Two epidemiological PhD projects on environmental chemicals, breastfeeding, and child gut microbiota

Declaration of interest regarding two epidemiological PhD projects on environmental chemicals, breastfeeding, and child gut microbiota

The National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark is looking for applicants to two fully financed PhD student positions. The positions are to be filled from May 1st, 2024 and September 1st, 2024, or at the earliest convenient date thereafter. 

The PhD projects are funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark and the University of Southern Denmark and is part of an overarching project entitled ‘Breastfeeding and environmental chemicals. Can and should all mothers breastfeed’. The project is described here.

PhD project 1: Maternal exposure to the persistent chemicals per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been consistently associated with shorter duration of breastfeeding and other endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been linked to impaired mammary gland development in rodents, but most EDCs have never been examined in relation to breastfeeding, and mixture effects have not been studied. Using previously collected data based on questionnaires and biological samples from the Danish National Birth cohort and the American Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment (HOME) study, the aim of the project is to identify individual EDCs and EDC mixtures that affect women’s ability to breastfeed.

PhD project 2: Gut microbiota plays a pivotal role in the maturation of the immune system in the first years of life, and breastfeeding has a major impact on the gut microbiota composition. However, breastmilk also contains PFAS, and PFAS might affect the gut microbiota. The aim of this project is thus to use previously collected data from questionnaires and biological samples in the Norwegian Microbiota (NoMIC) study to detect short and long term effects on child gut microbiota associated with breastmilk PFAS concentrations and breastfeeding quantity. 

Deadline: March 1st 2024