Dr. Shelley McGuire: FCS and COVID Research on Breastfeeding Babies

Welcome to Connect FCS Ed, thank you so much for listening. I’m your host Barbara Scully. On today’s episode I am chatting with Dr. Shelley McGuire the director of the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences at University of Idaho. Dr. Shelley and I chat about her programs and how Dr. Shelley conducted a COVID research funded by the Gates Foundation on breastfeeding babies.

Listen in…


• At the University of Idaho, were the oldest department at the university, and we were the first Home Program in the West, and we’re still going strong. Almost 125 years later, and we’re a one-stop shop for Family and Consumer Sciences, we have degrees in apparel, textile and design, we have a couple degrees in nutrition, one leads to dietetics career, the other one leads to medical school or the likes. We have a human development, family studies program, and we have a child development program and another program, early childhood education, so you’re certified to teach through third grade. (1:50)

• They have, I think, very minimal teacher preparation programs when it comes to Family Consumer Sciences educators or education programs, there’s a huge push in Illinois, Texas, South Dakota, Nebraska, and here in Washington and Idaho. We have these hot spots for Family Consumer Sciences education and the teacher preparation program in what you’re talking about, but we need more of these programs because it’s the vitality and the longevity for our legacy. (4:49)

• This has probably been the most difficult and important study that we’ve ever done, and I think like everybody else, when the pandemic hit, we all wanted to do something. It’s like, Well, what can we do to help? And everybody wanted to help and people who knew how to sew made masks, you did what you knew how to do to help your fellow human being, right? Well, I studied breastfeeding and I study breastfeeding with my husband, actually, he’s my partner in crime, Mark McGuire at the University of Idaho. In our research group, and this is what we study, so I think it wasn’t a big surprise that we had this immediate idea when this pandemic started, we wondered if the virus could be transmitted from the mother to the baby via breastfeeding. (7:52)

• COVID-infected moms from across the country who were so passionate about helping us get the information that they were willing to be in a study for us. And we shipped them milk collection supplies and to even take blood samples from their babies. They do heel prick from their babies and themselves to help us get the answers. And they worked with us over the phone, and we ended up recruiting 60-some moms who were just amazing, and we ship them all the supplies to their homes, they collected the samples, did the surveys on the phone with our research support people here in Moscow, Idaho and Pullman, Washington. (11:43)

• Women make up about half of the world, and a lot of them are in their child-bearing years. So this is what I’m talking about. Let’s have a plan in place, because this took individual researchers trying to find the money, trying to find everything, trying to put everything together, trying to reinvent the wheel, rather than having a government agency like the CDC take it on from the start to answer the question to start a better way to do this. There is a better way, but it’s putting the right people in those certain places, has everything to do with the right place at the right time, and of course, money talks. But I tell you what, when you got a lot of passionate people that want to answer a question to get it done, so regardless, will get it done is in the definition, the very definition of perseverance. (20:30)


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Website: https://www.uidaho.edu/cals/family-and-consumer-sciences/our-people/shelley-mcguire

#UIdaho #uicals #fcs

JUNE 16, 2021

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