while I also have the opportunity to shadow doctors and nurses. My job entails checking if the patient is eligible for the study, going over consent forms, administering the survey, and helping improve the survey. The purpose of this study is to assess the risk factors that cause obesity in Latino infants. The possible risk factors that are being assessed include: feeding practices, mother’s wellbeing, food insecurity, infant physical activity, and amount of sleep the mother and the baby receive.

As I have been working on this project I’ve learned many new things. Something very interesting that I learned this week, pertaining to the research, is that when an infant crosses two or more growth centiles during the first 6 months of his or her life the baby is more likely to become obese by the age of three. This problem hasn’t been assessed in the Latino infants yet, and it is a problem that I have personally observed in the Latino community. It’s important to note what risk factors cause obesity in babies, so mothers know how they can raise healthy babies. If we start promoting a healthier lifestyle at a young age, future generations will become healthier.  

Before I began helping with this research project, I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare field, but I still wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to become. Being able to work on this study, being at the clinic, and watching nurses and doctors on the job helped me decide what I wanted to do. I now dream of becoming a nurse practitioner and I hope to continue conducting health-related research involving the Latino community in my future.