An early researcher at Edge Hill University is looking at inequalities between different ethnic groups to investigate why BAME women typically gain more weight during pregnancy and ways to address health risks.
Miracle Rotimi, a Nigerian Biochemistry graduate who came to the UK to study public health, first graduated with a Masters in Public Health Nutrition at Edge Hill in December 2019.
After studying breastfeeding amongst women in Nigeria for her Masters, she decided to stay with the university to do a PhD on the weight change, diet and physical activity of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) pregnant women in Liverpool.
The Commonwealth Scholar turned her studies from biological processes to public health in the UK driven by a desire to make more of an impact and help prevent disease.
Miracle said: “My biochemistry degree in Nigeria focused on the metabolic processes in the body, including how drugs and molecules like proteins and carbohydrates are metabolised.
“I discovered that the causes of most diseases are linked to preventable lifestyle choices, aside from genetic and autoimmune diseases.
“I felt I wanted to make more of an impact on public health by studying how a person’s lifestyle choices, something they can control, can make a difference to their health.
“For example, choices related to exercise, diet, smoking and alcohol consumption all impact on a person’s chances of developing disease including cardiovascular diseases.
“I’m passionate about nutrition and improving the health of women and children, so when I came across the PhD research on BAME women at Edge Hill it resonated with me so much that I wanted to be part of it.”
Miracle is now researching inequalities between different ethnic groups to try and discover why BAME women typically gain more weight during pregnancy, are less active and eat less fruit and vegetables than white British women.
She said: “It’s well established that excess weight gain in pregnancy is a risk factor for adverse outcomes, while remaining physically active and maintaining a healthy diet decreases these risks.
“Amongst different ethnic groups in the UK there are persisting inequalities, with BAME women having a higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as gestational diabetes, complications during labour etc.
“Black woman are five times at risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth and Asian women are twice as likely to die compared to white women.
“Despite these grim statistics, interventions tailored to help reduce the risk to BAME women are lacking in the UK, which highlights a need that must be met.”
Miracle will be working with Liverpool Women’s Hospital to conduct interviews with pregnant women and continue her research to try and understand why these inequalities exist.
She added: “I hope my research can aid understanding as to what factors influence the weight change, dietary intake and physical activity levels of BAME women, to inform the development of future interventions tailored to improve the outcome for BAME women.”