Who is conducting the trial?
Researchers at the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRC LEU), University of Southampton, the National University of Singapore (NUS), National University Health System (NUHS) and Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), as well as at the Liggins Institute, at the University of Auckland have developed the trial in collaboration with researchers at the Nestlé Research Center.
The study is the latest trial in the partnership between the EpiGen Global Research Consortium and the Nestlé Research Center.
“We are excited to move into this next stage of our collaboration as it harnesses the knowledge generated thus far, to study a nutritional intervention aimed at improving the health of mothers and their children. The trial may also generate new information that can be used to advise women on the optimal nutrition before and during pregnancy for a healthy pregnancy outcome, and for the future health of their babies” says Thomas Beck, Head of the Nestlé Research Center.
What does the trial involve?
The study recruited 1,800 women, before they conceived, across three centres in Southampton, Singapore and Auckland. Participants have been asked to drink the nutrients twice a day before pregnancy and to continue during pregnancy.
Chief Investigator Keith Godfrey, Professor of Epidemiology and Human Development at the MRC LEU, University of Southampton, comments: “The pre-conception phase is very important to ensure women are getting the best nutrition in preparation for their pregnancy. By starting before conception, we hope that there will be better outcomes for the mother and baby. Should significant impact on maintaining health and supporting early development be demonstrated, it could have implications for health policy and strengthen arguments for the provision of pre-conceptional nutritional advice to the general population.”
Associate Professor Chong Yap Seng, Principal Investigator of the study in Singapore and Executive Director of the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences states, “This study can help women prepare for pregnancy by optimising their nutritional status so that their newborn babies will have the best start to life.” He adds, “Through this novel study, we can glean new insights into the long-term effects of pre-conception nutrition on the health of future offspring. This has significant potential to change the way we manage prenatal care and nutrition. Greater awareness has the potential to improve public health in the long run.” Associate Professor Chong is a faculty member with the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine as well as Senior Consultant Obstetrician with the National University Hospital under NUHS.
This study will include more detailed assessments of the mother’s nutrition and metabolism before and during pregnancy than have previously been carried out, and will allow the development of new approaches to provide children with the healthiest start in life.
Epigenetics is the study of alterations in the expression of genes that are not due to changes in the genetic sequence and are influenced by age, disease and environmental factors, such as diet and lifestyle. An improved understanding of the epigenetic effects of dietary factors has the potential to identify nutritional approaches which help future generations start life healthier, and stay healthier for longer.