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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B4565 - Investigating the Influence of Problem Gambling and Socioeconomic Factors on Suicidality and Negative Mental Health - 03/04/2024

B number: 
B4565
Principal applicant name: 
Anya Skatova | University of Bristol, Bristol Medical School (PHS), MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Mr Oliver Bastiani, Dr Philip Newall, Dr Romana Burgess
Title of project: 
Investigating the Influence of Problem Gambling and Socioeconomic Factors on Suicidality and Negative Mental Health
Proposal summary: 

Recent analysis of longitudinal cohort studies suggests that problem gambling in young adults is associated with subsequent suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts. Our study proposes to replicate these findings in a new cohort (ALSPAC), and expand upon the existing research by investigating whether socioeconomic status factors interact with these relationships, if they exist. Socioeconomic factors are associated with problem gambling and suicidality, but little is known about whether they interact to increase the risk of suicidality. We also hope to investigate if other gambling factors, such as gambling frequency, predict suicidality, as well as investigating if gambling behaviour predicts other negative mental health outcomes, such as self-harm, depressive mood and negative well-being. As problem gambling and suicidality are both public health issues, especially amongst young adults in the UK, understanding the relationships and mechanisms of these problems is important. It is hoped that this research can reveal potential negative mental-health consequences of problem gambling and help identify populations who may be at specific risk of these negative consequences, such as those with lower socioeconomic status. Thus, evidence from this study may inform gambling reduction or suicide prevention strategies to improve their effectiveness and improve the lives of those who may be at risk of gambling problems or suicide.

Impact of research: 
We aim to publish the results of this research in a peer-reviewed journal. It is hoped that these results can be used to inform future problem gambling interventions if we find associations between problem gambling and negative mental health outcomes. Also, if we find associations between the interactions of problem gambling and socioeconomic status and suicidality, we hope that such results can help inform the effectiveness of suicide prevention measures by identifying populations which may be at specific risk. Ultimately, we hope that the impact of this research will improve population health by reducing problem gambling and suicidality.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 28 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 3 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Mental health, Statistical methods, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Environment - enviromental exposure, pollution, Social science, Statistical methods, Gambling, Suicidality, Mental Health

B4576 - Investigating the contributions of fetal and maternal genetic variation associated with GDF15 levels in Hyperemesis Gravidarum - 29/04/2024

B number: 
B4576
Principal applicant name: 
Rachel Freathy | University of Exeter (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Oceana Leigh, Dr. Aminata Cissé, Dr. Robin Beaumont
Title of project: 
Investigating the contributions of fetal and maternal genetic variation, associated with GDF15 levels, in Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Proposal summary: 

References to previously published work in the summary below are given as PubMed IDs.
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (NVP) is estimated to occur in around 70% of women globally, with 1.1% of women estimated to experience severe cases, diagnosed as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) (PMID: 23863575). HG is associated with dehydration and weight loss, which can result in hospitalisation and have significant detrimental effects for both mother and fetus. These include increased risk of morbidity, placental complications, small for gestational age birth, maternal psychological distress and increased risk of developmental delay for offspring (PMID: 35367190, PMID: 25898368, PMID: 23360164, PMID: 33713683, PMID: 21413857) .
A recent study (PMID: 38092039) made great progress in understanding a major cause of NVP and HG. Using a variety of analyses, especially of human genetic data, the authors showed that maternal sensitivity to a protein released from the placenta called growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15), is key causal risk factor. This finding was exciting as it suggested avenues for future research into prevention or treatment. Evidence for the role of GDF15 included associations of variants (single letter changes in the DNA code) in the GDF15 gene region with both risk of NVP or HG, and with GDF15 levels in the blood (PMID: 35218128, PMID:29563502, PMID: 38092039). The finding that women who have naturally low levels of GDF15 are more sensitive to the GDF15 released from the placenta and more susceptible to NVP and HG, raised the possibility that a fetal genetic variants which increase GDF15 production may also influence HG or NVP risk. There was some evidence in a small sample that the genotype of the fetus, relative to the mother, may be associated with the proportion of fetal-placental derived GDF15 contributing to circulating GDF15, potentially mediating experiences of nausea and vomiting (PMID: 38092039). However, analyses of maternal and fetal genotype data in well powered samples are needed to confirm this, which is the focus of our proposed project. We aim to explore the maternal and fetal genetic contributions of genetic variants to nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

Impact of research: 
Advancing understanding on the relationship between maternal and fetal genotypes in their contributions to nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Contribute to the evidence-base around hyperemesis gravidarum and nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, which could be utilised to identify new predictive biomarkers for early screening or new targets for treatment. We expect this work to result in at least one high impact publication.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 20 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 3 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), hyperemesis gravidarum, nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, Statistical methods, nausea, vomiting, hyperemesis, pregnancy, genetics

B4575 - Adverse health outcomes in offspring following in utero exposure to maternal medication - 12/04/2024

B number: 
B4575
Principal applicant name: 
Michael Fleming | School of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow. (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Ahmed Aldakhil, Professor Daniel Mackay, Professor Jill Pell
Title of project: 
Adverse health outcomes in offspring following in utero exposure to maternal medication
Proposal summary: 

Pregnancy is a vulnerable period when the foetus undergoes rapid development; therefore, exposure to adverse risk factors can have lifelong implications. Use of medicines during pregnancy is avoided where possible but is sometimes unavoidable. Whilst acute adverse effects following foetal exposure in utero have been assessed for several medicines, possible longer-term effects are not well understood. In particular, their effect on dental and oral outcomes is poorly understood. Using ALSPAC health data will enable us to do novel research to improve our understanding of the effects of taking medication during pregnancy on the child’s oral and dental health and development.

Impact of research: 
Demonstration of adverse associations or failure to demonstrate adverse associations would both be informative to clinicians and pregnant women in terms of caution or reassurance regarding use of the specific drugs during pregnancy.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 20 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 27 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Congenital abnormalities, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Statistical methods, Birth outcomes, Development, Dental, Growth, Offspring, Statistical methods

B4577 - Policy engagement project to address Areas of Research Interest of Bristol City Council - 29/03/2024

B number: 
B4577
Principal applicant name: 
Sarah Sullivan | University of Bristol (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Ms Rhiannon Wilson, Dr Jo Williams
Title of project: 
Policy engagement project to address Areas of Research Interest of Bristol City Council
Proposal summary: 

A link between ALSPAC and Bristol City Council (BCC) is needed to ensure that ALSPAC findings can be translated into useful policymaking evidence for Bristol City Council. The link will enable a sustainable infrastructure to be set up to ensure that BCC is aware of the level of evidence that ALSPAC is able to provide on priority health issues and BCC is able to make ALSPAC aware of issues that they would like evidence on. The data to answer these policy questions might already be in the data repository or it might require new funding applications to provide this evidence.

Impact of research: 
The impact of these exercise could be very large. It will the first time that there has been open and two way conversation with stakeholders at BCC who commission public health policy in Bristol.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 21 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 26 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Potentially this project might use all or any of the health data included in ALSPAC, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc.

B4572 - Does climate anxiety impact subsequent mental health - 26/03/2024

B number: 
B4572
Principal applicant name: 
Dan Major-Smith | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Dr Isaac Halstead, Mrs Katie Major-Smith
Title of project: 
Does climate anxiety impact subsequent mental health?
Proposal summary: 

Climate change is increasingly affecting our planet, impacting people’s health, security and livelihood, as well as wider biodiversity. Given this, it is perhaps not surprising that many studies have identified ‘climate anxiety’ (or ‘eco-anxiety’) as an emotional response to these events. Numerous studies have found that anxiety regarding climate change is associated with worse mental health, such as higher rates of depressive and anxiety symptoms, although the majority of these studies are small, cross-sectional and from unrepresentative samples, limiting both generalisability and the extent to which causal conclusions can be drawn. There is therefore a need to explore these questions using data from a large-scale longitudinal population-based study; this is what we intend to do here, using data from ALSPAC.

Impact of research: 
By exploring climate anxiety in this longitudinal setting, we hope to inform the debate on climate anxiety and inform potential intervention efforts (e.g., if climate anxiety does not cause mental health, then it would be better to target the root mental health problems rather than climate anxiety to improve population mental health).
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 26 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 26 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health

B4573 - Using statistical and machine learning approaches to predict bone health from physical activity measured with accelerometers - 26/03/2024

B number: 
B4573
Principal applicant name: 
Louise Millard | Department of Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School
Co-applicants: 
Dr Gemma Clayton, Professor Jon Tobias, Zhousiying Wu
Title of project: 
Using statistical and machine learning approaches to predict bone health from physical activity measured with accelerometers
Proposal summary: 

Weight bearing physical activity is known to be beneficial for bone health. Predicting future bone health from accelerometer data may be useful to inform targeted interventions. We will use machine learning and statistical approaches to determine the extent to which bone health can be predicted from physical activity measured with accelerometers.

Impact of research: 
This study will improve understanding of the extent that bone health can be predicted from objectively measured physical activity data, and of the types of activity features that are most predictive of subsequent bone health in adolescence.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 20 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 26 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Statistics/methodology, Bone disorders - arthritis, osteoporosis, Statistical methods, Machine learning methods, Bones (and joints), Physical - activity, fitness, function

B4574 - Epigenome-wide association study of exposure to air pollution and NDVI - 26/03/2024

B number: 
B4574
Principal applicant name: 
Ana Goncalves Soares | IEU, University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Sarah Watkins
Title of project: 
Epigenome-wide association study of exposure to air pollution and NDVI
Proposal summary: 

Changes in DNA methylation have been associated with exposure to air pollution and other environmental exposures. However, it is yet unclear whether early life developmental sensitivity or the accumulation of exposures have the most significant effects.
This study will analyse the association of air pollution and normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) with DNA methylation at different ages.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 20 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 26 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Molecular genetics and genomics, DNA methylation, DNA sequencing, Epigenetics

B4578 - Genome-Wide Association Study of Blood Pressure and the influence of education - 26/03/2024

B number: 
B4578
Principal applicant name: 
Marisa Canadas Garre | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Nicholas Timpson, Dr Laura Corbin
Title of project: 
Genome-Wide Association Study of Blood Pressure and the influence of education
Proposal summary: 

The Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium is an international organization founded to facilitate large-scale genetic studies among multiple large and well-characterised groups of participants.

The goal of the CHARGE studies is to identify susceptibility genes involved in diseases of the heart, lung, and blood and their risk factors.
In our study, we will analyse the association of gene variants with blood pressure, considering the effect of the educational level in ALSPAC participants. The results will be combined with results from other groups of participants around the world to be able to identify new gene variants that help understand the biology of blood pressure.

Impact of research: 
Greater understanding of the aetiology of blood pressure. This study will help identify novel genetic variants involved in blood pressure and how genetic variants affect these traits considering potential interactions with educational attainment.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 22 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 26 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Hypertension, Obesity, Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, Gene mapping, GWAS, Metabolomics, Statistical methods, Biological samples -e.g. blood, cell lines, saliva, etc., Biomarkers - e.g. cotinine, fatty acids, haemoglobin, etc., Metabolic - metabolism, Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc., Statistical methods, Blood pressure, BMI, Cardiovascular, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Genetic epidemiology, Genetics, Genomics, Genome wide association study

B4566 - Transgenerational influence of parental cardiometabolic health and depressive symptoms on child development - 10/04/2024

B number: 
B4566
Principal applicant name: 
Jian Huang | Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) (Singapore)
Co-applicants: 
Prof Dennis Wang, Dr Michelle Kee, Ms Jinyi Che, Ms Ai Ling Teh, Ms Pei Fang Tan, Dr Pan Hong, Dr Evelyn Lau, Dr Candida Vaz, Dr Varsha Gupta, Dr Priti Mishra
Title of project: 
Transgenerational influence of parental cardiometabolic health and depressive symptoms on child development
Proposal summary: 

Over the past three decades, there has been a substantial increase in the prevalence of mental disorders, which remain a leading cause of disease burden worldwide. Mental disorders in adulthood are found associated with poorer overall health and quality of life. Cardiometabolic mechanisms have been implicated in mental illness. For example, overweight and obese individuals are also more likely to be diagnosed with mental illness. Furthermore, perinatal depression and anxiety in mothers can influence offspring's cardiometabolic health and neurodevelopment. However, the effectiveness of parental interventions to improve offspring’s health outcomes is not conclusively established. Given these gaps in knowledge, the transgenerational effects of parental health warrant a more comprehensive investigation. In this project, we will use the ALSPAC cohort to investigate the transgenerational effects of parental cardiometabolic and mental health on offspring’s development. We will also investigate potential mediating pathways via early-life environmental and molecular mechanisms. This project will contribute to identifying potential targets for intervention and critical windows for interventions.

Impact of research: 
Given that parental cardiometabolic health and depressive symptoms may influence offspring’s development via both genetic transmission and genetic nurture, it is crucial to identify potential targets for intervention and critical windows for interventions. Our project will be able to provide insight into both by constructing parental genetic risk scores. By investigating paternal genetic risk, we will also be able to elucidate the role of paternal factors, which are often neglected. In addition, by investigating potential mediating mechanisms via early-life environmental factors, epigenetics metabolomics, and proteomics, this project will be able to provide insight into interventions targeting lifestyle behaviours and nutrition supplements. A better understanding of how multi-omic mechanisms are responsible for early-life cardiometabolic and neurocognitive health may also inform drug development for relevant health conditions in later life. Ultimately, this project has a high translational potential for the improvement of children’s development and its impacts may extend to general health in adulthood.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 12 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 25 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Developmental disorders - autism, Cancer, Cognitive impairment, Diabetes, Learning difficulty, Mental health, Obesity, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Speech/language problem, Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, Metabolomics, Microarrays, NMR, Proteomics, RNA, Statistical methods, Ageing, Biomarkers - e.g. cotinine, fatty acids, haemoglobin, etc., Expression, Fathers, Genetic epidemiology, Genetics, Genomics, Growth, Immunity, Intelligence - memory, Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc., Neurology, Birth outcomes, Nutrition - breast feeding, diet, Offspring, Parenting, Physical - activity, fitness, function, Puberty, Sex differences, Speech and language, Statistical methods, Blood pressure, BMI, Cardiovascular, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Cognition - cognitive function, Development, Epigenetics

B4569 - The changing digital world and its impact on youth emotional problems - 29/03/2024

B number: 
B4569
Principal applicant name: 
Jessica Armitage | Cardiff University
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
The changing digital world and its impact on youth emotional problems
Proposal summary: 

Over the past three decades, adolescent emotional problems have risen at an alarmingly rate. One of the biggest changes in young people’s lives over the last few decades has been the parallel rise in digital media use, however, implications for trends in youth mental health remain unclear. Efforts to understand the role of digital media in relation to youth mental health have so far been limited by retrospective self-reports. One way to advance our understanding of digital media is to use ecological momentary assessments (EMA). EMA is a research method that involves real time reports in a real world setting. As such, it provides more objective and fine-grained data about both time and type of digital media use. The current project will test whether built-in features of a smartphone, as well as EMA, can be used to complement our understanding of digital media use among children and adolescents, and the possible impact this may be having on their emotional problems.

Impact of research: 
This work will significantly advance our understanding of how young people are engaging with digital media through their smartphone devices. Such knowledge is important for determining both the positive and negative aspects of digital media, and could be used to inform guidance for policymakers aimed at reducing the potential for harm through digital media. The research will also provide an account of the feasibility of using built-in features of a smartphone alongside ecological momentary assessments among children and adolescents. We plan to publish guidelines and reports to support future research using these methods.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 13 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 18 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc.

B4559 - Gambling behaviour and neurodiversity - 18/03/2024

B number: 
B4559
Principal applicant name: 
Tim Morris | UCL (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
Gambling behaviour and neurodiversity
Proposal summary: 

Previous research has shown that harms associated with gambling are wide-ranging, including harms to the individual who gambles and harms to those close to them such as family, friends and colleagues. Gambling harms can manifest in financial, relationship, mental health and cultural problems, impacting individuals across a range of domains. There is evidence that gambling harms affect different groups disproportionately, placing the highest burden on those that are already marginalised and increasing social, economic and health inequalities across society. Despite evidence of this disproportionate experience of gambling harms, there has only recently been a shift in the focus of research away from a ‘catch all’ approach to a focus on the intersections with other harms and inequalities. One major intersection of gambling harm risk is neurodiversity. In this project, we will use data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) to investigate the experience of gambling harms by individuals who are neurodiverse and explore how these differ to those experienced by neurotypical individuals.

Impact of research: 
Potential impact upon understanding of gambling harms amongst underrepresented groups that can impact gambling treatment provision.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 6 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 18 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity

B4562 - Exploring associations between psychotic experiences and religious beliefs and behaviours - 18/03/2024

B number: 
B4562
Principal applicant name: 
Daniel Major-Smith | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Grace Obo, Dr Isaac Halstead, Dr Hannah Jones
Title of project: 
Exploring associations between psychotic experiences and religious beliefs and behaviours
Proposal summary: 

Psychotic experiences, such as hallucinations or delusions, are associated with numerous negative health outcomes. Previous work suggests a potential relationship between psychotic experiences and religious beliefs and behaviours, which may moderate or mediate associations between psychotic experiences and negative health outcomes, yet findings are contradictory and high-quality studies are rare. We therefore plan to use ALSPAC data to explore these relationships in more detail.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 7 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 18 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Cognition - cognitive function

B4563 - A life course approach to the relationship between adverse childhood events and later mental health - 18/03/2024

B number: 
B4563
Principal applicant name: 
Dan Major-Smith | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Huong Tran, My Jimmy Morgan
Title of project: 
A life course approach to the relationship between adverse childhood events and later mental health
Proposal summary: 

Adverse childhood events (ACEs) are a known cause of subsequent negative health and social outcomes, such as mental health problems. However, the life course trajectory of these ACEs on subsequent mental health – e.g., whether they are felt immediately, take years to manifest or persist over time – is not clear. We plan on using longitudinal ACEs data in ALSPAC to answer this question.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 7 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 18 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity

B4570 - Centre for Longitudinal Smart Data CLSD -- Unlocking the Potential Pioneering Smart Data Integration For Health Research - 12/04/2024

B number: 
B4570
Principal applicant name: 
Anya Skatova | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Dr Romana Burgess, Dr Neo Poon
Title of project: 
Centre for Longitudinal Smart Data (CLSD) -- Unlocking the Potential: Pioneering Smart Data Integration For Health Research
Proposal summary: 

Led by Universities of Bristol, Edinburgh and University College London, and in collaboration with academic, industry and government partners from across the UK, the Centre aims to dramatically improve understanding of health and wellbeing by revolutionising how researchers can use and access data.

The rise of the internet and digital technologies such as mobile phones and wearable technology like smart watches over the last few decades has meant that more data than ever before has been collected about us. This data can reveal important information about who we are and what we do. These types of data are called Smart Data. Historically, much of the data used by researchers into how our actions and behaviours might affect our health and wellbeing has been collected through studies called Longitudinal Population Studies (LPSs). These studies typically run for many decades, and follow the same individuals through the course of their lives which can show how behaviours and health change over a long period of time. The methods for collecting information in LPSs do not normally use Smart Data, and most major studies of this type began before it was available. Both Smart Data and LPS data can provide different types of vital information about how our actions can affect our health, but these two types of data are not often joined up. Our Centre aims to integrate Smart Data into LPSs and will enable researchers to understand and answer questions about health and wellbeing that were previously unattainable through separate efforts.

The Centre will support bringing together Smart Data derived from our everyday interactions with digital services—such as shopping records, wearable sensors, environmental data, banking, and apps—together with the rich Longitudinal Population Studies’ data linked to health and other administrative data in the UK Longitudinal Linkage Collaboration (UK LLC) Trusted Research Environment, supporting cutting edge research for public good. Our ultimate objective is to seamlessly integrate Smart Data into the UK's Longitudinal Population Studies (LPS, or Studies) and make it available to researchers with other key datasets, thereby establishing a pioneering Centre for Longitudinal Smart Data. Through this innovative approach, we will create a platform that will allow scientists to uncover fresh perspectives on lifelong health and wellbeing, enriching our comprehension of people’s health, behaviours and how they change over time. This novel approach holds the potential to transform how we understand and address societal and health challenges.

Our initiative tackles various challenges concerning participant acceptance, ethical considerations, legal frameworks, and beyond. With participants' consent as a cornerstone, the Centre for Longitudinal Smart Data is designed to offer secure access to a diverse range of research-ready Smart Data for authorised researchers. Through close collaboration with study participant advisory groups, we ensure that the use of Smart Data aligns with the preferences and priorities of the participants themselves. This approach prioritises transparency, accountability, and respect for individual choices, fostering a culture of responsible data usage and research ethics.

The Centre establishes a Community of Practice, bringing together experts to tackle the hurdles linked to individual-level Smart Data within the UK's Longitudinal Population Studies. It will strive to foster opportunities for studies across various domains, including wellbeing, health, sustainability, productivity, and digital society.

Impact of research: 
The impact of our research will be transformative, as we aim to create a benchmark for integrating Smart Data into Longitudinal Population Studies (LPSs), forever changing how societal and health challenges are understood and addressed. By providing researchers with unprecedented insights into lifelong health and wellbeing, our approach will inform evidence-based policymaking, drive improvements in public health, and foster innovation. Through the development of novel frameworks, the creation of research-ready data banks, publications, engagement and training opportunities, and proof-of-concept studies, our research has the potential to significantly advance scientific knowledge in the field of Smart Data linkages.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 14 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 18 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology

B4560 - Comparing approaches combining multiple imputation with inverse probability weighting - 18/03/2024

B number: 
B4560
Principal applicant name: 
Dan Major-Smith | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Dr Paul Madley-Dowd, Dr Rachael Hughes, Dr Apostolos Gkatzionis, Dr Gemma Clayton, Prof Jon Heron, Prof Kate Tilling
Title of project: 
Comparing approaches combining multiple imputation with inverse probability weighting
Proposal summary: 

Missing data - such as from loss-to-follow-up in longitudinal studies - can lead to bias in analyses, resulting in incorrect conclusions. Various methods have been developed to try and account for such bias due to missing data; two common approaches are Multiple Imputation (MI), where missing data are imputed numerous times, analysed and then combined together, and Inverse-Probability Weighting (IPW), where individuals with observed data are weighted so they represent the original sample. However, sometimes these approaches are insufficient by themselves - e.g., MI may not be appropriate when imputing large swathes of missingness due to potential model misspecification/increased noise, while IPW is more challenging when there is missing data in the covariates of the missingness/weighting model. Given this, there is a need to develop and explore methods which combine MI and IPW to maximise the strengths and minimise the limitations of each approach. While previous work in this area has been conducted, the current approaches cannot easily be applied to complex real-world data such as in ALSPAC and need to be combined to increase their utility to applied researchers (e.g., using MI to impute missing baseline covariate data in the IPW weighting model, followed by IPW to weight participants within a given 'block' of data, then MI again to impute missing data in the substantive analysis model).

Impact of research: 
Hopefully provide a novel methodology for researchers analysing longitudinal datasets which combines the strengths of both MI and IPW.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 6 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 18 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Statistics/methodology, Mental health, Statistical methods, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Statistical methods

B4561 - Association of birth weight centiles with infant and childhood growth dynamics - 18/03/2024

B number: 
B4561
Principal applicant name: 
Ahmed Elhakeem | MRC IEU
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
Association of birth weight centiles with infant and childhood growth dynamics
Proposal summary: 

The fetal and developmental origins of disease hypothesis suggests that pre-conception (maternal and paternal) and intrauterine (maternal) prenatal factors can influence postnatal health, including growth and adiposity. Birth weight is a marker of intrauterine growth and has been associated with risk of overweight and obesity, as have preterm birth, and small and large for gestational age. To the best of our knowledge, no study has investigated the association between continuous birthweight (for gestational age) centiles beyond the traditional thresholds for small or large for gestational age and longitudinal growth throughout infancy and childhood. This study will address this evidence gap.

Impact of research: 
This will provide evidence on growth patterns based on birth size at a given gestational age. It will use novel growth modelling methods that will be valuable to researchers
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 6 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 18 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Obesity, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Statistical methods, BMI, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Growth

B4568 - Genome-wide association study of reproductive hormones - 18/03/2024

B number: 
B4568
Principal applicant name: 
Ahmed Elhakeem | MRC IEU
Co-applicants: 
Abigail Fraser, Cecilia Lindgren
Title of project: 
Genome-wide association study of reproductive hormones
Proposal summary: 

Infertility, defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy within 12 months of regular unprotected sexual intercourse, affects one in six couples across the globe. A range of environmental and genetic factors may drive infertility, including the age-related decline of sperm and oocyte quality and quantity, infectious diseases, and rare Mendelian disorders such as cystic fibrosis. However, the exact cause remains undetermined in up to 28% of couples and 40% of women with infertility. Given that current treatments such as in vitro fertilisation pose physical, emotional, and financial burdens on couples and healthcare systems, a richer understanding of the biology and pathophysiology of infertility is urgently necessary. This project will conduct a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in ALSPAC and other participating cohorts. In addition, the project will conduct a GWAS of infertility (not in ALSPAC).

Impact of research: 
Novel findings on important health outcomes
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 12 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 18 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Endocrinology, Fertility/infertility, GWAS, Biomarkers - e.g. cotinine, fatty acids, haemoglobin, etc., Genetic epidemiology

B4571 - ART-HEALTH Conception by assisted reproductive technologies and offspring health - 18/03/2024

B number: 
B4571
Principal applicant name: 
Ahmed Elhakeem | MRC IEU
Co-applicants: 
Prof Deborah Lawlor, Dr Naixue Cue
Title of project: 
ART-HEALTH: Conception by assisted reproductive technologies and offspring health
Proposal summary: 

Infertility affects 1 in 6 couples. With increasing numbers of assisted reproductive technology (ART) conceptions, understanding the effects of ART on maternal and offspring health has been designated a major research priority. Research to date has been highlighted as having limited quality and lacking methodological transparency. In ART-HEALTH we use a robust, systematic approach of triangulating different sources of evidence to address this.

Impact of research: 
The project will provide high quality evidence on the health of people born after ART. The findings can establish if offspring born by ART should be followed more closely by medical personnel. The project will provide evidence-based guidelines and recommendations for healthcare providers, reproductive specialists, and legislators to ensure their optimal well-being and long-term health.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 15 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 18 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Fertility/infertility, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., NMR, Birth outcomes, Blood pressure, BMI, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Genetic epidemiology, Growth, Mendelian randomisation

B4548 - Intergenerational education persistence and aspirations - 13/03/2024

B number: 
B4548
Principal applicant name: 
Hans van Kippersluis | Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands)
Co-applicants: 
Xinmiao Zhang
Title of project: 
Intergenerational education persistence and aspirations
Proposal summary: 

We try to understand intergenerational inequalities in education. 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. With the recent advances of social science genetics we can now have a direct measure of one’s genetic predisposition for a certain trait. In particular, we want to exploit the fact that ALSPAC contains a) 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 and peer behavior towards the child; c) educational aspirations and social network data.

Jointly, we hope to answer the question to what extent intergenerational inequality is due to genetic transmission, and environmental transmission including the educational aspirations of parents, children and their peers.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 27 February, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 13 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Social Science, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Learning difficulty, Educational development, inequalities, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Cognition - cognitive function, Development, Fathers, Genetics, Intelligence - memory, Offspring, Parenting, Psychology - personality, Puberty

B4567 - Anthropogenic Chemicals and Human Health - Non-invasive Human Biomonitoring Pilot Study - 27/03/2024

B number: 
B4567
Principal applicant name: 
Charlie Monkley | School of Chemistry, University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr. Charlotte Lloyd, Dr. Alix Groom, Professor George Davey Smith, Chimnaz Emrah
Title of project: 
Anthropogenic Chemicals and Human Health - Non-invasive Human Biomonitoring Pilot Study
Proposal summary: 

This project seeks to develop a non-invasive, human biomonitoring method to assess human exposure to anthropogenically sourced chemicals. In our day to day lives, humans are exposed to a mixture of “man-made” chemicals from the materials we touch, the food we eat or air we breathe. Some of these environmental pollutants may persist and accumulate in the human body, with potentially harmful or unknown health implications. Such chemicals may include pesticides, commercial drugs, flame retardants, combustion products of fuels, plasticisers or cosmetic components. Aside from accumulation in the blood, which would require invasive sampling to assess exposure, some of these anthropogenic chemicals can accumulate in human hair or nails. The focus of this pilot study is to develop an extraction procedure, to separate the target chemicals from hair, and optimised analytical approaches for chemical identification and quantification. For this, hair samples are required for method development. There is potential for this developed method to incentivise funding for additional sampling and analysis of a larger study group. A broader biomonitoring survey may provide valuable insight into chemical exposure sources and persistence both temporally and regionally. Monitoring exposure of chemicals with recognised human health implications may also provide new insight into the incidence of illness and disease.

Impact of research: 
The likely outcome from this pilot study is the acquirement of future medical research funding that extends the biomonitoring study to a wider sample set. This could include more samples collected as part of the ALSPAC project. Regional and population scale human biomonitoring studies using hair samples have already been undertaken in Poland, China, Greece, Canada, India and Luxembourg. Hair sampling of cohort studies have identified decreases in anthropogenically sourced contaminants over time, in line with changes in regulations that ban the use of certain chemicals in commercial products or materials. Legacy contaminants may additionally persist in the environment and the body past regulatory changes, especially in a matrix such as hair that acts as a relatively long term sink to other tissues. Occupational exposure has also become apparent for workers in electric waste facilities being exposed to certain organochlorine contaminants used in the waste products. Detection of contaminants in hair also allows for targeted chemical screening of other tissues and blood to give a better representation of the current chemical burden carried by the body. So, although the outcomes from this pilot study are primarily methodological, the future research that this proposal may incentivise could have profound impacts on the way we monitor chemical exposure, whilst adding a valuable data set to the ALSPAC project.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 12 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 13 March, 2024
Keywords: 
Chemical biomonitoring (analytical chemistry), Chemical exposure and bioaccumulation, Mass spectrometry, Environment - enviromental exposure, pollution

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