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 diet and metabolic profile impact pregnancy and birth outcomes. My current research investigates how different maternal exposures associate with time to pregnancy, and pregnancy complications; dietary modelling methods; and diet in relation to gestational diabetes.


Current research projects

BetterStart Research group:

PROJECT 1. Cultural differences regarding management to gestational diabetes

Supervisors: Dr Jessica Grieger, Dr Elizabeth Hoon, A/Prof Lisa Smithers 

The rate of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) has tripled in Australia over the last 15 years, now affecting 15% or 1 in 7 pregnancies. Diet and lifestyle management is the preferred means of managing GDM; however in antenatal care, there is no support for clinicians in determining which specific dietary intervention is the most effective for women with different cultural or social backgrounds. Because diet is closely tied to culture, adhering to a prescribed nutrition regimen may have specific challenges for certain groups of women.

Skills learned during this project: Focus group coordination; thematic analysis; consumer engagement

Project available for: Honours and HDR

Location: Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences Building, North Terrace

Research project start: Semester 2


Previous research projects

1. 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 and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women in later life. In the general population, metabolic syndrome (MetS) associates with T2DM and CVD.  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. Increasing body mass index in combination with having MetS further increased the likelihood for developing GDM. 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.

Research article:

Media links:

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.

Research article:

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.

Research article:

Media links:

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.

Research article:

Media links:

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.

Research article:

Altmetric link:

Total funding: $2.2 M

CIA: [2020] $70,000 Robinson Research Institute, Career Development Fellowship; [2019/20] $27,000 Barbara Kidman Fellowship, University of Adelaide; [2018] $40,000 Emerging Leadership Mentored Development Program, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences; [2015/16] $23,000 Robinson Research Institute seed funding; [2012] $34,000 Australian Seafood CRC; $10,800 NHMRC Equipment Grant; $10,000 Lyell McEwin Hospital Strategic Initiative; [2011] $10,000 Australian Mussel Industry Association.

Co-investigator: [2019-2021] $967,481, NHMRC Project Grant (CIE; APP ID 1161079; "Targeting micronutrients to tackle pregnancy disorders: an integrated approach"; [2010-2012] $218,555 Australian Seafood CRC; [2008-2013] $540,000 USD General Mills USA; [2009] $18,000 Foundation seeding grant Flinders Medical Centre; $68,000 Meat and Livestock Australia; $40,450 Kellogg Australia; $30,000 Australian Seafood CRC.


4010_HLTH_SC_2105 Reflect. Research. Resolve

Workshop coordinator, Nutritional Health stream


HLTH SC 3100 Exercise, Nutrition and Metabolism:

Practical demonstrator (Dietary methodology)

2017, 2015

HLTH SC 3100 Exercise, Nutrition and Metabolism:

Guest lecture (nutrition and fertility; energy expenditure and cardiovascular health)

2008 -2009 Co-lecturer: Nutrition 1, 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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