While a baby is growing in the womb, it is very sensitive to changes in its environment. Changes because of problems with a mother’s health can have long-lasting effects on the child. We also know that if a mother suffers from pregnancy complications, she herself can be more likely to suffer from other diseases later in life. These include heart disease, diabetes, and problems with mental health.
To help prevent these health risks in both mother and baby, we need to know more about why they happen. One way of doing this is to gather lots of information from hospital and GP records. We can use these to understand when and why diseases happen as mothers and their children age. We will also bring together the results of routine blood samples taken from pregnant women and babies to help us work out how signs of disease begin early in life.
At the moment in England, this information is scattered across lots of different places, making it difficult to use for research. We are supporting a partnership between doctors, scientists, and IT specialists to help bring all this information together and carry on collecting it in one place from now on.
This is eLIXIR, or early-LIfe data cross-Linkage in Research.
To begin with, we will start collecting information from a deprived area in South London of over 600,000 people, where health is worse than in other areas of England. We will link together the hospital records of pregnant women, babies and children with other information from mental health records and national databases. If we can show that this system works, we will expand it to include many more people, both in London and beyond.
This new resource will help us to understand the entire “life course” of some of the most common diseases – from pregnancy to adulthood – and help scientists and doctors work out how to stop them.
Professor Lucilla Poston, Professors David Edwards, Louise Howard, Robert Stewart, Matthew Hoptoff, Jane Sandall, Dr Ingrid Wolfe, Dr Mark Ashworth and othersHide details
This study takes place in a Tommy's centre and is funded by Tommy's and a Medical Research Council Partnership GrantHide details