Barbra de Vrijer

Maternal, Fetal & Newborn Health Dr. Barbra de Vrijer
Associate Scientist


Associate Scientist, Division of Maternal, Fetal & Newborn Health, Children's Health Research Institute

Consultant, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Victoria Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre

Associate Scientist, Lawson Health Research Institute

Associate Professor, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Western University


How my research helps children

The first 1000 days of life, the time from conception to 2 years of age, are considered critical in the development of a child’s metabolic health. Adverse events during this time are thought to contribute strongly to future risk for childhood obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes. Despite this knowledge, we have little understanding of which environmental and nutritional factors impact infant health the most, which infants are most at risk, and what interventions should be instituted to stop the growing rates of childhood obesity.

Our research focuses on the development of novel technologies that can contribute to our understanding of abnormal metabolic development during this important stage of a child’s life, with the aim to improve detection, prevention and treatment of childhood obesity.

Research Activities

The Collaborative Obesity in Pregnancy Research Group conducts clinical research focusing on better detection of abnormal placental function, to improve pregnancy outcome, prevent stillbirth and long term consequences of abnormal intrauterine environment, such as childhood obesity and diabetes. Together with our collaborators and co-investigators, we:

  • Investigate how novel MRI-based technologies can contribute to our understanding and ability to detect abnormal metabolism inside the womb
  • Determine how the assessment of cardiovascular health can be clinically useful in the pregnancy of patients with high BMI, using Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV)
  • Investigate changes in metabolic and inflammatory markers, decorin levels and placental autophagy in patients with obesity and/or preeclampsia
  • Study the effect of maternal obesity, mode of delivery and preventative use of antibiotics for Group B streptococci on the early development of the infant’s microbiota
  • Assess women’s and clinicians’ experiences with pregnancy care for patients with obesity, participation in clinical research, prenatal testing and future health of the baby

Research Team

The Collaborative Obesity in Pregnancy Research Group: Supporting a Team to Investigate Placental Adaptations to Obesity has been awarded a Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health and Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (CIHR/IHDCYH/SOGC) Team Grant, with matching funding from the Children’s Health Research Institute, the Dean's office, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Women’s Development Council.

Dr Genevieve Eastabrook (Co-PI) MD (Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology)
Dr Victor Han MD (Professor, Pediatrics)
Dr Peeyush Lala MD PhD (Professor-Emeritus, Anatomy and Cell Biology)
Dr Charles McKenzie PhD (Associate Professor, Medical Biophysics)
Dr Debbie Penava MD (Associate Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology)
Dr Timothy Regnault PhD (Associate Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology)
Dr Trevor Shepherd PhD (Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology)
Dr Samuel Siu MD (Professor, Medicine/Cardiology)

Dr Jeremy Burton PhD dBA (Assistant Professor, Surgery)
Dr Marilyn Evans RN PhD (Associate Professor, Associate Professor
Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing)
Dr Michelle Mottola PhD (Professor, Anatomy and Cell Biology)
Dr Jeff Nisker MD PhD (Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology)
Dr Bryan Richardson MD (Professor, Physiology/Pharmacology and Pediatrics)
Dr Jamie Seabrook PhD (Assistant Professor, School of Foods and Nutritional Sciences)

Research Assistants:
Jennifer Ryder MHS
Laura McMurphy MSc

Awards & Grants


CIHR/IHDCYH/SOGC Team Grant: Clinician-Investigator Teams in Obstetrics & Maternal-Fetal Medicine

Children’s Health Research Institute

Women's Development Council

National Institutes of Health - Human Placenta Project

Western University, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Academic Enrichment Fund

Western Strategic Support for CIHR Success

Lawson Health Research Institute

Strategic Initiative in Research in Reproductive Health Sciences (STIRRHS)

Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

Recent Publications



Campbell EE, Dworatzek PD, Penava D, de Vrijer B, Gilliland J, Matthews JI, Seabrook JA. Factors that influence excessive gestational weight gain: moving beyond assessment and counselling. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med, 2016 Nov 1; 29 (21): 3527-31

McManus R, Summers K, de Vrijer B, Cohen N, Thompson A, Giroux I. Maternal, umbilical arterial and umbilical venous 25-hydroxyvitamin D and adipocytokine concentrations in pregnancies with and without gestational diabetes. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf), 2014 May 1; 80 (5): 635-41


Siddiqui MF, Nandi P, Girish GV, Nygard K, Eastabrook G, de Vrijer B, Han VK, Lala PK. Decorin over-expression by decidual cells in preeclampsia: a potential blood biomarker. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 2016 Sep 1; 215 (3): 361.e1-361.e15

Regnault TR, de Vrijer B, Galan HL, Wilkening RB, Battaglia FC, Meschia G. Umbilical uptakes and transplacental concentration ratios of amino acids in severe fetal growth restriction. Pediatr Res, 2013 May 1; 73 (5): 602-11

Kim-Fine S, Regnault TR, Lee JS, Gimbel SA, Greenspoon JA, Fairbairn J, Summers K, de Vrijer B. Male gender promotes an increased inflammatory response to lipopolysaccharide in umbilical vein blood. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med, 2012 Nov 1; 25 (11): 2470-4


Friesen-Waldner LJ, Sinclair KJ, Wade TP, Michael B, Chen AP, de Vrijer B, Regnault TR, McKenzie CA. Hyperpolarized [1-(13) C]pyruvate MRI for noninvasive examination of placental metabolism and nutrient transport: A feasibility study in pregnant guinea pigs. J Magn Reson Imaging, 2016 Mar 1; 43 (3): 750-5


Wada K, de Vrijer B, Hales BF, Nisker J. Implications of Applying Minimal Risk Standards in Clinical Research to Information Provision in Prenatal and Pre-conception Care. J Obstet Gynaecol Can, 2016 Oct 1; 38 (10): 965-974

Vanstone M, King C, de Vrijer B, Nisker J. Non-invasive prenatal testing: ethics and policy considerations. J Obstet Gynaecol Can, 2014 Jun 1; 36 (6): 515-26

Best Start Resource Centre. (2013). Obesity in preconception and pregnancy. Toronto, ON Canada. Best Start Resource Centre at Health Nexus,, (Key informant)


Dhir S, Racine J, Gratton R, Bergin L, de Vrijer B. Management of labour and delivery in congenitally corrected transposition of great arteries. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand, 2015 Nov 1; 59 (10): 1397-403

Nayot D, Penava D, Da Silva O, Richardson B, de Vrijer B. Neonatal outcomes are associated with latency after preterm premature rupture of membranes. J Perinatol. 2012 Dec; 32 (12): 970-7

Koteles J, de Vrijer B, Penava D, Xie B. Maternal characteristics and satisfaction associated with intrapartum epidural analgesia use in Canadian women. Int J Obstet Anesth. 2012 Oct; 21 (4): 317-23



Phone: (519) 685-8500, x66106
Fax: (519) 661-6213
Email: barbra [dot] devrijer [at] lhsc [dot] on [dot] ca