POPStar study launches to investigate how pregnancy data can predict future health

A new study from the Departments of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Paediatrics at the University of Cambridge is investigating how conditions in the womb can predict the future health of mothers and their children.

popstar logo including textThe POPstar study will look at the anonymised data of over 4,000 mother-child pairs who participated in the NIHR-funded Pregnancy Outcome Prediction Study (POPS) and link it to data from the NHS, Department of Education and other agencies to see if growth patterns are associated with high risk of health or developmental problems.

POPS recruited pregnant women at the Rosie from 2008-12 and using interviews, blood samples and extra scans, collected very detailed information on pregnancy outcomes, and growth and development in the womb.

Dr Catherine Aiken from the research team said: “This information is a unique resource and has already been used to draw important conclusions about the immediate health of mothers and babies.

“We now want to see if we can use this data to help predict the likelihood of health problems for both mum and child, including long-term maternal health and developmental delay and neurodisability for the child.

“This is a really exciting opportunity to find new ways of identifying problems early, for example children at risk of developmental delay.

“If we know who is high-risk, then we have measures that can help, such as early learning support.”


The POPS children are now aged between six and ten years, and have already contributed a huge amount to clinical care teams’ understanding of birth complications. Professor Gordon Smith, chief investigator for both POPS and POPstar and co-lead for our Women’s health and paediatrics theme, said: “This is a really good example of making the most of the information that is routinely collected to go further in improving the future health of mothers and their children.”

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