Maternal and Child Health & Nutrition: A PLOS Cross-Journal Call for Papers

PLOS Medicine and PLOS ONE are excited to announce a cross-journal Call for Papers for high-quality research dedicated to the role of Nutrition in Maternal and Child Health. Research accepted for publication in PLOS Medicine will appear in a Special Issue, along with commissioned commentary from leading experts in the field. The broader Collection, comprising all articles published in PLOS Medicine and PLOS ONE, will launch shortly after.

Nearly one in three persons suffers from at least one form of malnutrition, including undernutrition, inadequate micronutrients levels, overweight, obesity and resulting diet-related non-communicable diseases [1,2]. Different forms of malnutrition can occur at population, household or individual levels across the life course and have dramatic consequences on development, health and society. Simultaneously it has become increasingly clear that in many parts of the world maternal, newborn and child health outcomes have shifted from being predominantly impacted by direct obstetric causes to an increasing proportion of indirect causes, many of which are related to nutrition [3]. Women with diabetes, anemia or who are overweight are at a higher risk of childbirth-related complications and their newborns are also at a higher risk of experiencing adverse health outcomes later in life [4]. There is therefore a need to take a life-cycle approach and acknowledge the importance of nutrition for maternal and child health.


For this Collection shared by PLOS Medicine and PLOS ONE, we welcome high quality primary research articles that address the health of the mother and child as well as aspects of nutrition that lie within one or more of the following crosscutting perspectives:


  • Social and nutritional transitions have, especially in low- and middle-income countries and resource-constrained regions of high-income countries, led to serious consequences for the nutrition and health of the mother–child dyad. Concomitant obesity, overweight and underweight in communities and families against the background of a rapidly changing society are challenges for health services as well as other sectors of society, and research investigating clinical or epidemiological aspects of these social and nutritional transitions as well as interventions and policies targeting these are thus of interest.
  • Maternal and infant nutrition: Maternal nutritional status encompassing the periods before, during, between, and after pregnancy, including while breastfeeding, and infant nutrition in the crucial first 1,000 days have an impact on fetal development, pregnancy complications, birth outcomes and child healthWe particularly welcome clinical trials and other practice-changing research investigating the role of nutritional risk factors on complications of pregnancy such as gestational diabetes, hypertension or infectious diseases; prenatal, maternal and infant food and micronutrient supplementation; as well as infant and young child feeding practices.
  • Continuum of care for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition has been used to describe the integrated services delivered for mother and child. The continuum could be extended from pre-pregnancy of the mother through childhood of the offspring. Families, communities and the health system provide these services, and the gaps in services in most societies lead to lost opportunities and severe consequences for nutrition and for the health of mother and child. Public health and clinical studies as well as implementation research focusing on these issues are welcome.
  • Developmental origin of health and disease (DOHaD) perspective potentially covers the period before conception and continuing up to adulthood or parts thereof and focuses on one generation or across generations. Clinically-relevant genetic and epigenetic epidemiology or mechanistic studies and intervention trials investigating the parental influence on the future health of offspring later in life are of interest—these could be limited to the mother and/or also address the effects of paternal exposures.

Submission Instructions

Articles must be submitted to PLOS Medicine by 15 March 2019 at For PLOS ONE, articles must be submitted by 10 May 2019 at Submissions not selected for PLOS Medicine may be offered transfer to PLOS ONE, before or after peer review, with the prospect of inclusion in the accompanying PLOS ONE Collection.

Authors should specify the Call for Papers, “Maternal and Child Health & Nutrition,” in their cover letter and, additionally for PLOS ONE, in the ‘Collections’ field under ‘Additional Information.’

Questions about the PLOS Medicine special issue can be directed to; questions related to the PLOS ONE Collection can be sent to

Guest Editors: Maternal and Child Health & Nutrition

Dr. Lars Åke Persson

Guest Editor, PLOS Medicine Maternal and Child Health & Nutrition

Lars Åke Persson, MD, PhD, is a Professor in Public Health Evaluation at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and based at the Ethiopian Public Health Institute, Addis Ababa. He is a pediatrician and epidemiologist and was previously Professor and Chair of International Maternal and Child Health at Uppsala University, Sweden. He has also served as Director of the Public Health Sciences Division at the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh. His research has focused on the mother-child dyad, nutrition interventions, social epidemiology, and implementation research. A large part of his research is population-based and performed in low-income settings in Asia and Africa.

He received his medical degree from Uppsala University (1973) and his Ph.D. (1984) from Umeå University, Sweden.

Competing Interests: Dr. Persson receives a stipend as a Specialty Consulting Editor for PLOS Medicine and serves on the journal's Editorial Board.

Dr. Kathleen M. Rasmussen

Guest Editor, PLOS Medicine Maternal and Child Health & Nutrition

Kathleen M. Rasmussen is the Nancy Schlegel Meinig Professor of Maternal and Child Nutrition in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.  She developed and has been the Program Director of a NIH-funded training grant in maternal and child nutrition since 1987.

Dr. Rasmussen’s research focuses on maternal nutritional status and health during pregnancy and lactation, with studies in experimental species and human subjects. She teaches public health nutrition for undergraduates and maternal and child nutrition for graduate students. She has provided extensive service to the National Academies, including as chair of committees that revised the guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy and revised the food packages for the WIC Program. 

She holds an AB in Molecular Biology from Brown University (1970) and ScM (1975) and ScD (1978) degrees from Harvard University. Her postdoctoral training in nutrition was at Cornell University.

Competing Interests: None.

Dr. Huixia Yang

Guest Editor, PLOS Medicine Maternal and Child Health & Nutrition

Huixia Yang, MD, PhD, is currently Professor and Director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Peking University First Hospital, and Vice President of the Chinese Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She is part of the FIGO Working Group for Good Practices in Maternal Fetal Medicine, the WHO Study Group on Criteria for Diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus in Pregnancy, and the founder and chairman of the Chinese DOHaD Society.

She has been engaged in perinatal medicine for decades and her focus is gestational diabetes mellitus. Her research is concerned with the development of new approaches for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of pregnancy complications with a view to improving short- and long-term health for both mother and child. In recent years, her research has expanded to include fetal medicine as well as placental implantation.

After graduating from Peking University Health Science Center, she was a research fellow at Brigham & Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School (2000-2002). Since 2012, she has been in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Peking University First Hospital in China.

Competing Interests: None.

Dr. Barbara Abrams

Guest Editor, PLOS ONE Maternal and Child Health & Nutrition

Barbara Abrams is a Professor in the Graduate School at the University of California’s Berkeley School of Public Health. She is a perinatal and nutritional epidemiologist whose work emphasizes prevention of obesity and promotion of excellent maternal and child health at the individual and neighborhood level, across the life course and between generations.

Her research focuses on the inter-relationships between maternal weight, nutrition and social factors and their contributions to several outcomes: 1) maternal health before, during, after and between pregnancies and into mid-life, 2) perinatal outcomes and 3) the role of maternal health during pregnancy on children’s physical health and development. Her work aims to inform public health, clinical and policy interventions that encourage optimal maternal weight and health and prevent outcomes such as severe maternal morbidity, adverse fetal and child outcomes, with special attention to reducing health disparities.

Competing Interests: None.

Dr. Camila Corvalán Aguilar

Guest Editor, PLOS ONE Maternal and Child Health & Nutrition

Camilla is a medical doctor and epidemiologist trained in nutrition. Her primary interest is human growth and development and the early prevention of obesity and non-communicable chronic diseases. Camilla coordinates the Center for Research in Food Environments and Nutrition-Related Chronic Diseases (CIAPEC) at the University of Chile.

CIAPEC runs longitudinal studies during key periods of life with the aim of better understanding the emergence of nutrition-related chronic diseases such as obesity, metabolic diseases and breast cancer in the context of a post-transitional country. Camilla is also an advisor for several governmental agencies involved in infant policies such as the nutrition department of the Ministry of Health, Chile.


Competing Interests: None.

Dr. Jyu-Lin Chen

Guest Editor, PLOS ONE Maternal and Child Health & Nutrition

Dr. Chen is a professor and the Chao endowed chair in global health nursing at University of California San Francisco. She is also the director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program and a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. Her program of research focuses on two main areas: (1) development of innovative childhood obesity prevention interventions; and (2) reducing global health disparities for non-communicable disease in Asia.

Dr. Chen has received more than 25 research grants and published 60 peer-reviewed articles in international journals in the field of Nursing, Medicine, and Public Health. She is an internationally known nurse scientist focused on prevention of non-communicable diseases, especially obesity and diabetes prevention in Chinese Americans and Chinese in Asia.

Competing Interests: None.

Dr. Shane Norris

Guest Editor, PLOS ONE Maternal and Child Health & Nutrition

Shane Norris is a Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Shane directs the South African Medical Research Council Unit's Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, and the South African Department of Science and Technology-National Research Foundation's Centre of Excellence in Human Development.

He has extensive research experience in longitudinal cohort studies and epidemiology and his research expertise and interest include (i) maternal and child health, (ii) child nutrition, growth, body composition, and development; and (ii) intergenerational transmission of obesity and metabolic disease risk.  

Competing Interests: None.

Dr. Spencer Proctor

Guest Editor, PLOS ONE Maternal and Child Health & Nutrition

Dr. Spencer Proctor is a Professor and the Director of the Division of Human Nutrition at the University of Alberta (UofA), Edmonton, Canada. Dr. Proctor trained in Australia in the field of cardiovascular sciences and later in pharmaceutics. Following his PhD, he was awarded an International Fellowship from the Australian Medical Research Council that brought him to the Dept Surgery at the UofA. Shortly following this he joined the Nutrition Faculty at the UofA.

Dr. Proctor is a member of the Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipid Group and is affiliated with both the Alberta Diabetes and Mazankowski Heart Institutes. Dr. Proctor’s ongoing interests include; the role of dietary and intestinal lipids in diabetes and CVD, fatty acid bioactivity and atherosclerosis etiology. He has been recognized at the national and international level for his contributions and his research program is funded by NSERC, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, CIHR, Dairy and Livestock Sectors as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

Competing Interests: None.