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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B3737 - The CIVIC project Predicting Covid-19 Impact on Vulnerable Individuals and Communities via Health and Loyalty Card data - 19/03/2021

B number: 
B3737
Principal applicant name: 
James Goulding | University of Nottingham (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Prof Nic Timpson , Prof Markus Owens, Dr Anya Skatova, Dr John Harvey, Prof Chris Starmer, Prof Andrew Smith
Title of project: 
The CIVIC project: Predicting Covid-19 Impact on Vulnerable Individuals and Communities via Health and Loyalty Card data
Proposal summary: 

Diseases such as COVID-19 are not defeated, and there remains an urgent need for improved modelling of disease incidence to support future early-warning systems; improved prevalence estimation; and understanding of long term impacts to vulnerable communities. Finding data to underpin such analyses, however, is extremely difficult indeed. Much COVID incidence goes completely unreported; even the largest studies are limited to tiny fractions of the population, and biased towards specific demographics; and generalized studies have to use either tip-of-the-iceberg medical statistics (ONS, NHS), fine-grained but unsustainable self-reporting technologies (e.g. KCL’s COVID Symptom Study app), or broad brush behavioural data (e.g. Google COVID-19 mobility reports, Social media data). With a lack of widespread adoption of track-and-trace systems in the UK, and (understandably) declining public engagement with self-reporting initiatives, new approaches are urgently required.

A solution is available however. Epidemics such as COVID-19 are now well recognized as being driven as much by behavioural factors as they are from clinical ones - behavioural factors that are richly embedded in the mass, anonymized retail transaction logs held (untapped) in CIVIC's private-sector partners' datasets. Through the interrogation of such data (e.g. health purchases from the UK's leading health retailer), CIVIC will address key epidemiological knowledge gaps in: determining dynamic estimates of untested COVID-19 via fine-grained pharmacy and self-medication datasets; advancing AI/Modelling knowledge by triangulating behavioural features embedded in >1.5 billion loyalty-card logs - that can act as predictors of future outbreak; and advancing the state-of-the-art in identification and mapping of key vulnerable communities across the UK (Olio, Fareshare, ONS).

In such modelling "ground-truth" labelling of target (independent) variables) is crucial. In stage 1 of CIVIC, analysis will occur at aggregated LSOA geographical levels, with data-points labelled with (a) time series of recorded incidence in each LSOA (NHS) and (b) time series of relevant 111-related activity. However in Stage-2, CIVIC will importantly, also investigate the potential of "data-linkage", an approach that holds potential to underpin finer-grained individual level analyses at scale. Such processes must be engrained with privacy-by-design, and underpinned by informed and participatory consent, if they are ever to contribute to public health.

Impact of research: 
The aim, and target impact, of this research is 3-fold: 1. To establish the potential of behavioural signals (held in mass, and readily anonymizable, transactional datasets) to shed light on public health risks, such as COVID-19 (and underpin new forms of syndromic surveillance tools, providing capabilities for early-warning systems at scale; sustainably; and without reliance on self-reporting apps). 2. To uncover potentially hidden impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable and under-examined communities (e.g. BAME, areas of Food Poverty, Deprivation) 3. To demonstrate the importance of transparency, security and privacy-by-design in data linkage systems, through open frameworks connecting key stakeholders: health services, researchers, private-sector data holders, and individuals/communities themselves. We expect the programme's work to directly impact on practices within our partners in the form of NHS, ONS, Joint Biosecurity Centre and Boots Pharmacy.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 11 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 11 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Infection, Statistical methods, Linkage

B3732 - Association between social disadvantage and childrens language and literacy attainments between ages 3-and-9 - 08/03/2021

B number: 
B3732
Principal applicant name: 
Sonali Nag | University of Oxford (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Siyu Ma
Title of project: 
Association between social disadvantage and children’s language and literacy attainments between ages 3-and-9.
Proposal summary: 
Impact of research: 
We expect the work to inform the significant social predictors of the development of children’s language and literacy development. Understanding the impact of social disadvantage may benefit the development of screening tools for reading difficulties such as dyslexia, that can trace actual difficulties and rule out poor reading performance due to limited learning resources in deprived environments. We intend to present the findings at educational conferences and workshops, as well as scientific conferences and in peer-reviewed journals.
Date proposal received: 
Sunday, 7 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 8 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Learning difficulty, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity

B3731 - Feasibility assessment of RNA sequencing of blood spots - 22/03/2021

B number: 
B3731
Principal applicant name: 
Jennifer Silvers | University of California, Los Angeles
Co-applicants: 
Steve Cole
Title of project: 
Feasibility assessment of RNA sequencing of blood spots
Proposal summary: 

We are seeking to test the feasibility of doing RNA sequencing on blood spots as collected in the ALSPAC study. We have done this type of analysis on dry blood spots before but not on blood that was collected in a tube and then put on paper. We want to ensure the samples are viable for our planned analyses.

Impact of research: 
The feasibility analysis would inform whether the planned eventual research is possible. The planned future research would be the first to examine longitudinal changes in immune system markers across 3 timepoints in development. This could fundamentally shape our knowledge of neuroimmune functioning and launch a broader series of studies to examine how childhood experiences shape inflammatory disease.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 4 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 8 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Immunology, RNA, Biological samples -e.g. blood, cell lines, saliva, etc., Development

B3727 - Youth Vascular Consortium - 17/03/2021

B number: 
B3727
Principal applicant name: 
Chloe Park | University College London (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Rachel Climie, Terence Fong
Title of project: 
Youth Vascular Consortium
Proposal summary: 

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly one-third of all deaths, and poses a major economic burden to the global healthcare system. Thus, the prevention of CVD is a public health priority and identifying individuals at increased cardiovascular risk at an early stage is of paramount importance for minimising disease progression.

Vascular ageing, the decline in vascular structure and function, is an integrated marker of overall cardiovascular risk burden on the vasculature over time and ultimately leads to end organ damage in the heart, brain and kidney. While age-dependent arterial damage typically appears in the fifth or sixth decade of life, there is wide variability between individuals with some displaying early vascular ageing. Exposure to environmental and genetic factors as early as during childhood or even during foetal life promotes the development and accumulation of subclinical vascular changes that directs an individual towards a trajectory of early vascular ageing. This has led to the concept that vascular age, as opposed to chronological age, may be better related to the prognosis of CVD.

However, research concerning vascular ageing in early life and/or adolescents is sparse despite substantial evidence indicating that the formative years of life play a significant role in contributing to traditional risk factors exhibited in adulthood. It is unclear what is normal vascular ageing in this population and no large-scale study has determined what specific factors contribute to accelerated vascular ageing in early life.

By creating the Vascular Youth Consortium we will be able to address these unkonwns. The findings of which, will be instrumental to clinicians in preventing the development of overt CVD later in life.

Impact of research: 
There are several expected outcomes from this consortium including: • The establishment of a collated databank containing study data from collaborators worldwide. • The establishment of reference values for vascular ageing in children, adolescents and young adults. • The identification of risk factors that contribute to early vascular ageing in the younger population. • The development of a predictive index of early vascular ageing in children, adolescents and young adults, based on identified risk factors. • A head-to-head comparison between different techniques used to determine vascular ageing in children, adolescents and young adults. The results of the consortium will be instrumental to clinicians in preventing the development of overt CVD later in life.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 1 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 5 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Physiology, Medical imaging, Ageing

B3730 - Exposure to green and blue spaces and working memory in children aged 5-12 - 04/03/2021

B number: 
B3730
Principal applicant name: 
Mikel Subiza Pérez | University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU (Spain)
Co-applicants: 
Dr. Aitana Lertxundi, Gonzalo García-Baquero
Title of project: 
Exposure to green and blue spaces and working memory in children aged 5-12
Proposal summary: 

Current scientific evidence suggests that exposure to green and blue spaces and infraestructures (e.g. parks, rivers, street trees...) may have an impact on human's health and that this effect might be partiallt explained by the sequestration of air pollutants. The general aim of the project is to analyze the association of various residential green and blue space metrics with working memory in children aged 5-12 years old in European birth cohorts.

Impact of research: 
We think our contribution will be relevant due to the large sample of participants available for the analyses and the use of a relatively novel variable in the greenness-cognition literature as most of the previous studies have focused on attention, IQ or academic performance. Besides, the inclusion of metrics of exposure to blue spaces will also mean a relevant step forward. In all, we will generate more evidence on environmental health that could inspire future policies and interventions.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 4 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 4 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Cognitive impairment, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Cognition - cognitive function, Environment - enviromental exposure, pollution

B3726 - DNA methylation score development for in utero exposure to paternal smoking - 01/03/2021

B number: 
B3726
Principal applicant name: 
Diana Ivankovic | Clemson University (USA)
Co-applicants: 
Cristy Stagnar
Title of project: 
DNA methylation score development for in utero exposure to paternal smoking
Proposal summary: 

The ability of environmental conditions to influence phenotypes in future generations requires that environmental exposures induce changes in the epigenome of male gametes via the transmission of aberrant sperm epigenetic marks following fertilization. Studies have demonstrated that exposure to cannabis and tobacco products alter sperm DNA methylation. Thus, it is important to investigate environmental exposures, including cigarettes and cannabis, and their effect on the male gametes during the crucial pre and periconception window. In addition, there is a need to determine whether these methylation marks are heritable and associated with health outcomes in the progeny, especially given that men are the predominant cannabis and tobacco product consumers, and their use is increasing. Our machine learning-based DNA methylation score is based on cord blood measurements of DNA methylation (Illumina’s Infinium HumanMethylation450K BeadChip) and will reflect exposure to paternal smoking pre and during pregnancy.

Impact of research: 
A machine learning-based DNA methylation score will be useful in studies of childhood health outcomes to fill in the inevitable missing data on whether or for how long a father smoked and to validate self-reports of nonsmoking. It will also enable its implementation in adjusting epigenome-wide DNA methylation association studies for this early-life exposure.
Date proposal received: 
Sunday, 28 February, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 1 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Bioinformatics, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Computer simulations/modelling/algorithms, Statistical methods

B3725 - Exercise and Mental Health in Children with Neurodevelopmental Conditions - 04/03/2021

B number: 
B3725
Principal applicant name: 
Umar Toseeb | University of York
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
Exercise and Mental Health in Children with Neurodevelopmental Conditions
Proposal summary: 
Impact of research: 
This unique project will help to elucidate the mechanisms via which exercise and mental health are related in children with neurodevelopmental conditions. Parents of children with neurodevelopmental conditions will be consulted during the initial stages of study development and during the dissemination of the findings. By understanding how exercise and mental health are related in children with neurodevelopmental conditions we hope to be in a position to inform the development of educational programmes and parenting strategies designed to optimise exercise in ways that are bespoke to specific challenges. Findings will be shared with policy makers and practitioners through targeted policy briefs, a workshop, and press releases news articles aimed at the general public.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 26 February, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 1 March, 2021
Keywords: 
Social Science, Developmental disorders - autism, Learning difficulty, Mental health, Speech/language problem, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Cognition - cognitive function, Communication (including non-verbal), Genomics, Physical - activity, fitness, function, Speech and language, Statistical methods

B3723 - Nature vs nurture of type 2 diabetes applying polygenic risk scores to dissect genetic from environmental effects on type 2 dia - 01/03/2021

B number: 
B3723
Principal applicant name: 
Despoina Manousaki | University of Montreal (Canada)
Co-applicants: 
Melanie Henderson, Nicholas J Timpson, Laura Corbin, Faegheh Ghanbari Divshali, Nahid Yazdan Panah
Title of project: 
Nature vs nurture of type 2 diabetes: applying polygenic risk scores to dissect genetic from environmental effects on type 2 dia
Proposal summary: 

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a heritable disease leading to an abnormal glucose metabolism, influenced by multiple genetic variants across the genome. Although common in adults, T2D was previously rare in childhood, but its prevalence in this age group has been increasing in the past two decades as a result of the childhood obesity pandemic, accounting for up to 45% of cases of diabetes in youth in certain at-risk populations. The prevalence of prediabetes (an early stage of T2D, which is characterized by elevated blood sugar below the threshold to diagnose T2D) is even higher among obese children. Furthermore, individuals who develop both prediabetes and T2D in childhood and adolescence develop early microvascular complications, whose treatment failure is high. Thus, prevention of young-onset T2D using targeted lifestyle modification presents a particularly important yet difficult challenge. As such, identifying children at increased risk early in their lives is critical for these targeted interventions. Additionally, quantifying the genetic liability to youth-onset T2D could help better understand the respective contributions of environment vs genetics in the etiology of this disease. For instance, it is crucial to understand if among children with increased genetic risk for T2D, a favorable environment can prevent the development of T2D.
T2D has a polygenic nature, with an important heritable component explaining between 20% and 80% of the risk to develop this disease. Polygenic risk scores (PRS) have been demonstrated to have an improving ability to identify adult individuals at significantly high/low predisposition towards polygenic diseases. Therefore, it has become possible to identify adults who will lie at the extreme distribution of a trait, such as risk of T2D. T2D is causally linked to obesity. Obesity, as expressed by the measures of body mass index (BMI), is also a highly heritable polygenic trait. A PRS for adult BMI (Khera et al, Cell 2019) has been able to predict differences in body weight in ALSPAC children as early as at birth, with increasing predictive performance as individuals grow older.
Therefore, we posit that, similar to the PRS for BMI, a PRS for adult T2D, in combination with clinical risk factors (such as nutrition and physical activity) may be able to effectively predict individuals presenting abnormal glycemic traits in childhood. Since T2D and prediabetes in both adults and children is causally linked to obesity, we will also test if a PRS for adult BMI predicts abnormal glycemic traits in children. We will then compare the predictive performance of the PRSes and combine them with traditional non-genetic risk factors to enhance T2D risk prediction in youth. Finally, among children at the extremities of the PRS distribution (ie children with the highest and lowest genetic risk for T2D), we will seek to identify which environmental factors mitigate the effects of this genetic risk, and either contribute or prevent the development of T2D. To do this, we will use a large pediatric cohort representing the general population (ALSPAC), as well as a population of children at risk of obesity (QUALITY), both of predominantly European ancestry.

Impact of research: 
Our study can potentially stratify for risk of T2D among children, based on PRS derivable at no risk and low cost. Such a stratification is likely to improve screening for candidates for targeted lifestyle interventions, while optimizing allocation of medical resources. Individuals who maintain normal glycemic profile despite an unfavorable PRS – or develop T2D despite a favorable PRS – may be of particular interest, since the discordance between polygenic susceptibility and clinical phenotype in these individuals could result from a disproportionate influence of environment. As such, this study can lead to interesting conclusions on the “nature vs nurture” of T2D in youth. Finally, a clear understanding of the genetic predisposition to obesity may help to destigmatize obesity among patients, their health care providers, and the general public.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 22 February, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 23 February, 2021
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Diabetes, GWAS, Genetic epidemiology

B3722 - Associations of Cardiorespiratory Fitness Body Composition Physical Activity and Sedentary Time with Cardiometabolic risks - 03/05/2021

B number: 
B3722
Principal applicant name: 
Andrew O. Agbaje | University of Eastern Finland (Finland)
Co-applicants: 
Samuel Barmi, RN, MPH, Prof. Alan R. Barker, Prof. Tomi-Pekka Tuomainen
Title of project: 
Associations of Cardiorespiratory Fitness, Body Composition, Physical Activity and Sedentary Time with Cardiometabolic risks
Proposal summary: 

Components of physical fitness such as physical activity and body composition has been associated with cardiometabolic risk factors in children and adolescents in several cross-sectional and a few longitudinal studies. However, it remains unclear how objectively measured cardiorespiratory fitness, physical activity, and sedentary time and body composition associates with individual and clustered cardiometabolic risk factors from childhood (9 years) through young adulthood (24.5 years). Our current projects B3455 and B3622 are investigating the roles of these predictors with vascular outcomes from childhood through young adulthood. For a holistic understanding of the interrelatedness of vascular and cardiometabolic health across early life, we are therefore investigating this further using our current ALPSAC project data.

Impact of research: 
Our research has the potential to improve understanding of the physiological mechanism and epidemiology of disease evolution.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 22 February, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 22 February, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Diabetes, Hypertension, Obesity, Statistical methods, Biological samples -e.g. blood, cell lines, saliva, etc., Blood pressure, BMI, Cardiovascular, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Physical - activity, fitness, function, Puberty, Sex differences, Statistical methods

B3720 - NCS Cohort Project ARQ3 COVID-19 and Healthcare Disruption - 18/02/2021

B number: 
B3720
Principal applicant name: 
Alex Kwong | IEU / PHS
Co-applicants: 
Professor Nic Timpson, Dr Kate Northstone
Title of project: 
NCS Cohort Project ARQ3 COVID-19 and Healthcare Disruption
Proposal summary: 

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is having a profound effect on all aspects of society. To reduce the spread of the infection, the UK government imposed strong restrictive measures across England, Scotland, and Wales, including the lockdown announced on 23rd March 2020, as well as strict physical distancing rules. These infection control measures, as well as the diversion of resources towards COVID-19 services has resulted in substantial disruption to UK health care and delivery.

Recent reports from NHS digital indicate a 153-fold increase in those waiting 12 months or more for elective treatments, compared to 2020.1 Furthermore, despite a decrease in those attending A&E services, the number of patients waiting over 12 hours for admission was 34% higher in January 2021 than January 2020. Furthermore, disruption to pharmacological treatments has also been reported with delays to accessing medication.

Although restrictive measures were implemented universally to the UK population, it has become apparent that not all those are affected equally, with some individuals impacted more than others.

As a result of the health inequalities, which have been well documented for decades, exist based on sex, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, there is an increased concern that these groups will be disproportionately impacted in terms of healthcare disruption.

The aim of this project is to investigate sociodemographic predictors of healthcare disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Impact of research: 
Policy change
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 17 February, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 18 February, 2021
Keywords: 
Health Services Research/Health Systems Research

B3719 - Maternal asthma and offspring methylation EWAS Meta-analysis of PACE cohorts - 16/02/2021

B number: 
B3719
Principal applicant name: 
Raquel Granell | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Klaus Bønnelykke, Professor, Hanna Elliott, Dr
Title of project: 
Maternal asthma and offspring methylation: EWAS Meta-analysis of PACE cohorts
Proposal summary: 

Background
Asthma is a highly heritable disease with parental asthma being the strongest known risk factor for asthma in the offspring. Maternal asthma is a stronger risk factor than paternal asthma suggesting a role of epigenetic effects. Furthermore, clinical studies have suggested that parental effects might be sex-specific.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 15 February, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 16 February, 2021
Keywords: 
Genetics, EWAS, Epigenetics

B3716 - Ultra-processed food and DNA methylation age acceleration - 15/02/2021

B number: 
B3716
Principal applicant name: 
Oliver Robinson | IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Adam Koczoski
Title of project: 
Ultra-processed food and DNA methylation age acceleration
Proposal summary: 

This project will analyse data already transferred under project: B3258 STOP: Science and Technology in childhood
Obesity Policy

Ultra-processed food (UPF) has become increasingly common in the diets of children, particularly in the UK. Consumption of UPF has been linked with obesity, cardio-metabolic disease and some cancers, independently of total energy intake and nutritional composition. Mechanisms through which UPF effects health remain unclear. DNA methylation can be used to compute a measure of biological age using methods developed by Horvath and others. Age acceleration (AA, having a higher DNA methylation age than chronological age) measured in children may reflect developmental processes and epigenetic stability and is strongly related to child obesity. We propose to explore the effects of UPF on AA in ALSPAC children and its role in the development of obesity

Impact of research: 
May add to understanding of mechanism of effects of UFP on child development. Student will gain knowledge of analytical methods
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 10 February, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 15 February, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Obesity, DNA sequencing, Statistical methods, BMI, Development, Epigenetics, Nutrition - breast feeding, diet

B3718 - Relationships between stress ageing and risk-taking behaviour - 15/02/2021

B number: 
B3718
Principal applicant name: 
Tim Fawcett | University of Exeter (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Stephanie Hunt, Dr Doretta Caramaschi, Dr Caroline Wright
Title of project: 
Relationships between stress, ageing and risk-taking behaviour
Proposal summary: 

The propensity to take risks is highly variable between individuals. Individuals who suffer stressful experiences early in life tend to show faster physiological development, an effect known as ‘psychosocial age acceleration’. Evolutionary theories predict that individuals who experience accelerated ageing are more likely to become risk-takers, as their likelihood of morbidity and mortality later in life is increased, and they therefore have less to lose and more to gain by taking risks. This predicts a ‘pace-of-life’ syndrome in which individuals exposed to early stress adopt a “live fast, die young” attitude, whereas those under less stress are more risk averse (Ellis et al. 2009; DOI: 10.1007/s12110-009-9063-7). Alternatively, the causality could be reversed – increased risk-taking could increase stress, and thereby accelerate ageing. As of yet, there are hardly any tests of these predictions in humans, and none that investigate causality. In this project, we will test whether groups of people who have inherited different genetic variants for epigenetic age acceleration differ in their risk-taking behaviour; or, conversely, whether those who have inherited different genetic variants for risk-taking behaviour differ in epigenetic markers of ageing.

Impact of research: 
This project will be the first to investigate the causal relationship between biological aging and risk-taking behaviours. In doing this, insights from this project will contribute to our understanding of the biological basis of human risky behaviours.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 11 February, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 15 February, 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, Ageing, Biological samples -e.g. blood, cell lines, saliva, etc., Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Epigenetics, Genetic epidemiology, Mendelian randomisation, Social science

B3717 - European resource for research into the early life origins of asthma allergy and eczema across the life course EU Child Cohor - 17/02/2021

B number: 
B3717
Principal applicant name: 
Liesbeth Duijts | The Generation R Study Group (the Netherlands)
Co-applicants: 
Annemiek Mian, MSc
Title of project: 
European resource for research into the early life origins of asthma, allergy, and eczema across the life course. EU Child Cohor
Proposal summary: 

Since 2003, novel birth cohorts arose and prevalences of asthma, allergy and eczema have not been studied. Combining these data might lead to better understanding of a.o. the impact of these conditions. The aim of our project is to describe the harmonization process of asthma, allergy, and eczema, and relevant related data. We will perform a meta-analysis using individual participant data of cohorts participating in the EU Child Cohort Network and describe the prevalences of wheezing, asthma, upper and lower respiratory tract infections, lung function values, inhalant allergy, inhalant allergic sensitization, food allergy, food allergic sensitization, itchy rash and eczema measured at each age from birth until adolescence while taking country of cohort and main subject characteristics into account. Additionally,we provide a framework for further research into early life stressors, genetic, epigenetic, and microbiome pathways on the risk of developing respiratory and related outcomes.

Impact of research: 
Very high impact, because since 2003 no new prevalence data of respiratory and allergy outcomes have been published, while combining data from different cohorts.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 10 February, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 11 February, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Allergy, Eczema, Respiratory - asthma, Statistical methods, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Environment - enviromental exposure, pollution, Growth, Sex differences

B3715 - COVID-19 specific antibody testing in ALSPAC G0/G1 - 11/02/2021

B number: 
B3715
Principal applicant name: 
Nic Timpson | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Ms Lynn Molloy, Dr Kate Northstone, Dr Sue Ring
Title of project: 
COVID-19 specific antibody testing in ALSPAC (G0/G1)
Proposal summary: 

The study aims to estimate how many people in ALSPAC have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. We don’t know yet if having antibodies gives someone long-lasting protection from the virus. The results of this study may help guide public health policy and the government’s plan for its antibody testing strategy.

Other population-based research studies in the UK are also asking their participants to complete the same antibody test. Analysing the information from ALSPAC alongside these other studies will allow a greater understanding of variations across ethnicity, age, socio-economic status and geography. We can use these antibody test results in several ways alongside information already collected in ALSPAC. Such as
information on COVID-19 symptoms, (already collected via questionnaires) medical outcomes, (through record linkage), and data from other clinics and questionnaire that could be related.

Impact of research: 
This work has the chance to assess antibody response VS infection rate VS clinical presentation in Bristol with a home-based test able also to compare patters in Bristol to those in other (demographically different) cities/areas. Careful interpretation of the data will be required, however this work does have the chance to inform understanding of infection, prevalence, age differences, socio-demographic gradients, life course contributions to outcomes and susceptibility and the utility of this form of testing.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 9 February, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 9 February, 2021
Keywords: 
Immunology, Infection, Biological samples -e.g. blood, cell lines, saliva, etc.

B3713 - Nutrition and immunity in pregnancy maternal responses and consequences for offspring - 08/02/2021

B number: 
B3713
Principal applicant name: 
Sinead English | School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Doretta Caramaschi, Dr Gemma Sharp
Title of project: 
Nutrition and immunity in pregnancy: maternal responses and consequences for offspring
Proposal summary: 

During pregnancy, the immune system faces a particular challenge of protecting mother and vulnerable offspring. Mothers rely on nutrients to maintain their physiological condition and immune system, as well as to nourish developing young. A key question is: when mothers face challenges to their physiological state, how do they adjust energy allocation to protect themselves and their young? When does this result in adverse outcomes, such as pre-term birth? To date, most research on pregnancy and immunity involves longitudinal studies in humans or experiments on laboratory rodents. We have a solid understanding of how nutrition or inflammation in pregnancy influences birth timing, offspring physiology and behaviour. Surprisingly few studies have, however, considered the interaction between nutrition and inflammation. This project will aim to fill this gap by using a diverse toolkit: evolutionary models, experiments in insect models of pregnancy, and analyses of human cohort studies.

Impact of research: 
This project will provide fundamental insights on how maternal nutrition and immune responses interact to determine pregnancy outcomes and longer-term consequences for offspring, across diverse organisms. In the longer term, it can also yield insights to improve birth outcomes: for example, if inflammatory responses in pregnancy cause an increased risk of pre-term birth, what are the nutritional interventions that could reduce this risk?
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 1 February, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 8 February, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Infection, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Statistical methods, EWAS, Biological samples -e.g. blood, cell lines, saliva, etc., Birth outcomes, Environment - enviromental exposure, pollution, Immunity, Mothers - maternal age, menopause, obstetrics, Nutrition - breast feeding, diet, Offspring

B3714 - Hypersensitivities and Aversions across the 5-senses - 09/03/2021

B number: 
B3714
Principal applicant name: 
Julia Simner | University of Sussex (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Louisa Rinaldi
Title of project: 
Hypersensitivities and Aversions across the 5-senses
Proposal summary: 

Most people have a comfortable tolerance for information received via their sense organs (i.e., sounds, tastes, smells etc.) while others have SENSORY SENSITIVITIES (i.e., over-reactivity, such as when sounds feel too loud) or SENSORY AVERSIONS (negative emotional responses, e.g., when sounds trigger anger, e.g., to the sound of chewing). Our prior proposal (approved and ongoing) investigates AUDITORY sensitivities (hyperacusis and misophonia; where sounds cause pain, or distress/anger respectively). However, sound-difficulties are just one branch of a broader profile which can affect multiple senses, and cause considerable negative impact in day to day life. For example, broad sensory sensitivities play a significant role in anxiety disorder (sometimes via neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism). With poor well-being and anxiety placing substantial financial burden on society (e.g., £12 billion invested annually by the NHS), our study aims to better understand sensory sensitivities and aversions with a questionnaire that identifies those ALSPAC participants who have such difficulties across multiple senses. The wealth of ALSPAC back-data will then allow us to “reach back” into their childhood, to explore their early development in terms of wellbeing, mental health, mood and feelings (DAWBA, Strengths and difficulties, mood and feelings, PANAS, Locus of control, anxiety) as well as their cognitive skills (eg., attention tasks), and schooling attainment (school key stage linked data). We predict that adults with sensory sensitivities/aversions were likely already expressing poorer mental well-being at a younger age, and may have heightened scores on tasks such as attention-to-detail and obsessive control, and potentially lower scores on school attendance and attainment.

Impact of research: 
The impact of our research is likely to be considerable, both in terms of developments in the field, and also on the lives of people who struggle with sensory difficulties. For the field, our work aims to make the first distinction between sensory SENSITIVITIES (caused by over-stimulation; i.e., sensory bombardment) and sensory AVERSIONS (caused by an affective or emotional dysregulation; e.g., anger-responses). And within this latter we aim to provide a grand theory of sensory aversions where these had been studied previously only in the auditory domain (as misophonia). In other words, we hope to show for the first time that misophonia may be a sub-category of a wider family of aversions we term misesthesia (hatred of sensations), and that these differ in quality and aetiology to sensory sensitivities.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 2 February, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 4 February, 2021
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Developmental disorders - autism, Eating disorders - anorexia, bulimia, Mental health, Sensory differences; sensory sensitivities ; sensory aversions, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Cognition - cognitive function, Development, Intelligence - memory, Mothers - maternal age, menopause, obstetrics, Parenting, Psychology - personality

B3707 - Assessing young adult e-cigarette use and perceptions - 02/02/2021

B number: 
B3707
Principal applicant name: 
Katherine East | University of Waterloo (School of Public Health & Health Systems) & King's College London (Addictions Department, IoPPN)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Ann McNeill, Dr Sara Hitchman, Dr Ioannis Bakolis, Dr Jasmine Khouja, Dr Amy Taylor, Dr Olivia Maynard, Professor Marcus Munafò
Title of project: 
Assessing young adult e-cigarette use and perceptions
Proposal summary: 

Smoking is the world's leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality, killing over seven million people annually. Cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. E-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking, can successfully deliver nicotine, and can help some smokers quit. However, their long-term health effects are unknown, and there are concerns about e-cigarette use among non-smokers, including long-term use, nicotine dependence and potentially transitions to smoking.

This project aims to examine the patterns and predictors of e-cigarette use and smoking among young people in ALSPAC, with a focus on perceptions and attitudes towards use.

Impact of research: 
This project has the potential to impact e-cigarette and smoking policy and research. Findings will contribute towards the understanding of: 1. Whether non-smoking young adults are becoming regular users of e-cigarettes, dependent on nicotine, and/or transitioning to smoking. 2. Which groups of non-smokers are at-risk for regular e-cigarette use and/or nicotine dependence. 3. Which modifiable predictors of e-cigarette use could be targeted by prevention efforts.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 1 February, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 2 February, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Statistical methods, Nicotine, tobacco.

B3712 - Effect of being a persistent picky eater on eating behaviour in school-aged children - 01/02/2021

B number: 
B3712
Principal applicant name: 
Caroline Taylor | Centre for Academic Child Health (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Pauline Emmett
Title of project: 
Effect of being a persistent picky eater on eating behaviour in school-aged children
Proposal summary: 

Picky eating behaviour is young children causes parents and carers an immense amount of stress. In most children, the behaviour gradually disappears from school age onwards with no lasting ill effects. There is, however, a small group of children for whom the behaviour becomes 'ingrained' and lasts beyond this age. We'd like to look at these children in comparison with children who don't have this longer-lasting picky eating behaviour to look at the effects on their eating habits during later primary school years. We'd also like to find out how parents' worry about their child's eating as a toddler affects the child's eating behaviour at school age in these children.

Impact of research: 
Our work on picky eating has already had a high impact with high media interest, etc. We expect a similar level of interest.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 1 February, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 1 February, 2021
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Child development, Statistical methods, Nutrition - breast feeding, diet

B3709 - Analysis of developmental relations between co-occurring mental health problems to inform interventions - 02/02/2021

B number: 
B3709
Principal applicant name: 
Lydia Gabriela Speyer | University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Aja Louise Murray
Title of project: 
Analysis of developmental relations between co-occurring mental health problems to inform interventions
Proposal summary: 

Mental health problems represent one of the leading drivers of overall disease burden. Half of all lifetime psychiatric disorders present before adulthood, with a point prevalence of between 10% and 20% of children and adolescents experiencing mental health difficulties. In addition, more than 40 percent of youths with a lifetime psychiatric disorder go on to develop at least one additional mental illness concurrently or later in life. This adds significant complexity to diagnosis and interventions and further increases the likelihood of negative outcomes, such as criminality, low educational attainment and unemployment. A developmental perspective that investigates the interrelations between multiple mental health issues from early life up until adulthood is likely to offer important insights into why mental health problems commonly co-occur and can consequently inform prevention strategies. In the current project, using state-of-the art statistical techniques, we propose to analyse the developmental relations of mental health problems. We will further examine potential factors linking mental health problems together such as genetic predispositions to mental health problems, perinatal risk factors, and school problems. The results of this project will have important clinical implications. In particular, they will shed light on potential risk factors that drive the development of co-occurring mental health problems, give insights into which symptoms are likely to precede other symptoms and further help identify other factors that might exacerbate the development of co-occurring mental health problems. Thus, findings will inform early intervention strategies for preventing the development of secondary mental health disorders.

Impact of research: 
Findings of this research will have important implications for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of co-occurring mental health problems. First, the project will shed light on different patterns of co-occurring mental health problems as well as underlying risk factors that increase the likelihood of suffering from co-occurring mental health problems. This will inform diagnostic criteria and will help to reduce the prevalence of co-occurring mental health problems through targeted interventions. Second, through examining the direct and indirect links between symptoms of different mental health difficulties and other potential risk factors, results will illuminate mechanisms that underlie the developmental course through which co-occurring disorders develop. This will help to improve targeted early intervention strategies that have the potential to prevent the development of secondary mental health problems. Overall, this project will help reduce the prevalence of mental health issues and improve long-term outcomes for children and adolescences suffering from a mental health disorder. Findings will be disseminated through publications in international peer-reviewed journals and will be presented at national and international conferences.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 28 January, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 1 February, 2021
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Developmental disorders - autism, Mental health, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Cognition - cognitive function, Development, Genetic epidemiology

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