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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B3833 - Comorbidity of self-harm/suicidal behaviour and substance use in young people - 09/08/2021

B number: 
B3833
Principal applicant name: 
Paul Moran | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Sarah Ledden, Dr Lindsey Hines, Dr Becky Mars, Dr Alexandra Pitman, Prof David Osborn
Title of project: 
Comorbidity of self-harm/suicidal behaviour and substance use in young people
Proposal summary: 

Levels of self-harm and suicide rates are rising among young people. Substance misuse is one of the leading causes of harm in young people. Evidence from population-based longitudinal studies suggests that many young people who self-harm in adolescence do not persist with these behaviours into adulthood, either due to a natural decline in the behaviours or as a result of intervention. Substance use, however, tends to naturally increase into adulthood, reflecting increasing social norms as people reach the legal age of alcohol use. Substance misuse and self-harm are thought to share characteristics, as both can be conceived as behaviour used to cope with difficult underlying emotions but which can both cause serious harm to the self. Indeed, in clinical samples, self-harm and suicidal behaviours are often comorbid, however, there is a lack of research into the co-occurrence of these behaviours among young people living in the community.

In this study, we will describe the comorbidity of self-harm/suicidal behaviour and substance use from age 16 to 24, in order to see how these behaviours and their co-occurrence change over time. We will look at comorbidities between self-harm/suicidal behaviour and alcohol use, cannabis use and use of other illicit drugs.

Impact of research: 
This research will assist in informing the relationship between substance misuse and self-harming/suicidal behaviours across the lifespan, and inform toward improving clinical care and wider preventative measures around their co-occurrence. We will aim to publish this paper in an academic journal, and present findings at a conference relevant to the subject area.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 28 July, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 9 August, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Mental health

B3848 - Investigating the role of BMI and body perception in the development of disordered eating in adolescence - 09/08/2021

B number: 
B3848
Principal applicant name: 
Jon Heron | MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU)
Co-applicants: 
Grace Power, Naomi Warne, Helen Bould
Title of project: 
Investigating the role of BMI and body perception in the development of disordered eating in adolescence
Proposal summary: 

In this project we plan to use longitudinal observational data and human genetics to examine the relationship and discordances between BMI and both perceived and desired body size in a sample of pre-pubertal children. We additionally want to understand the association between BMI and body image dissatisfaction (BID) (the difference between perceived and desired body size) in childhood and disordered eating and self-harm in adolescence. Finally, we are interested in the mechanisms by which BMI and BID affect disordered eating and self-harm.

Impact of research: 
Publication/thesis
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 5 August, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 9 August, 2021
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Eating disorders - anorexia, bulimia, BMI

B3843 - What are smoking initiation SNPs capturing Exploring pleiotropy in genetic analyses of smoking-related exposures - 09/08/2021

B number: 
B3843
Principal applicant name: 
Zoe Reed | University of Bristol (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Marcus Munafò, Professor George Davey Smith, Dr Jasmine Khouja, Dr Robyn Wootton, Dr Thomas Richardson
Title of project: 
What are “smoking initiation SNPs” capturing? Exploring pleiotropy in genetic analyses of smoking-related exposures
Proposal summary: 

Recent studies have suggested that genetic variants associated with smoking behaviours may actually be influencing outcomes such as risk taking behaviours. This may pose a problem for analyses which assume that these genetic variants are associated with smoking behaviours and not with other outcomes. Therefore, it is important to ascertain whether this is the case. We aim to assess whether genetic variants for smoking behaviours are also associated with other outcomes. We have conducted analyses in a separate cohort (the UK Biobank) which provides evidence to support this. However, we want to replicate analyses to see whether this is also the case in a different sample (ALSPAC) where selection into the UK Biobank might be different in ALSPAC and where we can also test associations in children prior to smoking. Our results will help inform future studies using these genetic variants for smoking behaviours.

Impact of research: 
This research will lead to a better understanding of the genetic influences on smoking behaviours and may help us to understand which measures are better used in different studies if pleiotropic effects are observed.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 2 August, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 9 August, 2021
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Statistical methods, Genetic epidemiology

B3830 - Metabolic subtypes and longitudinal trajectories from childhood to adults - 02/08/2021

B number: 
B3830
Principal applicant name: 
Ville-Petteri Makinen | South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (Australia)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Mika Ala-Korpela
Title of project: 
Metabolic subtypes and longitudinal trajectories from childhood to adults
Proposal summary: 

Understanding how metabolic problems develop is of fundamental interest to the people with age-associated diseases and their families and there is strong community interest in protecting young people from a life-long trajectory towards a diabetic or otherwise metabolically unfavourable future. In recent years, childhood obesity has emerged as an important phenomenon that is projected to increase the number of people with high cardiometabolic risk when the young generations grow old. In the first phase, we will describe how a population of children at risk will eventually develop cardiometabolic risk factors later in their life using unprecedented longitudinal datasets and sophisticated statistical techniques. If additional funding is achieved for the second stage, we will also investigate if the combination of genetics and childhood trajectories of development would allow us to identify the most susceptible individuals and thus ultimately provide the parents with the information that they can use to take preventative action. The lead investigator has developed a statistical framework that allows us to integrate multiple time points and multiple biomarkers simultaneously across partially incomplete datasets. Such a multi-decadal and multi-variable view of metabolic dysfunction is scientifically unique and we also expect to derive novel information about the diversity of metabolic trajectories within real-world human populations. This epidemiological information will be useful for public health policy makers who wish to mitigate the adverse health impacts due to the prevailing obesity-promoting environment. Our study will provide a detailed biochemical fingerprint of the trajectory that carries the highest risk for late-life diseases that can guide nutritional inputs and other life style factors within preventative strategies.

Impact of research: 
The proposed use of the ALSPAC data is an important step towards our ultimate goal of characterizing the development of human metabolism from cradle to grave. The world population is at an inflection point towards an inverted age pyramid where the old outnumber the young. Simultaneously, the world is struggling with the obesity pandemic that is jeopardizing the health of future generations. While animal studies have established the basic biology of aging during an organism's life span, substantial quantitative follow-up data from humans is surprisingly sparse and much of the ageing research is still based on cross-sectional comparisons of old and young individuals. A fully integrated and statistically robust model of the human life span and the diversity of those life spans within real-world populations will produce explicit evidence on who and how is at the greatest risk of specific diseases and overall burden of late-onset morbidity. We maintain that such information will be essential if we are to meet the challenges of ageing populations in the coming decades.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 21 July, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 2 August, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Cancer, Diabetes, Hypertension, Obesity, Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, Metabolomics, Statistical methods, Ageing, Biomarkers - e.g. cotinine, fatty acids, haemoglobin, etc., Metabolic - metabolism, Physical - activity, fitness, function, Sex differences, Statistical methods, Blood pressure, BMI, Cardiovascular, Growth, Hormones - cortisol, IGF, thyroid, Immunity, Kidney function, Liver function

B3838 - Using Instruments for Selection to Adjust for Selection Bias in Mendelian Randomization - 20/08/2021

B number: 
B3838
Principal applicant name: 
Apostolos Gkatzionis | MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Professor Kate Tilling, Dr Kate Northstone, Dr Jon Heron
Title of project: 
Using Instruments for Selection to Adjust for Selection Bias in Mendelian Randomization
Proposal summary: 

Biomedical research is often hindered by the presence of missing data. For example, missing data can occur due to study participants' unwillingness to disclose sensitive information about themselves (e.g. refusing to answer questions related to their mental health, alcohol consumption or drug use). In our research, we develop novel statistical methodologies to account for missing data, using available information on traits that affect a participant's willingness to provide full data but not otherwise affecting the outcome of an applied study. We hope to illustrate our method by using the ALSPAC dataset to estimate the true prevalence of alcoholism, depression, smoking and self-harm, as well as assessing the effects of obesity and education on these traits.

Impact of research: 
This work will showcase our new method to adjust for selection bias. If our method proves to be effective, its use will aid researchers working on applications where selection bias is suspected.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 21 July, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 2 August, 2021
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Addiction, Behaviour, Mental Health, Obesity, (Have selected "other" and listed all appropriate conditions because the list did not allow selecting multiple options), Statistical methods, BMI, Genetic epidemiology, Mendelian randomization, Statistical methods. (Have selected "other" and listed all appropriate conditions because the list did not allow selecting multiple options)

B3835 - How Locus of Control affected well-being during the Pandemic - 19/07/2021

B number: 
B3835
Principal applicant name: 
Yasmin Iles-Caven | University of Bristol (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Jean Golding, Dr. Kate Northstone
Title of project: 
How Locus of Control affected well-being during the Pandemic
Proposal summary: 

ALSPAC has collected information from both the parent and offspring participants during the Covid-19 pandemic on four occasions, asking about changes in behaviour, lifestyle, anxiety, depression, well-being, perceived risk and stress, life events, the ability to cope, financial and food security worries. ALSPAC has already shown that anxiety levels were much higher in the offspring than the parents. Locus of control as conceptualised by Julian Rotter (1966) within his social learning theory is a “generalized problem-solving expectancy” learned in childhood via interactions with parents and through interactions with peers and other adults. Internals (ILOC) and externals (ELOC) have different approaches to solving problems because of their differing learned expectancies about their role in solving them. Internal problem solvers tend to be governed by a learned expectancy that their efforts can affect success or failure in contrast to external problem solvers who depend, for their success, more on luck, fate, chance or powerful others, rather than on their own efforts. We would like to examine the relationship between locus of control (LOC) and if, in particular, a more internal LOC results in increased resilience to anxiety, depression and ability to cope.

Impact of research: 
Could have public health impacts: (i) LOC internality being protective - how is internality increased (it can be learned); (ii) Externals learn differently to Internals - this may impact in the way public health messages are delivered to the public (not just in relation to the pandemic).
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 12 July, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 19 July, 2021
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Covid-19; Locus of Control; Religious/Spiritual beliefs; Depression; Anxiety; Coping

B3837 - Proposal Trauma mental health and educational outcomes - 29/07/2021

B number: 
B3837
Principal applicant name: 
Sarah Halligan | University of Bath (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Nicole Marshall, Aletia Hagedorn
Title of project: 
Proposal Trauma, mental health and educational outcomes
Proposal summary: 

Experiencing abuse in childhood (i.e., physical, sexual, and emotional abuse) increases the risk of many adverse outcomes in adolescence and adulthood, including poor educational attainment. However, the mechanisms underlying the relationship between child abuse and poor educational attainment are less well understood. One possible explanation is that child abuse leads to increased mental health difficulties, which in turn causes disengagement and disinterest in school. Previous studies have evidenced that child abuse increases the risk of mental health difficulties in later life, including both internalising problems (e.g., depression, anxiety) and externalising problems (e.g., conduct disorder, ADHD). In turn, externalising behaviours have been associated with lower grades and increased rates of dropping out of school. Some evidence also suggests that internalising problems are related to worse educational attainment, but the findings have been inconsistent. Therefore, the current study aims to examine whether internalising or externalising problems mediate the relationship between child abuse and educational outcomes at age 16.

Impact of research: 
The current study could identify potential pathways from which child abuse leads to poor educational outcomes in adolescence, via either externalising and/or internalising problems. Additionally, findings can inform future programmes that aim to keep abused children abused engaged in school, by identifying key reasons why some children may not achieve academically (due to either internalising and/or externalising problems).
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 16 July, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 19 July, 2021
Keywords: 
Social Science, Mental health, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity

B3832 - The link between questionnaire-reported disordered eating and eating disorder medical diagnosis - 26/07/2021

B number: 
B3832
Principal applicant name: 
Naomi Warne | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Helen Bould, Dr Tim Cadman, Dr Amanda Hughes, Professor Laura Howe
Title of project: 
The link between questionnaire-reported disordered eating and eating disorder medical diagnosis
Proposal summary: 

Eating disorders (including Anorexia Nervosa (AN) Bulimia Nervosa (BN), Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED)) are severely impairing and have the highest mortality of any psychiatric condition. Prevalence of eating disorders in the general population is around 5% but up to a third of young women and one fifth of young men report disordered eating behaviours (e.g. fasting, purging, binge-eating, excessive exercise) that are impacting their lives. However, very little research has been conducted into the association between disordered eating behaviours (often reported on questionnaires) and eating disorder diagnoses (confirmed by medical records), or on factors that lead to a lack of eating disorder diagnosis in individuals who report disordered eating behaviours consistent with diagnostic criteria.
Furthermore, associations with potential risk factors such as socioeconomic position (SEP) are inconsistent for self-reported eating disorder symptoms and eating disorder diagnoses. Whilst some studies have found that lower SEP is associated with higher self-reported eating disorder traits, these findings are not universal. For example, a large national study in USA found no association between SEP and eating disorders. In addition, studies which have looked at rates of diagnosis and hospitalisation (rather than self-reported symptoms) have found that higher family SEP is associated with increased risk of eating disorders. However, it is not clear that higher SEP is a cause of eating disorders. An alternative explanation is that children from higher SEP backgrounds find it easier to access services, and this may be why there are higher rates of diagnosis in this group.
This project will look broadly at the association between disordered eating captured by questionnaire reports and eating disorder diagnoses from linked medical records. Firstly, we will assess whether individuals with disordered eating reported on questionnaires also have an eating disorder medical diagnosis. Secondly, we will explore what factors are associated with obtaining an eating disorder diagnosis in the whole sample and in those reporting diagnostic level disordered eating behaviours via questionnaire. We will also examine associations for socioeconomic position with disordered eating symptoms and eating disorder diagnosis in the ALSPAC cohort and with other population-based cohorts. Finally, we will examine similarities in outcomes for individuals who report disordered eating on questionnaires and those with a diagnosis of eating disorders.

Impact of research: 
This research will be able to provide a greater understanding of the link between population-level disordered eating and clinical eating disorer diagnoses. This may help us work out why some people with disordered eating do not receive a diagnosis or medical help which can inform future clinical practice.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 7 July, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 12 July, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Eating disorders - anorexia, bulimia

B3827 - Lipid Profile and DNA methylation - from birth for adolescence - 12/07/2021

B number: 
B3827
Principal applicant name: 
Giulia Mancano | IEU, University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Dr Gemma Sharp, Dr Janine F. Felix, Giulietta Monasso
Title of project: 
Lipid Profile and DNA methylation - from birth for adolescence
Proposal summary: 

Unfavourable lipid profile (i.e. dyslipidemia) is an established cause of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). In recent years, several CpGs sites have been found on lipid-related genes or associated with lipid profiles, supporting the hypothesis that DNA methylation (DNAm) could be involved in regulating these genes and their role in lipid-related diseases [1].

1.Hedman, A.K., et al., Epigenetic Patterns in Blood Associated With Lipid Traits Predict Incident Coronary Heart Disease Events and Are Enriched for Results From Genome-Wide Association Studies. Circ Cardiovasc Genet, 2017. 10(1).

Impact of research: 
Build evidence on the link between lipids and DNA methylation and on the mechanistic pathway linking lipids to adverse health outcomes
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 7 July, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 12 July, 2021
Keywords: 
Epigenetic Epidemiology, Obesity, EWAS, Biomarkers - e.g. cotinine, fatty acids, haemoglobin, etc., Offspring

B3826 - Association of Fat Mass Index FMI and DNA metyhylation - from childhood to adolescence - 12/07/2021

B number: 
B3826
Principal applicant name: 
Giulia Mancano | IEU, University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Dr Gemma Sharp, Dr Janine F. Felix, Giulietta Monasso
Title of project: 
Association of Fat Mass Index (FMI) and DNA metyhylation - from childhood to adolescence
Proposal summary: 

Obesity has been extensively linked to a plethora of health conditions, but most research has defined obesity using body mass index (BMI). While BMI may be a very straightforward and useful marker of obesity, recent research suggest that a targeted measurement of one's fat, in the form of fat mass index (FMI), might be a more clinically relevant measure.

Impact of research: 
Build evidence on the link between fat mass and DNA methylation and on the mechanistic pathway linking fat mass to adverse health outcomes
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 7 July, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 12 July, 2021
Keywords: 
Epigenetic Epidemiology, Obesity, EWAS, DNA methylation Offspring Child fat mass Index

B3834 - Exploring the association between chronic pain and academic achievement in a UK cohort - 12/07/2021

B number: 
B3834
Principal applicant name: 
Anthea Percy | Queen's University Belfast (Northern Ireland)
Co-applicants: 
Mr Darragh Mullen, Hannah Sallis
Title of project: 
Exploring the association between chronic pain and academic achievement in a UK cohort.
Proposal summary: 

Chronic pain impacts almost every aspect of the lives of the young people who experience it, including sleep, social relationships, and family dynamics. In an educational context, the presence of chronic pain for young people has been associated with lower levels of attendance and school functioning, as well as possible reductions in measures of academic achievement such as school grades, keeping up with schoolwork, and perception of school achievement. Recent research has also highlighted the potential role that poor sleep or sleep disorders may play in compromised educational performance. Through integrating these two research threads, this study will examine the possibility that the impact of chronic pain on educational outcomes is mediated through disturbed sleep in young people who experience chronic pain relative to their pain-free peers. Firstly, the study will map out the characteristics of young people aged 17 with chronic pain in a UK educational context. Secondly it will examine whether young people with chronic pain at age 17 find it more difficult to achieve in school compared to their peers who don't experience chronic pain after we take into account a range of other factors such as gender, IQ, socioeconomic status, and special educational needs. Finally, this project will examine how factors such as loss of sleep contribute to this relationship.

Impact of research: 
This study will be an in-depth examination of how experiencing chronic pain may adversely affect young people's ability to achieve academically within a UK educational context. There is a limited research literature on this topic. The study also harnesses recent advances in our understanding of the impact of adolescent sleep disturbances and their impact on developmental outcomes, such as educational performance. It is hoped that the analysis may shed light on possible opportunities for prevention and intervention to improve educational outcomes for young people experiencing chronic pain.
Date proposal received: 
Saturday, 10 July, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 12 July, 2021
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Cognitive impairment, Learning difficulty, Mental health, Pain, Statistical methods, Cognition - cognitive function, Development, Intelligence - memory, Sleep, Social science

B3819 - Pair-wise conditional and colocalization analysis -- an application to MS - 29/07/2021

B number: 
B3819
Principal applicant name: 
Jie Zheng | University Of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Jamie Robinson, Professor Tom Gaunt
Title of project: 
Pair-wise conditional and colocalization analysis -- an application to MS
Proposal summary: 

Genetic colocalization is a genetic epidemiology method that have been widely applied to understand the role of molecular traits on human diseases. However, the method has the assumption that there is only one association signal exist in the test region, which is not always the case.
In this project, we aim to refine the method by integrating conditional analysis approach (GCTA-COJO) with colocalization approach. We will develop the method using C++ and apply it to a wide range of molecular traits and disease outcomes. The ALSPAC genotype data will be used as the reference panel for the application of the novel method.

Impact of research: 
PWCoCo, the new method we plan to develop, will be a leading method that change the gameset of genetic colocalization approach. The application of PWCoCo will bring causal links between genes and diseases, which some of the genes could be drug targets for novel drugs.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 22 June, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 8 July, 2021
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Allergy, GWAS, Genetic epidemiology

B3824 - Multivariate Genetic Study of Impulsivity and Binge Drinking through Late adolescence and Early Adulthood - 05/07/2021

B number: 
B3824
Principal applicant name: 
Wendy Slutske | University of Missouri (United States)
Co-applicants: 
Alex Miller, Ian Gizer
Title of project: 
Multivariate Genetic Study of Impulsivity and Binge Drinking through Late adolescence and Early Adulthood
Proposal summary: 

Binge drinking behaviors in late adolescence and early adulthood have been shown to be important indicators of risk for developing problems with alcohol use and related consequences which may extend beyond early adulthood. Binge drinking behaviors are also thought to be influenced, in part, by impulsive personality traits such that more impulsive adolescents and emerging adults tend to binge drink more heavily, more frequently, and beyond early adulthood. However, the connection between impulsive personality and binge drinking has been clouded to some extent in past research because there is generally not a widely agreed upon “best” way to measure impulsive personality. Additionally, this measurement issue may obscure our ability to detect genetic influences on impulsive personality and binge drinking and their connection across the lifespan. The proposed study seeks to clarify the role that genetic factors might play in this relationship by using results from pre-existing genetic studies of impulsive personality and alcohol use to define genetic risk factors that reflect more succinct traits (e.g., the drive to behave impulsively in response to emotions and rewards, and the inability to stop or control these drives). These re-defined genetic risk factors will then be used to determine the extent to which genetic influences for impulsive personality predict changes in binge drinking across late adolescence and early adulthood in the ALSPAC sample.

Impact of research: 
Results from this study will expand current understanding of dual-systems genetic factors contributing to changes in alcohol use and impulsive personality traits across a critical developmental period, and more broadly, the genetic etiology of alcohol use disorder development. While there is emerging evidence that problematic alcohol use and impulsive personality traits are dynamically related, such that changes in these constructs appear to correlate during important developmental periods and changes in impulsivity and sensation seeking across late adolescence and emerging adulthood are positively associated with individual differences in heavy drinking (Littlefield et al., 2014; Quinn & Harden, 2013), the extent to which overlapping genetic influences for these traits contributes to the correlated longitudinal trajectories of said traits has yet to be examined to the extent proposed by this study. Finally, findings will also represent novel applications of state-of-the-art post-GWAS modeling of genetic data and an assessment of the benefits of these models in informing genetic prediction models of the etiology of problematic alcohol use and alcohol use disorders.
Date proposal received: 
Saturday, 26 June, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 5 July, 2021
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Mental health, GWAS, Statistical methods, Development, Genetic epidemiology, Genetics, Genome wide association study, Psychology - personality, Statistical methods

B3825 - Parenting and child self-esteem and depression symptoms - 05/07/2021

B number: 
B3825
Principal applicant name: 
Ted Barker | University of Sussex (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Giulianna Tanner
Title of project: 
Parenting and child self-esteem and depression symptoms
Proposal summary: 

The aim of this study is to analyse the relationship between mothers’ and fathers’ parenting and child depression trajectories, focusing on aspects which have received limited attention in the literature. Past research has examined how parenting behaviour has influenced child wellbeing, highlighting the positive association of parental control, rejection and unsupportiveness with child depression trajectories and low self-esteem (McLeod, Weisz, & Wood, 2007; Yasmin & Hossain, 2014). Conversely, parental warmth (Del Barrio, Holgado-Tello, & Carrasco, 2016) and supportive behaviour (Juang & Silbereisen, 1999) have been identified as protective factors on that may limit the severity of depression symptoms. Nonetheless, the literature on child psychopathologies so far has prevalently focused on mothers’ parenting, or has failed to distinguish between the individual effects of mothers’ and fathers’ parenting on child outcomes (Parent, Forehand, Pomerantz, Peisch, & Seehuus, 2017). This appears to be limiting, as the role of fathers on child outcomes was found to be distinct from that of mothers (Jeynes, 2016; Connell & Goodman, 2002).

Very few papers have looked at the relationship between self-esteem and depression considering both mothers and fathers. As strong evidence has identified low self-esteem as a precursor for depression (Manna, Falgares, Ingoglia, Como, & De Santis, 2016; McClure, 2010; Orth, 2018), we hypothesise it should play an important mediating role between parenting and child depression. In addition, parental depression could be an important environmental factor to consider, as it is related to higher levels of depression in children (Kwong et al., 2019; Natsuaki et al., 2014), whilst a child’s friendships could be considered as a protective factor, since they have been found to be negatively associated with mental health difficulties (Preddy & Fite, 2012).

This study will therefore examine how both mothers’ and fathers’ parenting affect child depression. The relationship between parenting and child depression will be analysed taking into consideration the mediating effects of the child’s self-esteem. We will also examine any moderating effect of maternal and paternal depression, and a potentially protective role of friendships.

Impact of research: 
This research will provide further knowledge on the role that the parental figures might have in the development of children’s mental health, specifically giving more insight into how it might affect self-esteem and depression. In particular, this paper could help better understand the relationship between father variables and child outcomes. This could help psychologists in the future develop more targeted strategies to prevent the development of and treat poor self-esteem and depression in childhood and adolescence.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 28 June, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 5 July, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, Mothers - maternal age, menopause, obstetrics

B3828 - Sex steroid hormones and Breast cancer risk - 05/07/2021

B number: 
B3828
Principal applicant name: 
Aayah Nounu | The University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Rebecca Richmond
Title of project: 
Sex steroid hormones and Breast cancer risk
Proposal summary: 

Breast cancer (BC) is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Early menarche and a later end to menopause have been shown to be associated with an increased risk of BC, as has oral contraceptive use and hormone replacement therapy. Furthermore, observational studies have shown that levels of sex steroid hormones in the blood are also associated with increased BC risk. Taken together, these results indicate that hormones associated with the ovarian cycle are associated with BC risk. The most reliable method to assess the association of these hormones with BC is through randomised controlled trials, however, these are long and costly, especially in the case of primary prevention trials of cancer. Therefore, we will be using a two-sample Mendelian randomization approach which uses genetic variants to proxy for hormone levels and investigate how variations in hormonal levels affects BC risk and survival.

Impact of research: 
Currently, MR studies have been carried out looking at the effect of testosterone and SHBG on BC risk. Our work aims to expand this analysis to include many other sex steroid hormones to investigate their effect on BC risk and also survival.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 1 July, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 5 July, 2021
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Cancer, Statistical methods, Genetic epidemiology

B3823 - Genetic Covariation Between Alcohol Use Aggression ADHD and Executive Function Across Early Adolescence and Young Adulthood - 02/07/2021

B number: 
B3823
Principal applicant name: 
Wendy Slutske | University of Missouri (United States)
Co-applicants: 
Kellyn Spychala, Ian Gizer
Title of project: 
Genetic Covariation Between Alcohol Use, Aggression, ADHD, and Executive Function Across Early Adolescence and Young Adulthood
Proposal summary: 

The relationship between alcohol use and aggression and its public health consequences have long been established with some suggestions that executive functioning and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder may play a role in this relationship. While it is generally accepted that these traits are similarly influenced by genetics, less is known about the specific genetic factors they share in common, and how this genetic overlap may change over time. The proposed project aims to use advanced genetic tools to identify biological contributions to the genetic overlap between alcohol use, aggression, ADHD, and executive function, to examine changes in their shared genetic influences across adolescence and young adulthood.

Impact of research: 
The contributions of the current proposal include utilization of individual level whole-genome data to examine whether genetic covariation among aggression, alcohol use, executive function, and ADHD changes as a function of age. While the literature has examined changes in heritability of these phenotypes across age, to date the literature has yet to examine whether the genetic covariation between these traits changes across time. The goal of the current project is to begin to address this question. Further, these types of analyses are novel to the literature and could elucidate our understanding of the changes in shared genetic influences between traits providing direction for future mediational analyses when appropriate modeling tools become available.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 24 June, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 2 July, 2021
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Mental health, GWAS, Statistical methods, Development, Genetic epidemiology, Genetics, Genome wide association study, Psychology - personality, Statistical methods

B3816 - Association between early infant and young child feeding and BMI Z score trajectory among children under 5 years old - 30/06/2021

B number: 
B3816
Principal applicant name: 
Qianling Zhou | Peking University (China)
Co-applicants: 
Haoyue Chen (Miss.), Xiyao Liu (Miss.), Lulu Wang (Miss.), Meijing An (Miss.), Zhihuan Cai (Miss.)
Title of project: 
Association between early infant and young child feeding and BMI Z score trajectory among children under 5 years old
Proposal summary: 

In recent years, the rate of childhood obesity has risen rapidly in western countries. Systematic review showed that childhood obesity is associated with adult obesity and various adverse health outcomes in adulthood. In fact, overweight and obesity, and the relevant non-communicable diseases are largely preventable. Research has shown that infant and young child feeding is one of the important variables associated with early growth trajectory and later overweight and obesity. A pragmatic challenge of many previous studies is that Body Mass Index ((BMI); an indicator of obesity and overweight) is assessed at one point in time, which did not account for changes in BMI over time. The BMI Z score trajectory overcomes the limitations of static analysis and allows comparisons across ages. However, there are few studies exploring the association between infant feeding and BMI Z score trajectory in the UK. Relevant studies in other countries have different findings on the effects of complementary feeding and duration of breastfeeding on BMI Z score trajectory. It is controversial whether feeding pattern has an effect on BMI among children. No study has been found to explore the independent effect of the feeding pattern (on-demand vs. schedule) on BMI Z score trajectory among children.

Impact of research: 
The finding will help researchers to understand the associations between infant feeding practices and growth. The results will be used to guide professional worker to propagate scientific feeding practices to parents, which will help parents nurture children’s healthy eating behaviors and promote children to grow normally.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 23 June, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 30 June, 2021
Keywords: 
Social Science, Obesity, Statistical methods, BMI, Breast feeding, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Growth, Nutrition - breast feeding, diet

B3820 - Cannabis tobacco and mental illness isolating their relationship through triangulation of evidence - 23/06/2021

B number: 
B3820
Principal applicant name: 
Hannah Sallis | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Miss Chloe Burke, Dr Gemma Taylor, Dr Tom Freeman, Dr Robyn Wootton, Professor George Davey Smith
Title of project: 
Cannabis, tobacco and mental illness: isolating their relationship through triangulation of evidence
Proposal summary: 

Cannabis and tobacco are two of the most commonly used substances worldwide. A substantial body of evidence documents an association between cannabis use and increased risk of psychotic and affective disorders. Tobacco use has also been associated with increased risk of several psychiatric outcomes. Co-use of cannabis and tobacco is a common practice, comprising concurrent co-use (i.e. use of both products in a pre-defined time-period) and co-administration (i.e. used simultaneously within the same delivery method). The high degree of overlap between these substances, and insufficient measurement in existing research, introduces complexity in accurately assessing how these substances impact on risk of subsequent mental illness. Therefore, it is possible that unmeasured tobacco exposure has confounded observed associations between cannabis and multiple psychiatric outcomes. Furthermore, the potential impact of co-use for mental health is an underexplored area. Studying populations where cannabis and tobacco are typically not administered together (e.g. USA) compared to populations where co-administration is common practice (e.g. Europe), offers an avenue through which to explore this issue. This project will explore the individual and combined roles of cannabis and tobacco in mental illness, through triangulating data from countries with differing cannabis-tobacco co-administration profiles. To further strengthen basis for causal inference, this project will also triangulate evidence across statistical and design-based approaches for studying causal effects.

Impact of research: 
Cannabis is becoming increasingly liberalised as a medicinal and recreational drug. Accurately understanding the potential risks of cannabis use for mental health is crucial to developing evidence-based policies and preventative measures. The predicted impact of this research will be advancing our current understanding of the relationship between cannabis use, tobacco use and mental illness through employing innovative methods and robust approaches to causal inference. The findings from this research are expected to inform international cannabis and tobacco control policies. Integration of findings into policy and practice is being pursued through research group non-academic collaborations with influential panels.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 22 June, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 23 June, 2021
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Mental health, Statistical methods, Mendelian randomisation, Mental health, Substance use

B3821 - OLINK inflammation markesr in G0/G1 - 24/06/2021

B number: 
B3821
Principal applicant name: 
Jean Golding | UOB
Co-applicants: 
Prof Abi Fraser, Dr Kate Northstone, Dr Matt Suderman, Yaz lles Caven, Dr Carol Joinson
Title of project: 
OLINK: inflammation markesr in G0/G1
Proposal summary: 

As part of the large Templeton grant (B3397) investigating funds are available to generate inflammation data from blood samples. This proposal formalises the request for the relevant samples

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 23 June, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 23 June, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Infection, Biological samples -e.g. blood, cell lines, saliva, etc., Biomarkers - e.g. cotinine, fatty acids, haemoglobin, etc.

B3822 - Pubertal Timing Physical Activity and Depression A Prospective Cohort Study - 28/06/2021

B number: 
B3822
Principal applicant name: 
Carol Joinson | University of Bristol (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Jon Heron, Professor Abigail Fraser, Dana Tarif
Title of project: 
Pubertal Timing, Physical Activity and Depression – A Prospective Cohort Study
Proposal summary: 

There is growing global concern about the rise in mental health problems in young people.
Rates of depression are known to increase after puberty, with a robust finding that early puberty in girls is linked to increased depressive symptoms. These findings support the ‘early timing’ hypothesis’, which proposes that early maturing girls find puberty more challenging as they are not yet prepared to cope with the biological, psychological and social changes. However, the relationship between pubertal timing and depression is less clear in boys. Understanding the mechanisms that explain the increase in depression during the
critical period of adolescence is vital to developing effective preventative interventions.
Levels of physical activity during adolescence might play a role in contributing to young people’s risk of depressive symptoms. There is some evidence that higher levels of physical activity are associated with lower levels of depression. Participating in physical activity may provide protection from developing depressive symptoms, for example by increasing self-esteem and improving social support. In adolescent girls there is evidence for a decline in physical activity levels at onset of puberty, particularly in those who develop earlier. In contrast, later maturing boys may have an athletic disadvantage which might discourage involvement in physical activity.
The proposed project will use repeated data on age at onset of puberty, physical activity, and depressive symptoms/depression to examine the role of physical activity as a potential mechanism that could explain the link between pubertal timing and depression in boys and girls in adolescence and young adulthood.

Impact of research: 
The research findings have the potential to advance understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the link between pubertal timing and depression. If physical activity is a mediator of this relationship, there is the potential for the research findings to impact on the development of activity-based interventions in secondary schools to improve mental health and to improve identification of young people who are at risk of developing depression.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 23 June, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 23 June, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, Puberty

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