Proposal summaries

These are research proposals that have been approved by the ALSPAC exec. The titles include a B number which identifies the proposal and the date on which the proposals received ALSPAC exec approval.

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B3761 - Prevalence and Factors Associated with Behavioral Difficulties in 5-year-old Children Born with Cleft Lip and/or Palate - 15/04/2021

B number: 
B3761
Principal applicant name: 
Evie Stergiakouli | MRC IEU, UoB
Co-applicants: 
Sammy Berman
Title of project: 
Prevalence and Factors Associated with Behavioral Difficulties in 5-year-old Children Born with Cleft Lip and/or Palate
Proposal summary: 

Cleft lip and/or palate (CLP) or orofacial cleft is a group of congenital birth defects affecting 1 in 700 newborns annually [1]. Commonly associated with structural problems relating to feeding, hearing, speech, and tooth development, recent research shows that affected individuals may also be at an elevated risk for psychological, social, and behavioral challenges [1],[2]. While many studies have sought to investigate the psychosocial effects of CLP, a 2005 systematic review was inconclusive, citing a dearth of longitudinal research and a lack of consistency and uniformity between studies [3]. In 2017, a Cleft Care UK study of five-year old children with unilateral CLP (UCLP) found that children born with UCLP had higher levels of behavioral problems than the general population, but that these findings required replication [1]. Researchers also suggest that children born with CLP may experience heightened psychosocial challenges around the school transition, and that this is worthy of investigation [1]. All of the contributing research cites a sufficient lack of large, longitudinal studies, focused on the psychological development of children born with CLP, and that this research is critical to the development of appropriate interventions for this population [1],[3].
1. Waylen A, Mahmoud O, Wills AK, Sell D, Sandy JR, Ness AR. Centre-level variation
in behaviour and the predictors of behaviour in 5-year-old children with non-
syndromic unilateral cleft lip: The Cleft Care UK study. Part 5. Orthodontics &
Craniofacial Research. 2017;20(S2):40–7.
2. Cleft lip and palate [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2017 [cited 2019 Apr 2]. Available from:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cleft-lip-and-palate/
3. Hunt O, Burden D, Hepper P, Johnston C. The psychosocial effects of cleft lip and
palate: a systematic review. Eur J Orthod. 2005 Jun;27(3):274–85.
4. Bjerke SM, Feragen KB, Bergvik S. Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire
(SDQ): Informant Agreement Between Children Born With Cleft Lip and/or
Palate and Their Parents. Cleft Palate Craniofac J. 2018;55(2):204–12.

Impact of research: 
The results of this study will provide valuable information for better understanding the needs of the CLP population and can advance our understanding of a potentially unmet service need from a public health perspective.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 13 April, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 15 April, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Congenital abnormalities

B3750 - Fit body fit mind The relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength during adolescence with future risk - 13/04/2021

B number: 
B3750
Principal applicant name: 
Gemma Lewis | UCL (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Tia Urgasova
Title of project: 
Fit body, fit mind? The relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength during adolescence with future risk
Proposal summary: 

THis project is linked to dataset B2857

There is growing evidence that exercise is good for brain and mental health. We know much less about whether keeping in good physical shape during adolescence can prevent onset of mental illness later in life. Research shows that higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength are associated with lower incidence of common mental disorders in adults (Baumeister et al., 2017; Hallgreen et al., 2020; Kandola, Ashdown-Franks, Stubbs, Osborn & Hayes, 2019; Kandola, Osborn, Stubbs, Choi & Hayes, 2020), but we know little about these associations in adolescents. Physical activity has been found to be a positive predictor of better mental health in students (Velten, Bieda, Scholten, Wannemüller & Jürgen, 2018), and light activity during childhood lowers the incidence of depressive and anxiety symptoms in adolescence (Hamer, Patalay, Bell & Batty, 2020; Kandola, Lewis, Osborn, Stubbs & Hayes, 2020). This study will aim to investigate the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength during adolescence with the incidence of common mental disorders later in life.

Impact of research: 
Inform public health strategies for the prevention of adolescent depression and anxiety.
Date proposal received: 
Saturday, 3 April, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 13 April, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics

B3755 - Do childhood ADHD symptoms predict anxiety disorders in adolescence - 13/04/2021

B number: 
B3755
Principal applicant name: 
Gemma Lewis | UCL (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Natasha Melineck
Title of project: 
Do childhood ADHD symptoms predict anxiety disorders in adolescence?
Proposal summary: 

This project is linked to dataset B2857

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common childhood neuropsychiatric disorder characterised by impaired levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Meta-analyses estimate the global pooled prevalence of ADHD to be 7.2% in children and adolescents (Thomas et al., 2015) and 3.4% in adults (Fayyad et al., 2007). Cross-sectional studies have shown anxiety disorders are more prevalent in individuals with ADHD compared to the general population (Van Ameringen, Mancini, Simpson, & Patterson, 2010) and the rates increase with age; up to 30% of young people and 50% of adults (Kooji et al., 2012) with ADHD meet the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder.
Although anxiety is highly prevalent in those with ADHD, much of the longitudinal research focuses on whether ADHD is associated with subsequent behaviour disorders and substance misuse. A 2008 systematic review by Jarret and Ollendick specifically identified a lack of longitudinal research on ADHD and subsequent anxiety; this finding still applies today. Longitudinal research on the matter is of importance to see whether ADHD symptoms predispose an individual to the development of anxiety. A recent study examined the association between co-occurring ADHD and anxiety from early to late adolescence and identified a bidirectional relationship between ADHD symptoms and anxiety (Murray et al., 2020) however, no study has examined longitudinal associations between childhood ADHD symptoms and anxiety in adolescence. This would provide a fuller picture of the association between ADHD and anxiety considering the onset of ADHD is often in childhood.

This project is linked to B2857.

Impact of research: 
Improving the prevention of anxiety.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 13 April, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 13 April, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods

B3757 - Early metabolic features of breast cancer susceptibility - 07/04/2021

B number: 
B3757
Principal applicant name: 
Vanessa Tan | IEU
Co-applicants: 
Francisca Ibacache Fuentes, Caroline Bull, Josh Bell, Emma Vincent
Title of project: 
Early metabolic features of breast cancer susceptibility
Proposal summary: 

Cancers develop for many years before they are diagnosed. Using data from first-generation ALSPAC offspring, we aim in this study to estimate the effects of being more genetically susceptible to breast cancer on metabolic traits measured in blood across early life; this should help to reveal what early stages of breast cancer development look like and when they occur. More specifically, we will examine associations of genetic risk scores for breast cancer that has been shown to be influenced by obesity with traits from targeted metabolomics measured in childhood (age 8y), adolescence (age 15y), and young adulthood (age 18y and 25y). This allows us to view subtle changes in metabolism over time which precede the onset of clinically detectable breast cancer by several decades. Recognizing the early signs of breast cancer development is vital for informing early detection, preventing its onset in older age, and improving survival

Impact of research: 
The likely output of this research will be at least one publication in a general medical or epidemiology journal, the impact of which may be theoretical advancement in active research fields of metabolism and cancer, and recommendations for clinical practice.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 31 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 7 April, 2021
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Cancer, Metabolomics, Mendelian randomisation

B3758 - EMBED - 07/04/2021

B number: 
B3758
Principal applicant name: 
Robi Tacutu | Institute of Biochemistry of the Romanian Academy (Romania)
Co-applicants: 
Prof. Moshe Szyf
Title of project: 
EMBED
Proposal summary: 

Around 40% of the EU population suffers from a mental disorder. Healthy development can be derailed by excessive or prolonged activation of stress response systems in the body and brain during fetal life. Such toxic stress exposure can have damaging effects on learning, behavior, and mental health across the lifespan. Our ERA-NET consortium (Project EMBED) focuses on two cohorts (offspring of obese or stressed mothers), aiming to address specific questions on mental health risk factors. This might be then used in the clinic for disease prevention and health promotion during pregnancy.

Our hypothesis is that maternal obesity and inadequate nutrition during prenatal life can trigger similar responses to maternal stress, altering developmental trajectories and increasing the risk for mental health in adulthood. These adverse experiences can increase the likelihood of developmental delays and later health problems.

Our consortium analyzes epigenetic modifications from the abovementioned cohorts, assessing whether common biological signals characterize early exposure to metabolic and psychological stress, affecting the long-lasting expression and methylation of genes involved in depression, obesity, and immune-metabolic function. We propose to use the ALSPAC data to compare and validate the findings from our consortium-generated data, in a larger/complementary context.

Impact of research: 
Major depression constitutes an enormous medical, individual, societal and economical challenge (depression afflicts up to 10-15% of the population worldwide). Despite extensive investigations, the exact mechanisms responsible for depression have not been identified, and current therapeutics are based on serendipitous discoveries rather than on bench-to-bedside, targeted drug discovery. In addition, although clinically efficient antidepressant drugs do exist, they show high treatment-resistance rates, slow onset of action, side effects, and drug–drug interactions. Currently, there is a clear consensus that early adverse experiences can impinge upon stress/metabolic pathways to coordinate body responses, increasing adult individual susceptibility for mental disorders such as depression. By carrying out the EMBED project, the consortium aims to advance this field of research by studying in more depth the links between pre-natal stresses and post-natal epigenetic modification, and by doing so, potentially enable preventive measures in risk populations, new diagnostics and new therapeutic approaches - for example by nutritional strategies reducing neuroinflammatory mechanisms implemented in the offspring.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 2 April, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 7 April, 2021
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Obesity, Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, Statistical methods, major depression, mental disorders, obesity, prenatal, metabolic stress, psychosocial stress

B3752 - What are the antecedents of multiple adolescent cancer risk behaviours - 01/04/2021

B number: 
B3752
Principal applicant name: 
Caroline Wright | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Jon Heron, Paul Okediji
Title of project: 
What are the antecedents of multiple adolescent cancer risk behaviours?
Proposal summary: 

This project will explore the predictors of multiple cancer risk behaviours in adolescence.

Impact of research: 
Successful completion of an MSc dissertation, possible peer-reviewed paper
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 29 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 1 April, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Statistical methods, Birth outcomes, BMI, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Contraception, Physical - activity, fitness, function

B3754 - The relationship between timing of menarche and risky behaviours in early adulthood - 01/04/2021

B number: 
B3754
Principal applicant name: 
Carol Joinson | Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School
Co-applicants: 
Caroline Wright, Rose Hawes
Title of project: 
The relationship between timing of menarche and risky behaviours in early adulthood
Proposal summary: 

There is some evidence that girls who experience an earlier onset of menarche than their peers are at greater risk of engaging in a range of risky behaviours in adolescence such as: early initiation of sexual activity; substance use, and antisocial behaviour. Early maturing girls' more mature physical appearance and tendency to affiliate with older peer groups could expose them to increased opportunities for risk taking. It is unclear, however, if the relationship between early timing of menarche and increased risky behaviours persists into later adolescence and early adulthood.

Impact of research: 
Risky behaviours are associated with long term adverse outcomes for physical and mental health, and educational attainment. Our findings will add to the understanding of the challenges that early maturing girls experience during puberty and could contribute to the evidence base for psychoeducational interventions to prepare young people for puberty.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 30 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 1 April, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, Puberty

B3744 - Almost exact Mendelian randomisation - 08/04/2021

B number: 
B3744
Principal applicant name: 
Kate Tilling | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Mr Matthew Tudball, Dr Qingyuan Zhao
Title of project: 
Almost exact Mendelian randomisation
Proposal summary: 

Mendelian randomisation (MR) is an epidemiological design which uses the allocation of genes from parents to children as a random source of variation in exposures of interest. To perform MR exactly, we need genetic data on children and one or both of their parents. Due to ease of data collection, however, MR has typically been performed using data from unrelated individuals. As family data becomes more widely available, there has been renewed interest in a better within-family method for MR. Our project involves the development of an (almost) exact test for MR which is explicitly based on the randomisation of genes from parents to children. We are using ALSPAC to demonstrate our new method using real data. In particular, we aim to explore the effect of childhood BMI on systolic blood pressure and risk of diabetes in adulthood, which was recently explored using the UK Biobank cohort (Richardson et al, 2020).

Impact of research: 
As an exact approach to statistical inference, we hope that our method will be the gold standard approach for within-family MR and receive wide uptake among practitioners.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 18 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 1 April, 2021
Keywords: 
Statistics/methodology, Hypertension, Obesity, DNA sequencing, Statistical methods, BMI, Genetic epidemiology, Mendelian randomisation, Statistical methods

B3753 - Risk behaviours for cancer in adolescence and young adulthood a qualitative analysis - 11/05/2021

B number: 
B3753
Principal applicant name: 
Caroline Wright | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Prof. Rona Campbell, Dr Laura Tinner, Dr Ruth Kipping, Ruth Bartlett
Title of project: 
Risk behaviours for cancer in adolescence and young adulthood: a qualitative analysis
Proposal summary: 

We conducted a quantitative analysis of ALSPAC participants to investigate patterns of multiple cancer risk behaviours across adolescence (11-18 years) and their associations with future cancer risk behaviours in early adulthood (24 years). We found there was a very strong association between adolescent and young adult behaviours. While there has been some quantitative work examining the association between adolescent risk profiles and early adult risk, there has been little in the way of qualitative work to explore how young people and/or early adults themselves understand this relationship. Researchers have called for young people to have a stronger voice as key to improving adolescent health, and means being sensitive to young people’s construction of risk behaviour. As such, this qualitative study attempts to address this gap in the literature.

Impact of research: 
An MSc dissertation,
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 29 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 1 April, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Cancer, Obesity, Sexually transmitted diseases, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, Qualitative study, BMI, Physical - activity, fitness, function

B3756 - Evaluation of recording of Long-COVID in whole population databases using linked LPS data - 26/04/2021

B number: 
B3756
Principal applicant name: 
Andy Boyd | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Jonathan Sterne, Nic Timpson, John Macleod, Kate Northstone
Title of project: 
Evaluation of recording of Long-COVID in whole population databases using linked LPS data
Proposal summary: 

Children of the 90s and some other UK longitudinal studies have been approached directly by Sir Patrick Vallance and Sir Chris Whitty to help with understanding the nature of Long-COVID. This is part of the National Core Studies for COVID research that Children of the 90s is playing a major role in. The NHS and government planners need evidence to inform UK NHS strategies for managing this new and complex condition. At this stage the NHS planners are concerned that it is not clear who has Long COVID and if the national data they are working with properly represents the scale of this new and poorly understood condition. In this project we will compare the data of consenting Children of the 90s participants who have reported having Long-COVID with English GP records to determine the level of agreement between the two. If not all Children of the 90s participants can be identified from the GP records alone as having Long-COVID then this may indicate that national estimates of how many people have these symptoms/outcomes may be inaccurate and the scale of the challenge is under-estimated. This will help identify if new GP coding practice is needed, and to determine how best to help people with this form of COVID.

Impact of research: 
A greater understanding as to whether inferences on Long-COVID drawn from whole population GP databases are accurate based on a greater understanding on whether those with Long-COVID are readily identifiable from coded GP data.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 31 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 1 April, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, CoVID-19, Data Linkage, Linkage

B3751 - You are what your mother ate exploring the effects of maternal and paternal Mediterranean diet on childhood health - 01/04/2021

B number: 
B3751
Principal applicant name: 
Kayleigh Easey | Population Health Sciences (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Giulia Mancano, Ms Jessica Minkoff, Dr Gemma Sharp
Title of project: 
You are what your mother ate: exploring the effects of maternal and paternal Mediterranean diet on childhood health
Proposal summary: 

We urgently need better evidence about how our experiences before birth might influence our long-term health. Most research in this area has focused on the diets and lifestyles of pregnant mothers, but the evidence is patchy and health advice offered to pregnant women can be confusing and inconsistent. More recent research suggests that a father's diet and behaviour can influence the health of his unborn children, but very little public health advice is currently offered to fathers-to-be.

Some studies have found that children born to mothers who adhere to a Mediterranean diet (typified by a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, unrefined cereals, fish and olive oil) during pregnancy have better health than their peers. But does this represent a causal effect of Mediterranean diet on offspring health or is it merely correlated due to confounding factors? And what about fathers? Can their adherence to a Mediterranean diet affect their child’s health?

Impact of research: 
Student dissertation, and contribute towards publication in a peer reviewed journal.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 29 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 1 April, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Nutrition - breast feeding, diet

B3743 - Using lifecourse approaches to develop insight into the influence of early life exposures on adverse health outcomes - 16/04/2021

B number: 
B3743
Principal applicant name: 
Jon Heron | MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU) (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Grace Power, George Davey Smith, Tom Richardson
Title of project: 
Using lifecourse approaches to develop insight into the influence of early life exposures on adverse health outcomes
Proposal summary: 
Impact of research: 
We aim to develop a stronger understanding of how neonatal and early life exposures influence disease risk throughout the life course.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 18 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 29 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Infection, Statistical methods, Genetic epidemiology

B3745 - The association of adverse childhood experiences with persistent pain in adolescents analysis of a prospective cohort study - 29/03/2021

B number: 
B3745
Principal applicant name: 
Gwen Fernandes | Population Health Sciences
Co-applicants: 
Professor Laura Howe
Title of project: 
The association of adverse childhood experiences with persistent pain in adolescents: analysis of a prospective cohort study
Proposal summary: 

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood such as experiencing abuse or neglect; witnessing violence at home; or having a family member incarcerated or addicted to substances such as drugs or alcohol. In the UK, 50% of Welsh adults (Public Health Wales 2018) and 47% of English adults (Bellis et al., 2014) have experienced at least one ACE during childhood. The cumulative effect of multiple, overlapping ACEs, have been shown to increase the risk and severity of chronic conditions including cancer, heart disease and chronic pain including musculoskeletal conditions in adults but we do not know what the effects are more immediately, within childhood and adolescence.

One such consequence of early adversity is chronic and persistent pain and significantly impacts quality of life and well-being (Fisher et al., 2016; Caes et al., 2015; IASP ICD 2016). The strongest evidence for an association comes from Groenewald and colleagues (2020) who investigated in a nationally representative sample of over 48,000 American children and found that those with a history of ACEs had an increased risk of chronic pain. The association increased in a dose-dependent manner and was driven by parental substance misuse ACEs and poverty ACEs.

There has been little attention within longitudinal population-based birth cohort studies, such as ALSPAC, exploring the relationship between comprehensively assessed ACEs and pain in children (Nelson et al., 2017). It would be more clinically relevant to identify the specific ACE types that most contribute to pain outcomes. We could use this to better inform intervention strategies for pain management with meaningful clinical and empirical value in children and adolescents with persistent pain conditions.

Impact of research: 
This research will offer insights into the potential mechanism of action between adversity and pain outcomes in children, specifically mediated via mental health profiles. We could use the results generated from ALSPAC to better inform intervention strategies for pain management with meaningful clinical and empirical value in children and adolescents with persistent pain conditions.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 19 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 29 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Pain, Statistical methods, Birth outcomes

B3746 - Associations of prospective and retrospective measures of childhood maltreatment with health outcomes - 29/03/2021

B number: 
B3746
Principal applicant name: 
Ana Goncalves Soares | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Amelia Rice, Laura Howe, Abigail Fraser
Title of project: 
Associations of prospective and retrospective measures of childhood maltreatment with health outcomes
Proposal summary: 

Childhood maltreatment has been consistently associated with poor health outcomes, such as obesity, cardiovascular health, mental health, substance misuse and risky sexual behaviours. There is no gold standard to assess childhood maltreatment, and both prospective and retrospective reports entail potential limitations. A poor agreement has been shown between measures of childhood maltreatment assessed prospectively (usually through parental report and official records) and retrospectively (often self-reported), suggesting that these forms of report of maltreatment identify different groups of individuals. The use of retrospective measures of childhood maltreatment might overestimate the associations with subjectively measured outcomes (e.g. self-reported, such as health behaviours and mental health) and underestimate the associations with objectively measured outcomes (e.g. physical health). However, few studies have information on both prospective and retrospective measures of childhood maltreatment and were able to compared the associations of different types of reports of maltreatment with subjectively and objectively measured health outcomes. This project aims to assess and compare associations of prospectively and retrospectively reported childhood maltreatment with key subjectively and objectively measured health outcomes in early adulthood (e.g. cardiovascular risk factors, mental health, and socioeconomic status).

Impact of research: 
This study will contribute to understanding how different sources of report of childhood maltreatment are associated with health outcomes later in life.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 19 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 29 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity

B3740 - Can parental education compensate childrens genetic disadvantage - 23/03/2021

B number: 
B3740
Principal applicant name: 
Niels Rietveld | Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Co-applicants: 
Teresa Bago d’Uva, Rita Dias Pereira, Fleur Meddens, Dilnoza Muslimova, Hans van Kippersluis, Stephanie von Hinke
Title of project: 
Can parental education compensate children's genetic disadvantage?
Proposal summary: 
Impact of research: 
A better understand of the health-education gradient. The aim is to publish findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 16 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 23 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Health Economics

B3741 - Intergenerational transmission of human capital - 23/03/2021

B number: 
B3741
Principal applicant name: 
Niels Rietveld | Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Co-applicants: 
Teresa Bago d’Uva, Rita Dias Pereira, Fleur Meddens, Dilnoza Muslimova, Hans van Kippersluis, Stephanie von Hinke
Title of project: 
Intergenerational transmission of human capital
Proposal summary: 

Our original proposal, B2492, is about the joint development of health, skills and education. From the start, this involved studying the role of genetic and early-life environmental factors in shaping individuals’ health and education trajectories.

This proposal contributes to one of the key aims of our original project: to better understand the role of genes on human capital formation. On the one hand, recent studies have questioned whether the polygenic score for educational attainment captures only a biological mechanism. The proposal makes it possible to quantify the true underlying mechanisms of skills and education. Understanding this process is fundamental to understanding the health-education gradient. On the other hand, studies have shown that the polygenic score for educational attainment affects not only cognitive but also non-cognitive skills. We wish to understand the mechanisms through which genes affect education: are they mediated by cognitive or non-cognitive skills (or both)?

Unraveling the process of human capital transmission over generations is fundamental to uncover the sources of inequality. Understanding the sources of inequality in turn is crucial to design and justify redistribution policies.

The process of human capital transmission is a widely researched topic in economics and social sciences. Given that parents transmit their genes to their children and expose these children to a particular environment at the same time, it is incredibly challenging to disentangle the pathways through which human capital transmission takes place. Researchers have nonetheless tried to quantify the different channels using either structural equations (Lee & Seshadri, 2019), samples of adoptees (Plug, 2004; Björklund et. al, 2006; Plug & Vijverberg, 2003) or samples of twins (Behrman & Rosenzweig, 2002). These solutions rely either on imposing structural assumptions or on natural experiments that allows us to isolate the nature and nurture effects.

With the recent advances of social science genetics we can now have a direct measure of one’s genetic predisposition for a certain trait. Many researchers have studied the genetic propensity for schooling since schooling is a widely available phenotypic measure, and a common proxy for human capital accumulation. However, studies have shown that the Educational Attainment Polygenic Score (EA PGS) also includes an environmental component: genetic nurture (Koellinger & Harden, 2018; Kong et. al 2018). In particular, by using adoptees (Cheesman et. al, 2020), parental genetic information (Kong et. al 2018) and within-family designs (Selzam et. al, 2019), it is estimated that about 50% of the impact of the EA PGS on education attainment is a pure biological signal with the remainder 50% being genetic nurture.

This research attempts to inform the literature of human capital transmission with a direct measure of the genetic predisposition to schooling. In particular, it is an attempt to unveil and quantify the pathways of human capital transmission as proposed theoretically by Lee & Seshadri (2019). This is possible due to the richness of Alspac data set. In particular, we want to exploit the fact that a) it contains genetic information on the child’s mother and father; b) detailed information on educational achievement of the child and parents; c) detailed information of the parental behavior towards the child.

This research will attempt to quantify 5 channels of human capital transmission:
a) Direct genetic transmission
b) Genetic nurture (of the parents)
c) Parental education
d) Parental income
e) Parental time and good investments

Additional analysis will include a differentiation of the impact of those channels on the cognitive and non-cognitive skills of the children. In fact, research suggests that the EA PGS predicts both cognitive and non-cognitive skills (Alloway et. al 2020; Malanchini et. al 2020; Belsky et. al 2016). This matches research that documents that educational attainment itself is largely explained by personality traits (Borghans et. al 2016).

Impact of research: 
A better understand of the health-education gradient. The aim is to publish findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 16 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 23 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Health Economics

B3742 - Father absence childrens genetic make-up and outcomes - 23/03/2021

B number: 
B3742
Principal applicant name: 
Niels Rietveld | Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Co-applicants: 
Teresa Bago d’Uva, Rita Dias Pereira, Fleur Meddens, Dilnoza Muslimova, Hans van Kippersluis, Stephanie von Hinke
Title of project: 
Father absence, children’s genetic make-up and outcomes
Proposal summary: 

Our original proposal, B2492, is about the joint development of health, skills and education. From the start, this involved studying the role of genetic and early-life environmental factors in shaping individuals’ health and education trajectories.

This proposal fits directly within our aim to study the “interactions between genes and family composition”, focussing on the effects of “interactions between genes and family composition on children’s test scores and health behaviours”. Indeed, parental separation implies a drastic change in the family structure and composition, less time investment, as well as mental and financial distress. This has been shown to have a number of consequences for child mental health outcomes. In this paper, we will quantify the extent to which the effects of father absence on child outcomes are modified by children’s genetic predisposition.

Background: Parent separation has been shown to have a number of consequences for the child mental health outcomes. On the other hand there are a number of studies on the effects of father involvement and paternity leave policy on children. In this paper, we would like to contribute to the literature by showing how the effects of father absence on child outcomes are modified by children’s genetic predisposition for such health outcomes as BMI and depression.

Research Questions: What happens to children’s education and health outcomes after fathers leave family? Does it harm more those with higher genetic risk for mental health issues and risky health behaviours? Are children with higher genetic predisposition for education more resilient to the absence of a father?

Impact of research: 
A better understand of the health-education gradient. The aim is to publish findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 16 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 23 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Health Economics

B3734 - Prediction in the first 1000 days of life of childhood obesity Individual participant analysis of 160000 children - 23/03/2021

B number: 
B3734
Principal applicant name: 
Vincent Jaddoe | Erasmus MC, University Medical Center (Netherlands)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Romy Gaillard, Dr Susana Santos
Title of project: 
Prediction in the first 1000 days of life of childhood obesity Individual participant analysis of 160,000 children
Proposal summary: 
Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 10 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 23 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Obesity, Statistical methods, BMI

B3747 - Neighbourhood conditions and anxiety and depression during lockdown - 29/03/2021

B number: 
B3747
Principal applicant name: 
Joanne Newbury | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Connor Pinkney, Prof Stan Zammit
Title of project: 
Neighbourhood conditions and anxiety and depression during lockdown
Proposal summary: 

The Covid-19 lockdown has underscored the role that neighbourhoods play in mental health and wellbeing. Neighbourhood characteristics like overcrowding, greenspace, deprivation, and social fragmentation create very different lockdown experiences, even between neighbours living streets apart. This project will investigate the role of neighbourhood conditions in mental health during the covid-19 lockdown. First, we will examine associations of urbanicity, greenspace, deprivation, and social fragmentation with participants’ symptoms of anxiety and depression during and after lockdown. Second, we will control analyses comprehensively for confounds such as poverty using propensity score matching. Third, we will examine the interplay between neighbourhood conditions and individual-level factors including age, housing, household composition and garden access in terms of mental health responses to lockdown.

Impact of research: 
Improved understanding of the inequalities in mental health consequences of the pandemic and lockdown, and novel data on the role of neighbourhood conditions in mental health during crisis events.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 22 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 23 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Environment - enviromental exposure, pollution

B3739 - Prevalence of ideal cardiovascular health in preschoolers early determinants and associations with neurodevelopment - 29/03/2021

B number: 
B3739
Principal applicant name: 
HEUDE | INSERM (France) (France)
Co-applicants: 
EMPANA Jean-Philippe, Dr, TAFFLET Muriel, Mrs, CLIMIE Rachel, Dr, CHARLES Marie-Aline,Dr
Title of project: 
Prevalence of ideal cardiovascular health in preschoolers, early determinants and associations with neurodevelopment
Proposal summary: 

In the context of the concept of primordial prevention, a score of ideal cardiovascular health has been defined by the American Heart Association (Lloyd Jones et al. 2010). In adults, a higher score as been associated to a Incident Cardiovascular Events, lower Cognitive Decline and Incident Dementia (van Sloten et al. 2018; Samieri et al. 2018). This score relies on the combination of “ideal” values for 7 metrics from cardiometabolic health and behaviours. Ideal values will be defined as recommended values from previous studies and/or from internal thresholds. The list of the 7 metrics entering the score is as follows: Body mass index, physical activity, healthy diet, smoking, blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose, total cholesterol. Two sub-scores can be computed, one from the behavioural components (BMI, physical activity, diet and smoking), and the other from the clinical and biological components (blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol).

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 16 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 22 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Blood pressure, BMI, Cardiovascular, Cognition - cognitive function, Development, Nutrition - breast feeding, diet, Physical - activity, fitness, function

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