Hellen Lustermans

Junior researcher

About me

HomeDevelopmental PsychobiologyHellen Lustermans

As a PhD student, I am interested in the influence of early life stress on infant’s development, especially on the development of gut microbiota.

Previous research suggests that both during pregnancy and in the first months after birth, maternal psychological well-being is related to infant’s gut bacteria composition. During my PhD I will investigate a potential mechanism explaining this link, namely early life nutrition. I am focusing on maternal prenatal diet and breast milk composition, since both might (in)directly shape the bacteria in the infant’s intestines.

To answer my research questions, I have set-up the SMILEY project (Study of MIcrobiota and Lifestyle in the Early Years) and currently I am still collecting data together with my colleagues of the SMILEY team. It is very special to follow a group of 165 mothers and babies from pregnancy to postpartum. It not only gives me the chance to learn from their data, I also learn a lot about there real-life experiences in this extraordinary time of a human’s life.