Meet the Gerber early childhood nutrition experts
JATINDER BHATIA, MD, FAAP
Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
“I credit my father as an important influence in my passion for nutrition. My father was an accomplished researcher in food technology and instilled in me as a child, the importance of and the impact of early nutrition. Medical professionals all have the same goal: to make a difference in their patients’ health. Seeking ways to better our nutritional practices continues to be a passion of mine and I continue to believe that early nutrition is one of the key influences to better health outcomes. Different ways of educating others – including health professionals, consumers, and children about nutrition - is something I continue to explore and believe can make an impact .”
Dr. Jatinder Bhatia is a 1975 graduate of the Armed Forces Medical College of the University of Poona, India. He completed his pediatric residency, including a year as chief resident, at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia followed by a joint fellowship in neonatology and pediatric nutrition at the University of Iowa. He then joined the faculty at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston where he rose through the ranks to associate professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine and Community Health. He also held a joint appointment at the university’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
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WILLIAM J. KLISH, MD
Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics
"Infant nutrition has fascinated me since the beginning of my career. Unique to infants, they typically get all of their nutrition from a sole food source: breastfeeding or formula when breastfeeding is not an option. Understanding the reasons why infant formula or breastmilk alone meet the nutritional needs of a baby requires an understanding of the entire field of nutrition. As a pediatrician and gastroenterologist, I enjoy playing a role in moving nutrition knowledge forward, while helping parents nourish a healthier generation. Take, for example, obesity and the fact that the roots of adult obesity lie in infancy and childhood. Changing the way healthcare practitioners and the food industry counsel parents on healthy feeding practices is a key area of focus for me. If parents do not buy into the suggested changes for food or lifestyle, the obesity epidemic will continue.”
William J. Klish, MD, is Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He was the first person to be credentialed in pediatric gastroenterology by the American Board of Pediatrics and is credited with helping develop pediatric gastroenterology as a field.
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ALAN M. LAKE, MD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
“I find it fascinating and intimidating that the nutrition we provide an infant, from in-utero on, impacts that child’s health for decades. That’s why I enjoy the challenge of educating parents about their child's needs and working with industry professionals to ensure that the right options are available.”
Alan M. Lake, MD, is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a practicing pediatrician and sits on a number of national and state committees dedicated to early childhood nutrition and pediatric health.
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MICHELLE M. PIETZAK, MD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
“‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’ This was said by Hippocrates more than two millennia ago and still rings true today. Many of today’s chronic diseases, including obesity, fatty liver disease, food allergies, and celiac disease can be attributed to today’s Western dietary practices. Infants born via C-section and not breastfed can experience abnormal intestinal flora, a potential environmental trigger for many diseases. Today’s healthcare practitioners often focus on treating existing conditions with drugs rather than prevention with a healthy diet and lifestyle. What I most enjoy about being a Pediatric Gastroenterologist is teaching my patients, their families, and referring physicians that many gastrointestinal conditions can be treated with dietary management. By doing so, we may return to foundations laid by Hippocrates and others after him to prevent chronic illnesses in ourselves and our children through nutrition.”
Michelle M. Pietzak, MD, is Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, California. In her practice, she cares primarily for children with autoimmune inflammatory bowel diseases (such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis), short-bowel syndrome, and for those who have special nutritional needs requiring either intravenous nutrition or special formulas.
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ANNA NOWAK, MD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
“The quote “You are what you eat” has never been more relevant regarding nutrition for infants and children as it is today. It has become very clear that the healthy nutrition during the first 1000 days of life provides the foundation of wellbeing for life. The quality, quantity and the timing of introducing foods to infants determine growth and development of all organ systems. This knowledge can be used to ensure normal nervous system development and to prevent autoimmunity, allergy, inflammatory intestinal and cardiovascular diseases. However, this continues to be a work in progress because we need much more data to fully understand the effects of the specific dietary interventions. For these very important reasons, I am excited and honored to join the Gerber Advisory Council and greatly appreciate the opportunity to learn from the other experts. Together we can provide the evidence-based recommendations to optimize the quality of early life nutrition and wellbeing of children.”
Dr. Nowak is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, Division t of Allergy & Immunology in New York, New York.
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Advisory Board Consultant
BRYAN VARTABEDIAN, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
“Over the years, I have had many parents come to me seeking nutritional guidance for their babies. The role that nutrition plays in preventing health issues is an area that is often overlooked. I find it fascinating to see the growing amount of published literature about how probiotics can help bring balance to gut microbiota, demonstrating outcomes of improved health. In particular, recent papers prove that the probiotic L. reuteri can help reduce crying time in colicky babies. I enjoy teaching parents about these new findings in nutrition and providing simple tips to improve their family’s healthy lifestyle.”
Bryan Vartabedian, MD, is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and a pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas. He holds a board certification in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition. He is a strong advocate for the continued convergence of social media and medicine.
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