The MothersBabies Study is an innovative study being conducted by the Microbiome Research Centre, UNSW Sydney. The study will be investigating how the microbiome impacts on pre-pregnancy health, throughout the woman’s pregnancy, and into the first year of their child’s life.
What we eat, who we date, our physical activity, our environment, even our ethnicity – all impact on our microbiome.
The microbiome is the collective term for the trillions of microbes that live in and on us (in your gut, blood, mouth, even a woman’s vagina) – and all the research is showing that it has a major impact on human health through effects on metabolism, immunity, and hormones. Additionally, a person’s pre-pregnancy health is a critical indicator of pregnancy outcomes, with the consequences of one’s pre-pregnancy health impacting on many future generations. Studies have recently shown many childhood diseases can be linked to the health of the parents before and during pregnancy. If someone’s health is already disrupted before they start to consider a pregnancy, this can have long-lasting implications on the health of the couple, and ultimately their child. Focusing on pre-pregnancy health will have a positive impact on the health of the whole community, and has the potential to reduce chronic disease burden for many generations to come.
The MRC is engaging with doctors, midwives, health clinics and hospitals across NSW, as they want to look at 2,000 mother/baby pairs to gain a snapshot of the preconception and perinatal microbiome in NSW. Given that GPs are involved in a couple’s pre-conception care, the MRC is hoping to have several GP ‘Champions’ in order to identify and recruit participants who fit eligibility criteria, as well as advertise this study through posters and flyers displayed in practices and clinics. The MRC will also be holding GP information nights to advise and educate clinicians about this study, and what would be required of them. A session will be held in Coffs Harbour on the evening of Wednesday 16 October 2019.
It is important to note that the study is purely observational – the women and babies participating do not have to take anything or do anything different pre, during or post pregnancy. Participants will need to provide samples of poo, and swabs from their mouth, skin and vaginas. There are also questionnaires that they would fill out at various times during their pregnancy. Once the baby is born, the MRC collects poo, skin and oral samples from the baby at the same time as collecting samples from the mother, and there are more questionnaires to be completed.
For more information, or if you wish to be involved, contact Naomi Strout RN/RM, the Executive Officer and Project Manager for this study, at (02) 9113 1832 Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read more about the MRC at www.microbiome.org.au.
This study has ethics approval over the next five years (approval number 2019/ETH00192).