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McGuire Lab | About our work

Human Milk and Lactation Research Of particular interest to her research is understanding the importance of dietary lipids to maternal and infant health. In this regard, her research group has conducted several clinical trials designed to examine the effects of trans fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) on milk production and fatty acid concentrations. These studies have provided important evidence that maternal trans fatty acid consumption can decrease total milk fat, especially in lean women. This interactive effect is likely mediated by the inability of lean (but not heavier) women consuming trans fatty acids to mobilize sufficient adipose stores. In addition, her research has shown that maternal consumption of some, but not all, forms of CLA results in milk fat depression. This finding is especially important, as CLA supplements are commercially available and marketed to people trying to lose weight (a situation commonly encountered by postpartum women) and has impacted the ability of food manufacturers to add these CLA isomers to the food system. Shelley also has a long-standing interest in understanding the physiologic mechanisms driving the return of ovulatory function during the postpartum period. Her work has shown a previously undescribed interactive relationship among body fat changes, activity levels, and duration of postpartum amenorrhea. More recently, Shelley and her husband Dr. Mark McGuire (at the University of Idaho) have become interested in the presence of commensal and pathogenic bacteria in the human breast and the possibility that maternal fatty acid intake might alter the metabolism of these organisms and/or their impact on mammary health. As an extension, they are interested in how this might impact short- and long-term infant health. This area of research has direct implications in terms of milk production, infant health, mastitis, breast cancer, and other breast-related health issues.

Science Writing and Nutrition Translation Dr. McGuire is also passionately committed to bettering human health through the provision of user-friendly, high-quality, evidence-based nutrition information. Shelley is a seasoned science writer, having coauthored an introductory textbook now in its second edition (Nutritional Sciences: from Fundamentals to Food, Brooks Cole) as well as numerous other nutrition-related articles for both nutrition-savvy and general audiences. Currently, she consults as a technical writer for several private and federal agencies. She also researches and writes monthly press releases highlighting the “editors’ picks” from The Journal of Nutrition and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the world’s most prestigious peer-reviewed nutrition journals.

Public Intellect and Professional Service Shelley is actively involved in several professional organizations on both national and international levels, having been a member of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) since 1987, and served on its executive board from 2006-2008. Shelley was named a National Spokesperson for ASN in 2008 and enjoys the challenge of frequent interviews with the media such as the LA Times, Glamour Magazine, Redbook, Travel and Leisure, and various radio broadcasts. Shelley is also a member of the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML), having received its Ehrlich-Koldovsky Award to “recognize a young investigator who has begun to make outstanding, original scientific contributions to the study of human milk and lactation” in 2002. She is currently the treasurer of this Society.