Jessica Grieger

Jessica Grieger

Post Doctoral - Research Fellow

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.

My current research focuses on nutrition in pregnancy and my research direction is in understanding how changes in diet can modify metabolic health to improve pregnancy and birth outcomes. My current research projects include how different maternal exposures associate with time to pregnancy, and pregnancy complications. I have experience in simulation and optimization dietary modeling as an approach to hypothetically predict changes in diet quality and health related outcomes according to nutritional exposures.

Research projects

Metabolic syndrome and pregnancy complications:

Obesity increases the risk for developing gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and preeclampsia (PE), which both associate with increased risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women in later life. In the general population, metabolic syndrome (MetS) associates with T2DM and CVD. The impact of maternal MetS on pregnancy outcomes, in nulliparous pregnant women, has not been investigated. We followed over 5500 women throughout their first pregnancy to investigate whether MetS was associated with risk for pregnancy complications. Overall, 12.3% (n=684) had MetS. These women were at a higher risk for developing GDM and PE by 2-4 times. We found that instead of a 1 in 30 chance of developing gestational diabetes without a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, there was a 1 in 8 chance (nearly 4 times higher chance) of developing gestational diabetes with a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. For preeclampsia, instead of a 1 in 25 chance of developing preeclampsia, there was a 1 in 15 chance (nearly 2 times higher) of developing preeclampsia with a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. Increasing body mass index in combination with having MetS further increased the likelihood for developing GDM. Other studies should look to see how MetS associates with pregnancy complications in different pregnant populations. We should continue to encourage all women, whether they are of normal or high body weight, to aim for a healthy pregnancy by having a good quality diet and continuing to exercise. Education should start early because we know that health issues track throughout life.

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Dietary intake and pregnancy outcomes:

1. Maternal nutrition can have a profound effect on fetal growth, development, and subsequent infant birth weight. Preconception dietary patterns have not been assessed in relation to perinatal outcomes. We retrospectively collected food frequency questionnaires in a group of 309 pregnant women. We were the first to show that a high fat, sugar and take-away dietary pattern increased the risk of preterm birth, whereas a diet high in protein and fruit reduced the risk for preterm birth. Modification to poor dietary behaviours, pre-pregnancy, may be beneficial to improve perinatal outcomes and the long-term health of the child.

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2.  In non-pregnant asthmatics, unhealthy diets have been shown to be an underlying contributor to poorly controlled asthma and subsequent risk of asthma exacerbations. Little attention has been paid to maternal dietary intakes pre-conception and the potential impact this might have on maternal asthma control. In a group of 309 pregnant women, we showed that higher scores on a "high fat/sugar/takeaway pattern" was associated with increased likelihood of uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy. A healthy dietary pattern should be encouraged in all asthmatic women who are of childbearing age, and should additionally be promoted before pregnancy and beyond.

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Diet and lifestyle factors associated with infertility:

1. Time to pregnancy (TTP) is a measure of how long a couple takes to conceive, and infertility is the failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. Several lifestyle factors, such as smoking and obesity, have consistently been associated with a longer TTP or infertility, but the role of preconception diet in women remains poorly studied. Healthier foods or dietary patterns have been associated with improved fertility, however, these studies focused on women already diagnosed with or receiving treatments for infertility, rather than in the general population. Our multi-centre SCOPE cohort study (n=5598 pregnant women), is the first to show that a lower intake of fruit and higher intake of fast food in the preconception period were both associated with a longer TTP. In women with the lowest intake of fruit, the risk of infertility increased from 8% to 12%, and in those who ate fast food four or more times a week, the risk of infertility increased from 8% to 16%. These findings underscore the importance of considering preconception diet for fertility and preconception guidance.

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2. In 5617 women from the SCOPE cohort study (n=1106 had been diagnosed with asthma), compared with non-asthmatics, women with current asthma who used only short-acting “rescue” medications like salbuterol were 15% less likely to have conceived in any given monthly cycle, and women on rescue medications were also 30% more likely to have taken more than 12 months to conceive.

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I am happy to collaborate on projects in other nutritionally vulnerable populations such as the elderly, assessing nutritional intake and functional outcomes and chronic diseases.

Chief/Principal investigator:

$40,000 Emerging Leadership Mentored Development Program, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences (2018)

$23,000 Robinson Research Institute seed funding (2015)

$34,000 Australian Seafood CRC (2012)

$10,000 Lyell McEwin Hospital Strategic Initiative (2012)

$10,800 NHMRC Equipment Grant (2011)

$10,000 Australian Mussel Industry Association (2009)


$967,481 NHMRC Project grant: "Targeting micronutrients to tackle pregnancy disorders: an integrated approach" (2019-2021)

$248,555 Australian Seafood CRC (2010-2012)

$18,000 Foundation seeding grant FMC (2009)

$68,000 MLA (2009)

$40,400 Kellogg Australia (2009)

$540,000 USD General Mills USA (2008-2013)


HLTH SC 3100 Exercise, Nutrition and Metabolism:

Practical demonstrator (Assessing nutritional intake)


HLTH SC 3100 Exercise, Nutrition and Metabolism:

Practical demonstrator (Assessing nutritional intake)

Lecture (nutrition and pregnancy health)


HLTH SC 3100 Exercise, Nutrition and Metabolism:

Practical demonstrator (Assessing nutritional intake)


HLTH SC 3100 Exercise, Nutrition and Metabolism:

Practical demonstrator (Assessing nutritional intake)

Lecture (energy expenditure and cardiovascular health)

2008 -2009 Co-lecturer: Nutrition 1 students at Penn State University, PA, USA


  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 Co-Supervisor The effect of micronutrients in oxidative stress, proliferation and apoptosis in placenta Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Nahal Habibi
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 - ongoing Principal Supervisor Lifestyle factors and the association with gestational diabetes, in a contemporary cohort of low socioeconomic pregnant women. University of Adelaide, Robinson Research Institute Honours Full Time Ashleigh Schneider
    2012 - 2012 Principal Supervisor Dietary strategies to attenuate telomere loss in older Australians: a pilot study Flinders University Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics Honours Full Time YanYin Phoi
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2012 - ongoing Member SA Cardiovascular Health Research Network
    2012 - ongoing Member Healthy Development Adelaide
    2003 - ongoing Member Nutrition Society of Australia
  • Position: Post Doctoral - Research Fellow
  • Phone: 83137697
  • Email:
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences, floor 6
  • Room: WS6062.44
  • Org Unit: Paediatrics and Reproductive Health

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