Baby, were you born this way? Event to explore if adult ill health is already determined at birth

Baby, were you born this way? Event to explore if adult ill health is already determined at birth

Two academics from the University of Aberdeen have been working together to investigate whether illnesses we experience as adults may have been pre-determined from the time we are born.

Dr Steve Turner, Senior Clinical Lecturer, and Dr Sohinee Bhattacharya, Lecturer in Obstetric Epidemiology, utilised data gathered from every expectant mother that has visited Aberdeen’s maternity hospital over the past 50 years. The Aberdeen Maternity and Neonatal Databank set up by Professor Dugald Baird in 1950 means that the routine collection of data can be used to investigate how differences in expectant mothers’ behaviour may impact upon the unborn child’s life right through adulthood.  

Dr Bhattacharya, who is based at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, said: “Here at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital we have been recording information about all births in the hospital for the past 50 years.  This means we have a databank with information on thousands of pregnancies and births and can use this data to investigate how exposures in utero match up with health outcomes in later life. “

The talk will be co-presented by Dr Turner whose main research interest lies in asthma during childhood, and specifically in predicting why asthma develops in some children but not in others.  Dr Turner added: “The “fetal origins” hypothesis suggests that the environment we experienced through our mothers, before we were born, determines health in later life.

“The way that this works is not fully understood but seems likely to involve genes getting switched on and off in utero depending on the environment. My research tests  the “fetal origins” hypothesis and  investigates how the size of a fetus and its growth during pregnancy is linked to the risk for developing asthma in childhood and if this is related to the expectant mother’s lifestyle."

Dr Turner and Dr Bhattacharya will jointly present their research on Monday, February 23, at 6pm as part of the popular Café Med discussion series held at the Suttie Centre Café, Foresterhill. These free events, led by the Public Engagement with Research Unit at The University of Aberdeen, provide a chance for the public to join informal discussions with leading figures in medicine and biosciences. A full programme of Café Med events can be found here