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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B4039 - Multi domain understanding of observed parent-infant interactions at home - 13/04/2022

B number: 
B4039
Principal applicant name: 
Nicky Wright | Manchester Metropolitan University
Co-applicants: 
Professor Rebecca Pearson, Dr Ekaterina Ostashchenko, Dr Julia Wolska, Dr Yael Benn, Dr Laura Bozicevic, Miss Romana Burgess, Dr Ilaria Costantini, Iryna Culpin, Louah Sirri
Title of project: 
Multi domain understanding of observed parent-infant interactions at home
Proposal summary: 

Variations in mother–infant interactions have a substantial impact on offspring health and functioning in later life. The accepted gold standard for measuring mother–child interactions is to film interaction between mother and child in lab or home setting from the third person. There are several limitations to this approach, including demand characteristics, increased burden on participants and researchers and a less accurate perception of the infant and mothers actual experience in interaction due to using the third person perspective and often only short snippets of time. The recent advent of head-mounted cameras which can be used in naturalistic home settings addresses these limitations. In addition the team have developed a micro-coding system to allow an assessment of moment by moment interaction behaviours, coded using both micro and automated codes.
Research has shown that use of the headcams detects more maternal behaviours in interaction that are social. The videos from home interactions can be coded, they have so far been analysed using an in-depth micro-coded system. What is not yet known is how the micro-coded interaction behaviours map on to global constructs such as parental “sensitivity” and more specific dyadic processes such as attunement, contingency, coordination, matching, mirroring, reparation, and synchrony (Provenci, di Minico, Giusti, Guida & Muller, 2018). The first stage of this project will involve coding and processing data and conducting analyses to identify behavioural manifestations of these and other parent-interaction constructs.
We will validate the micro-coding and automated coding against global coding of sensitivity using videos from both ALSPAC mothers and fathers. This will allow the identification of the behavioural manifestations of sensitivity using both mother infant moment by moment behaviours, importantly across behavioural domains (i.e, mirroring of facial expressions as well as vocalisations or across behaviours where the affect tone is matched in face in mum and vocal in baby), and with quantification of duration of behaviours and time between behaviours. We will also develop processes to automate, such as face reader outputs, currently being validated in parents , but we need more input to use for infants. Establishing which micro-codes and combinations of behaviour are associated with global parent-infant constructs in mothers and fathers will produce a less labour-intensive method to assess parent-infant interaction. Further, this work has important implications for intervention to enhance parent-infant interaction by identifying specific concrete behaviours to target.
The second stage involves examining associations between the identified parent-infant interaction processes and parental mental health and language and with child cognitive, emotional and behavioural outcomes. We combine a number of researchers with specialism around parent-infant interaction, language development, proximity and body-position, joint attention and emotional and behavioural problems.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 11 April, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 13 April, 2022
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity

B4050 - UK LLC The mental health and wellbeing consequences of contracting COVID19 - 14/04/2022

B number: 
B4050
Principal applicant name: 
Richard Shaw | MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
UK LLC: The mental health and wellbeing consequences of contracting COVID19
Proposal summary: 

Information can be obtained from ALSPAC (B number folder) or the UK LLC on request

Impact of research: 
Information can be obtained from ALSPAC (B number folder) or the UK LLC on request
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 12 April, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 13 April, 2022
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition

B4025 - Associations between religion and life events - 11/04/2022

B number: 
B4025
Principal applicant name: 
Jimmy Morgan | Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Dan Major-Smith, Jean Golding, Dr Jonathan Jong (TBC)
Title of project: 
Associations between religion and life events
Proposal summary: 

Religion can often be recognized as a source of reassurance for those undergoing major or traumatic events in their lives, providing the understanding that these events have their place within the order of the larger universe (Berger, 2011). Hence the Marxist dictum of religion being the “opium of the people.” However, there is relatively little research done on the inversion of this dynamic, specific types of trauma can also have an impact an individual’s strength of faith (Leo et al., 2021). This is particularly prevalent with death related trauma, often witnessing death of a loved one or colleague could influence individuals to either further embrace their faith or weaken it (Fontana and Rosenheck, 2004; Morris Trainor et al., 2019). This is consistent with the shattered assumptions model that posits that those that have undergone trauma often change their world view to ‘accommodate’ their negative life events (Janoff-Bulman, 2002).

The relationship between traumatic life events and religion has been studied in detail by the scientific community, however, the nature and direction of the relationship is still a contentious topic. A review by Chen and Koenig in 2006 found that of the 11 papers in the review, one found no association, four found a positive association, three found mixed associations, and three found an inverse association (Chen and Koenig, 2006).

In these studies, we aim to investigate the relationship between RSBB and traumatic life events in both directions. To find how participants’ religious beliefs impact how they deal with trauma but also if different life events are associated with a change in one’s religiosity.

Berger, P.L. (2011) The sacred canopy: elements of a sociological theory of religion. Available at: http://www.myilibrary.com?id=591409 (Accessed: 9 March 2022).

Chen, Y.Y. and Koenig, H.G. (2006) ‘Traumatic Stress and Religion: Is there a Relationship? A Review of Empirical Findings’, Journal of Religion and Health, 45(3), pp. 371–381. doi:10.1007/s10943-006-9040-y.

Fontana, A. and Rosenheck, R. (2004) ‘Trauma, Change in Strength of Religious Faith, and Mental Health Service Use Among Veterans Treated for PTSD’, Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 192(9), pp. 579–584. doi:10.1097/01.nmd.0000138224.17375.55.

Janoff-Bulman, R. (2002) Shattered Assumptions. Available at: https://www.vlebooks.com/vleweb/product/openreader?id=none&isbn=97814516... (Accessed: 17 March 2022).

Leo, D. et al. (2021) ‘The Effect of Trauma on Religious Beliefs: A Structured Literature Review and Meta-Analysis’, Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 22(1), pp. 161–175. doi:10.1177/1524838019834076.

Morris Trainor, Z. et al. (2019) ‘Death salience moderates the effect of trauma on religiosity.’, Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 11(6), pp. 639–646. doi:10.1037/tra0000430.

Impact of research: 
To understand in greater detail how religion influences how participants deal with traumatic events and also whether these traumatic events influence participants’ religiosity.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 7 April, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 11 April, 2022
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Injury (including accidents)

B4043 - Examining predictors of COVID-19 vaccine intentions and behaviours in the ALSPAC study - 26/04/2022

B number: 
B4043
Principal applicant name: 
Isaac Halstead | UoB
Co-applicants: 
Dr Dan Smith, Dr Kate Northstone, Jennifer Condie
Title of project: 
Examining predictors of COVID-19 vaccine intentions and behaviours in the ALSPAC study.
Proposal summary: 

It is important to identify the people who may not want to take up the COVID-19 vaccine. For a vaccine to work well 70-80% of the population need to have had it. We will look at factors that might be associated with people who do not want to have the vaccine and also look at the people who have had to see if there is any difference.

Impact of research: 
This work will help to identify key subgroups in the population who are hesitant to take the vaccine and will contribute to public health interventions to improve wider health.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 4 April, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 11 April, 2022
Keywords: 
Social Science, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Social science

B4033 - The study of rare variants and their longitudinal effects on metabolic and anthropometric traits 28-02-2022 - 100918 - 11/04/2022

B number: 
B4033
Principal applicant name: 
Brian Lam | IMS-MRL, University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Prof Stephen O'Rahilly, Dr Sam Lockhart, Dr Giles Yeo
Title of project: 
The study of rare variants and their longitudinal effects on metabolic and anthropometric traits (28-02-2022 - 10:09:18)
Proposal summary: 

We know that some people carry rare mutations that disrupt the normal function of critical metabolic pathways, leading to conditions such as obesity and/or diabetes. Genome sequencing studies are increasingly identifying such rare mutations. Using knowledge about the precise structure and function of the proteins encoded by these genes, as well as experimental data generated in the lab, we can determine which rare variants are likely to be disruptive.

After identifying mutations that disrupt protein function, we can use the wealth of data available in ALSPAC to determine how possessing a disrupted protein affects a persons growth and metabolism. This will allows us to infer the function of proteins in human physiology, and will identify new drug targets for metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes.

Impact of research: 
- New information relating to the function of specific genes in human biology - Ultimately, we envision this work will discover novel regulators of human metabolism and identify viable targets for drug development in cardiometabolic diseases.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 29 March, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 4 April, 2022
Keywords: 
Endocrinology, Diabetes, Eating disorders - anorexia, bulimia, Fertility/infertility, Gastrointestinal, Hypertension, Obesity, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Cell culture, DNA sequencing, Statistical methods, GWAS, Mass spectrometry, Medical imaging, Metabolomics, Microarrays, NMR, Proteomics, RNA, Biological samples -e.g. blood, cell lines, saliva, etc., Biomarkers - e.g. cotinine, fatty acids, haemoglobin, etc., Hormones - cortisol, IGF, thyroid, Liver function, Metabolic - metabolism, Nutrition - breast feeding, diet, Puberty, Sex differences, Statistical methods, Whole genome sequencing, BMI, Bones (and joints), Development, Genetic epidemiology, Genetics, Genomics, Genome wide association study, Growth

B3853 - Is exposure to toxic metals impacting the health of children and young adults in England - 14/04/2022

B number: 
B3853
Principal applicant name: 
Seif Shaheen | Queen Mary University of London (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Caroline Taylor, Dr Ovnair Sepai, Dr Ian Mudway, Dr Alexander Griffiths, Dr Tim Marczylo, Prof Chris Griffiths, Prof Seeromanie Harding, Prof John Wright , Prof Amanda Waterman, Professor John Holloway
Title of project: 
Is exposure to toxic metals impacting the health of children and young adults in England?
Proposal summary: 

Pollutants such as lead, cadmium and arsenic potentially pose a threat to our health, even at low levels of exposure. Exposure before birth and in childhood may have particularly important damaging effects on the developing lungs, brain and cardiovascular system. In this project we plan to measure these pollutants in maternal urine samples taken during pregnancy and in blood samples from the offspring in childhood to see whether levels are higher in mothers and children who are less well off, and whether higher exposure before birth and/or in childhood is associated with poorer lung function, higher blood pressure, and lower IQ and educational attainment in childhood. If these pollutants are affecting children's health, they might be contributing to the poorer health seen in less well off children.

Impact of research: 
Aetiological analyses of prenatal/childhood toxic metal exposure versus child health outcomes may provide novel findings - it is thought that even low levels of lead exposure could have important health effects. Findings from this project will fill an important gap in public health knowledge, relevant to social health inequalities. The resulting database of toxic metal exposures in G0 mothers and G1 offspring could be a valuable resource for future researchers interested in studying toxic metals in relation to other health outcomes.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 25 March, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 4 April, 2022
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Respiratory - asthma, Statistical methods, Nutrition - breast feeding, diet

B4029 - A summary of pain and related items in ALSPAC - 04/04/2022

B number: 
B4029
Principal applicant name: 
Hannah Sallis | MRC IEU
Co-applicants: 
Professor Rebecca Pearson, Professor Rachael Gooberman-Hill, Professor Anthony Pickering, Dr James Dunham, Dr Kate Northstone, Professor Edmund Keogh, Dr Emma Fisher, Dr Abbie Jordan
Title of project: 
A summary of pain and related items in ALSPAC
Proposal summary: 

This project is part of the Consortium to Research Individual, Interpersonal and Social Influences in Pain (CRIISP), which aims to determine the psychosocial mechanisms underpinning chronic pain. This work will be undertaken across four large cohorts studies, including ALSPAC. In order to identify mechanisms and synthesise data across these cohorts, it is first necessary to identify the measures of pain included within each study. As an extension to the original proposal (B3598), we propose to write a data note to summarise all pain related items in ALSPAC across G0 and G1.

Impact of research: 
The overall aim of the CRIISP project is to determine the psychosocial mechanisms underpinning chronic pain. In doing so, we will deliver a transformational contribution to pain science and clinical practice. The data note proposed here will make the pain related data measured within ALSPAC more accessible to researchers wishing to use these variables in the future.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 1 April, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 4 April, 2022
Keywords: 
Physiology, Bone disorders - arthritis, osteoporosis, Pain, Bones (and joints), Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity

B4032 - Exploring risk pathways between early life adversity and eating disorder symptoms - 04/04/2022

B number: 
B4032
Principal applicant name: 
Francesca Solmi | University College London (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Jane Hahn , Professor Glyn Lewis, Dr Amy Harrison, Professor Eirini Flouri
Title of project: 
Exploring risk pathways between early life adversity and eating disorder symptoms
Proposal summary: 

Eating disorders are severe psychiatric conditions that often start in adolescence. They present with other serious health problems, have a high mortality rate, and are becoming increasingly prevalent in the UK population. Prevention of eating disorders is the ultimate aim but knowledge of risk factors for eating disorders is limited.

There is no consensus about the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and eating disorder incidence in adolescence as current research is based on cross-sectional studies in adults. Different aspects of SES might have different effects on eating disorder symptoms (e.g., parental education and income). SES might have indirect effects on eating disorders via food insecurity, poor dietary patterns, and early mental health problem, however these hypotheses have not been previously tested.

Our proposed research will help identify childhood risk factors for eating disorders and inform future preventative interventions.

Impact of research: 
The studies we propose will help to identify children at risk for eating disorders in adolescence and, eventually, inform preventative school- and family-level interventions.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 28 March, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 4 April, 2022
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Eating disorders - anorexia, bulimia, Mental health, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Development, Social science, Statistical methods

B4042 - DPUK Effect of life course stressors and cognitive status on mental health outcomes during the Covid-19 pandemic - 07/04/2022

B number: 
B4042
Principal applicant name: 
Sarah Bauermeister | Department of Psychiatry | University of Oxford
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
DPUK: Effect of life course stressors and cognitive status on mental health outcomes during the Covid-19 pandemic
Proposal summary: 

Information can be obtained from ALSPAC (B number folder) or DPUK on request

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 4 April, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 4 April, 2022
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health

B4037 - UK LLC Comparing the burden of long COVID in the community as measured by self-report and electronic health records - 01/04/2022

B number: 
B4037
Principal applicant name: 
Dylan Williams | UCL
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
UK LLC: Comparing the burden of long COVID in the community as measured by self-report and electronic health records:
Proposal summary: 

Information can be obtained from ALSPAC (B number folder) or the UK LLC on request

Impact of research: 
Information can be obtained from ALSPAC (B number folder) or the UK LLC on request
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 30 March, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 30 March, 2022
Keywords: 
Immunology

B4036 - UK LLC Are immune-mediated diseases risk factors for long COVID - 01/04/2022

B number: 
B4036
Principal applicant name: 
Dylan Williams | UCL
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
UK LLC: Are immune-mediated diseases risk factors for long COVID?
Proposal summary: 

Information can be obtained from ALSPAC (B number folder) or the UK LLC on request

Impact of research: 
Information can be obtained from ALSPAC (B number folder) or the UK LLC on request
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 30 March, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 30 March, 2022
Keywords: 
Immunology

B4023 - Exploring the impact of early adversity on the development of the immune system - 25/05/2022

B number: 
B4023
Principal applicant name: 
Christopher W. Kuzawa | Northwestern University (United States)
Co-applicants: 
Jacob Aronoff, MA
Title of project: 
Exploring the impact of early adversity on the development of the immune system
Proposal summary: 

Early adversity predicts greater disease risk later in life across numerous outcomes; however, biological pathways are incompletely understood. Previous studies have implicated altered immune function in these relationships, specifically chronic inflammation, which is associated with both adversity and multiple health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality. While these studies have been informative, inflammation is only one component of the immune system, and there is suggestive evidence that adversity might have broader effects besides heightened inflammation that impact later life health. The immune system consists of two subsystems, non-specific innate immunity and specific acquired immunity. Chronic inflammation represents up-regulation of innate immunity, while studies linking adversity to acquired immunity tend to report suppressive effects. Research in evolutionary biology and ecological immunity has suggested that an up-regulation of innate immunity and down-regulation of acquired immunity could be an adaptive “future-discounting” strategy in harsh and unpredictable environments, as innate immune activation can provide short term benefits but comes with long-term costs to health and longevity, while acquired immunity provides less immediate benefits but enhances future defense.

Consistent with the above model, we have recently found evidence that early adversity (e.g., low SES) in the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey (CLHNS) predicts a lower percentage of circulating acquired immune cells and higher percentage of innate inflammatory cells in young adulthood. Here we propose to expand on this work by testing whether similar associations are found in the ALSPAC cohort, using immune cell composition data derived from both flow cytometry and DNA methylation (DNAm) at multiple ages.

Impact of research: 
This work will contribute to understandings of the biological pathways linking early adversity to later life health. It will add to our research findings in the CLHNS by testing whether adversity-immunity links replicate across populations. In addition, the data available in the ALSPAC, including DNAm measured at three ages, will allow us to clarify at what age an association between adversity and immune cell composition emerges, and whether this effect is stable, amplifies, or declines with age.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 10 March, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 24 March, 2022
Keywords: 
Anthropology, Statistical methods, Immunity

B4030 - Does religiosity promote cooperative behaviour - 24/03/2022

B number: 
B4030
Principal applicant name: 
Dan Major-Smith | Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
Does religiosity promote cooperative behaviour?
Proposal summary: 

This project aims to explore whether religion may plausibly cause an increase in cooperative behaviour. Several studies have found an association between religiosity and increased cooperativeness, but few studies have used large-scale longitudinal population-based studies with detailed information on potential confounders to explore this question or assess whether this may be a causal effect.

Impact of research: 
To understand in greater detail how religion may shape our behaviour, specifically regarding cooperation.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 23 March, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 24 March, 2022
Keywords: 
Anthropology, Statistical methods, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Social science, Statistical methods

B4019 - Meta-analysis of Copy Number Variation in Large Consortia - 21/03/2022

B number: 
B4019
Principal applicant name: 
Kimberley Burrows | MRC IEU, University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Joseph Glessner, Professor Struan Grant, Professor Debbie Lawlor
Title of project: 
Meta-analysis of Copy Number Variation in Large Consortia
Proposal summary: 

[Written by Dr Joseph Glessner]

In the analysis of genetic variation, individual-level data is of great value. Research sites generating such data on human subjects are typically mandated by their institutional review boards (IRBs) not to share this information between institutions and other entities. However, the ability to combine large genetic datasets across research sites is an important tool in understanding the genomic architecture of common complex diseases. Indeed, methods to combine different genome-wide analysis studies (GWAS) of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers are well established, and they have proved extremely powerful for delving deeper into common diseases such as type 2 diabetes and childhood obesity. However, similar trans-institutional approaches for analyses of copy number variants (CNVs) are relatively in their infancy. Some of the main reasons for this discrepancy include:

1) Non-standard and variable methods to infer CNVs from genotyping data
2) A lack of robust methods for imputation of CNVs across genotyping chipsets
3) The accounting complexities of CNVs across subjects having variable boundaries

This research plan seeks to establish a genome-wide approach to meta-analyze CNVs across sites that comprise the Early Growth Genetic (EGG) Consortium.

Impact of research: 
Improved and refined techniques for novel exploration of the contribution of copy number variation within a consortium setting will greatly improve power to detect associations with common complex disease. This is an underexplored field within consortium settings and may lead to novel insights into the genetic architecture of common complex disease beyond that of SNPs. A successful project will see new/refined methodology that could be used for future projects.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 3 March, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 21 March, 2022
Keywords: 
Genetics, Obesity, Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, GWAS, Microarrays, Statistical methods, Genetic epidemiology, Genetics, Genomics, Genome wide association study, Statistical methods

B4024 - Beyond Adverse Childhood Experiences Advancing evidence and methods to understand the health consequences of childhood adversit - 21/03/2022

B number: 
B4024
Principal applicant name: 
Laura Howe | MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
Beyond Adverse Childhood Experiences: Advancing evidence and methods to understand the health consequences of childhood adversit
Proposal summary: 

A rising tide of research and policy interest in Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs, e.g. child maltreatment, parental intimate partner violence or substance misuse) has led to substantial financial investment in services to prevent the health consequences of ACEs. These initiatives rest on estimates of the health burden/costs of ACEs. Yet very little research attempts to interrogate the causality of associations between ACEs and health, despite potential confounding by upstream factors such as poverty and genetics. Robust evidence that ACEs causally affect health would strengthen the rationale for investing in interventions that prevent ACEs or seek to mitigate their adverse effects. Yet if some associations are spurious or over-estimates, this risks: costs of ACEs being overstated, scarce public resources being wrongly diverted away from other upstream determinants of health such as poverty, and perpetuating a stigmatising narrative that those exposed to adversity have uniformly poor health.

In BEYOND-ACES, cutting-edge research using prospective longitudinal and genetic data from 6 international cohorts will generate a step-change in evidence about whether ACEs are causally related to health-related behaviours, physical health, and mental health. We will use robust methodologies: difference in difference (DiD) to avoid time-fixed confounding, marginal structural models (MSM) to avoid time-varying confounding, polygenic scores to evaluate gene-environment correlation, and methods to account for genetic confounding. Underpinning this is a cross-cutting programme of methodological innovation: developing DiD and MSM for use with the composite exposures necessary in ACEs research, and evaluating approaches to interrogate whether the health consequences of ACEs differ according to the timing and duration of exposure. BEYOND-ACES will move beyond the current simplistic narrative about ACEs and health, and yield a step change in the quality of research in this field.

Impact of research: 
Interrogating the causality of associations between ACEs and health. Will feed into economic evaluations.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 11 March, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 21 March, 2022
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Mental health, Obesity, Respiratory - asthma, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity

B4026 - Characterising the relationships between alcohol use and mental health from adolescence to young adulthood a longitudinal study - 21/03/2022

B number: 
B4026
Principal applicant name: 
Hannah Sallis | MRC IEU
Co-applicants: 
Eve Kimber, Professor Marcus Munafo
Title of project: 
Characterising the relationships between alcohol use and mental health from adolescence to young adulthood: a longitudinal study
Proposal summary: 

It has previously been shown that there is a relationship between age of first intoxication (AFI) and mental health disorders. However, many studies in this area tend to focus on the relationship between the AFI and substance-use disorder, rather than other mental illnesses, or how pre-existing mental disorders predict substance-use in teenagers. Burke et al (1990) found that the hazard rate for developing a substance-use disorder is highest when the AFI is between ages 15 and 19 and found that this risk decreases as the individual ages, which is consistent with other literature. This suggests that teenage years are a vulnerable period for individuals as there is a high potential for the development and maintenance of a substance-use disorder. The impact of pre-existing mental health issues on substance use is demonstrated in a study conducted by Sung et al (2004), which found that girls who struggle with anxiety before the age of 16 have an increased risk of substance-use disorder, and boys with a history of depression in childhood and early adolescence also have an increased risk. Research suggested that substance-use disorders can also be a symptom of mental illnesses, for example, Robins et al (1985) found evidence that implies this disorder is a symptom of antisocial personality disorder. However, there is a lack of investigation into whether the AFI is associated with the onset of psychopathological symptoms.

Impact of research: 
This research will help us better understand the long-term relationship between mental health and alcohol use from adolescence to adulthood, which can assist in the development of predictive tools and interventions. For example, this research may help develop a model which can be practically applied to predict development of mental health disorders based off age of first intoxication.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 15 March, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 21 March, 2022
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Mental health, Statistical methods

B4028 - Cord blood and pre-school biomarkers mediating the relationship between maternal obesity and offspring behaviour - 21/03/2022

B number: 
B4028
Principal applicant name: 
Courtney Dow | INSERM UMR1153 (France)
Co-applicants: 
Barbara Heude, Maribel Casas
Title of project: 
Cord blood and pre-school biomarkers mediating the relationship between maternal obesity and offspring behaviour
Proposal summary: 

Maternal obesity is a growing epidemic associated with negative outcomes for both the mother and the infant, including pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes (GDM), and infants born overweight. Emerging evidence also suggests that pre-pregnancy maternal obesity has a detrimental effect on child neurodevelopment, affecting both cognition and behavioural development. This phenomenon is likely a direct result of a suboptimal environment in the womb. However, obesity is also associated with the activation of the immune system, which may further trigger adverse consequences in the developing fetal brain. A second potential pathway through which maternal obesity may act is through changes in the fetal steroid or hormonal environment. Obese women have increased levels of leptin which have been correlated to higher fetal leptin levels. Leptin is believed to have a role in fetal brain development, specifically behavioural regulation. Though studies have begun examining the role of maternal pre-pregnancy obesity on childhood neurodevelopment, only one study has considered the role of inflammation or hormones as potential biological mechanisms of action. Nevertheless, their role remains unclear.

Impact of research: 
This project will be a valuable contribution into determining a biological mechanism from which maternal obesity can affect child neurodevelopment, both as the first investigation into potential mediators and secondly by using data from multiple cohorts across Europe. These results can provide more evidence into a direct, causal link between maternal obesity and child neurodevelopment.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 16 March, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 21 March, 2022
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Obesity, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Statistical methods, Biomarkers - e.g. cotinine, fatty acids, haemoglobin, etc., Birth outcomes, BMI, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Development, Mothers - maternal age, menopause, obstetrics

B4016 - Characterising the relationship between disordered eating behaviours and problematic alcohol use from adolescence to young adult - 21/03/2022

B number: 
B4016
Principal applicant name: 
Hannah Sallis | MRC IEU
Co-applicants: 
Lauren Makin, Professor Marcus Munafo
Title of project: 
Characterising the relationship between disordered eating behaviours and problematic alcohol use from adolescence to young adult
Proposal summary: 

People who exhibit disordered eating behaviours, such as binge eating, restricting, and purging, are at increased risk of problematic alcohol use. It is commonly proposed that this is a partially causal relationship, with behaviours such as binging and restricting actively contributing to the development of problematic alcohol use. This may be because disordered eating behaviours can increase negative affect, reward sensitivity, and impulsivity, which are factors known to contribute to problematic alcohol use.

However, there are also reasons to believe that problematic alcohol use may in turn contribute to the development and maintenance of disordered eating behaviours, through similar mechanisms operating in the opposite direction. Additionally, ‘out of control’ or ‘binge-type’ alcohol use may be particularly distressing for individuals with disordered eating, due to the caloric nature of alcohol, and thus may result in increased compensatory behaviours (i.e., disordered eating behaviours). Longitudinal studies thus far have reported mixed findings regarding the causal direction between disordered eating behaviours and problematic alcohol use and have been hampered either by small sample sizes or poor measures.

Thus, this project aims to investigate and describe the direction(s) of causation between disordered eating behaviours and problematic alcohol use using robust measures and a large sample size.

Furthermore, the literature is unclear on whether purging or bingeing is more related to problematic alcohol use, as many studies have either looked at one or the other, or collapsed them into one category (i.e., ‘bulimic symptoms’). Thus, this study will look to consider the relative magnitude of association of each of these two behaviours, as well as restrictive eating behaviours, and problematic alcohol use.

Impact of research: 
This research will help us better understand the long-term relationship between disordered eating behaviours and alcohol use from adolescence to adulthood, which can assist in the development of predictive tools and interventions.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 9 March, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 21 March, 2022
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Statistical methods, Social science

B4027 - Long term impact of the COVID-19 panemic COVID Q 6 - 21/03/2022

B number: 
B4027
Principal applicant name: 
Kate Northstone | University of Bristol, UK (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Nic Timpson
Title of project: 
Long term impact of the COVID-19 panemic: COVID Q 6
Proposal summary: 

We have deployed 5 questionnaires to date through the COVID-19 pandemic, together with serology testing and tracked a wide variety of issues around physical and mental health and the impact of the pandemic. We continue our work in the National Core Studies (NCS) consortium to examine the impact of the pandemic across a number of cohort studies (10 in total). This questionnaire will be deployed across these studies.

Impact of research: 
Potential policy relevant findings
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 15 March, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 16 March, 2022
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Infection

B4020 - ALSPAC EMPHASIS study of childhood height and DNA methylation - 21/03/2022

B number: 
B4020
Principal applicant name: 
Hannah Elliott | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Caroline Relton, Dr Matt Silver, Mr Prachand Issarapu, Dr Giriraj Chandak, Professor Caroline Fall
Title of project: 
ALSPAC EMPHASIS study of childhood height and DNA methylation
Proposal summary: 

The aim of this research is to determine the relationship between DNA methylation at the SOCS3 region and both height and mothers social class. Work leading up to this proposal has indicated that SOCS3 methylation may be associated with height and stunting in cohorts based in Lower Middle Income Countries (LMICs). Analysis in ALSPAC will help to answer whether these associations are also present in High Income Countries (HIC) such as the UK. Analysis of genetic data will determine the variance in DNA methylation determined by genetic and/or environment and the causal direction of any associations identified.

Impact of research: 
This project will define the relationship between SOCS3 methylation and SES/child height and allow us to make inferences about the role of SOCS3 in growth and stunting during childhood. Analysis conducted in this project will be published as a peer reviewed journal article.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 4 March, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 14 March, 2022
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Child Height, Statistical methods, Epigenetic Epidemiology, Epigenetics, Growth, Mendelian randomisation

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