It is thought that obesity in mothers preceding pregnancy, and the consequently altered maternal mood during pregnancy through hormonal changes, may affect a child’s early cognitive and behavioural development. The HAPPY study (Hormone and Inflammation in Pregnancy Study- Parents and Young) will follow up around 300 mothers and babies who took part in a longitudinal, case-cohort HIP study between 2008 and 2013 in order to understand whether changes in body weight, hormones and inflammatory markers in pregnancy can influence the current health of the mother and child.
Consenting mothers and their children will attend The Children’s Clinical Research Facility at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh where they will complete lifestyle and wellbeing questionnaires and participate in cognitive /developmental assessments: the Marshmallow Test which analyses a child’s self-control, and Head-Toe-Knee-Shoulder (HTSK) tasks which test behavioural self-regulation. Buccal swab samples will be taken from the children in order to test cortisol (stress hormone) and glucose levels. DNA will also be extracted from blood samples for analysis of epigenetic modifications (changes in the gene ‘signature’) in candidate genes which are thought to be important in growth.
For a look behind the scenes of the HAPPY study, please browse the Edinburgh University-endorsed student blog at http://uoecvsphd2013.weebly.com/research-progress, or drop an email to Theresia Mina, the PhD student running this study on T.H.Mina@sms.ed.ac.uk.
The HAPPY study is funded by Tommy's the Baby Charity and NHS Lothian.