USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center

CNRC Research Directives


As the first federal nutrition research center to investigate the nutritional needs of pregnant and nursing women, and children from conception through adolescence, the Children's Nutrition Research Center conducts research that helps improve the maternal, infant and child nutrition guidelines used by physicians, parents and others responsible for the care and feeding of children.


Nutritional Metabolism in Mothers, Infants, and Children

Item Definition

This area of research seeks to define the nutritional distresses and critical windows of development that alter physical activity; understand the various factors that regulate mammary gland function in lactating mothers; and contribute to the development of nutritionally enhanced plant foods and assess their impact on human health.

Pediatric Clinical Nutrition

Item Definition

Studies being investigated aim to enhance our understanding of the influences and role of various nutrients on fetal, postnatal, and childhood health, growth, and development as well as the etiology of obesity.

Childhood Obesity Prevention

Item Definition

Studies in this area involve identifying factors that influence the development of children's eating habits and how to best help children and families adopt healthier habits and, hence, avoid or lessen long-term health problems linked to poor nutrition.

Developmental Determinants of Obesity in Infants and Children

Item Definition

These CNRC research studies address the mechanism(s) by which an inadequate intake of dietary nutrients like folic acid, Vitamin A, protein, and cholesterol during critical periods of development exert permanent effects on development of specific organs (e.g., brain) as well as health risks (e.g., increased risk for obesity, heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis in adulthood.

Molecular, Cellular and Regulatory aspects of Nutrition during Development

Item Definition

The goal of this research is to identify strategies to optimize the nutrition and health of infants and their development as well as how dietary components help determine organ growth, development and function throughout gestation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.