MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health
Research quick links
- Congenital disorders
- Childhood origins of adult disease
- Electronic health records
- Genetic epidemiology
- Growth & development
- Health inequalities
- Life course research
- Obesity, nutrition & physical activity
- Research for policy & practice
- Screening & surveillance
- Statistical methods
- Vision & eyes
Published: Apr 26, 2013 2:30:00 PM
Senior Lecturer at the Centre, Dr Pat Tookey, was interviewed on the BBC News Channel, and participated in a 3-way live radio discussion on Voice of Russia. More...
Published: Mar 21, 2013 1:02:43 PM
In January 2013 Anna Pearce commences an MRC Population Health Scientist fellowship. Her research will take a longitudinal and cross-national approach to gain a better understanding of why children from disadvantaged backgrounds experience poorer health than those from more advantaged backgrounds. Anna will spend the next three years researching this topic, including 12 months at the University of Adelaide. Findings will be used to inform UK and international policy for the reduction of child health inequalities. More...
Published: Jan 11, 2013 3:57:13 PM
The latest figures for uptake of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine show that 91% of two year old children in England have received the vaccine. This is the first time since 1998 that MMR vaccine rates have been higher than 90%. In 1998 a publication in the Lancet, which was widely interpreted as suggesting MMR vaccine was linked with autism and bowel disease, led to widespread media coverage and speculation about the safety of this vaccine. Many parents who were justifiably concerned, decided not to accept the vaccine for their children. Rates fell to a low of 78% overall but in many districts, particularly in inner London, rates were as low as 50%. We are continuing to see the results of this, with large outbreaks of measles once again in England. More...
Published: Nov 28, 2012 3:24:55 PM
Centre Director, Catherine Law, gave the opening plenary lecture at the International Society of Social Paediatrics and Child Health’s conference in St Andrews on 6th September 2012. The theme for the conference was “evidence into practice and evidence into policy”. More...
Published: Sep 11, 2012 2:15:40 PM
Congenital, inherited and developmental disorders
Our research into conditions that babies are born with include: infections transmitted from mother to child, genetic conditions that may be inherited from parents, and disorders of development that are often manifest at birth.
Through our research we aim to provide information that can be used to improve how these disorders are diagnosed, treated and prevented. We also investigate the long-term effects of these conditions. Our research has been used to inform NICE guidelines on how specific conditions are treated, as well as for the development of national screening policies.
Current and recent research
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Congenital cytomegalovirus
- Congenital heart defects - UKCSCHD
- Congenital heart defects - newborn screening
- Congenital hypothyroidism
- Congenital rubella
- Congenital syphilis
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is an inherited condition that affects the production of cortisol in the adrenal glands. It can cause a life-threatening 'salt-wasting' crisis and is also associated with accelerated growth and overproduction of the hormone, androgen, which can result in girls being incorrectly assigned as boys at birth.
If detected early enough, CAH can be successfully treated to prevent many of these problems. This surveillance study will investigate how many children are diagnosed with CAH each year and how it affects them. This information will contribute to a review of newborn screening policy.
Principal investigator: Rachel Knowles
Team: Juliet Oerton
More information: CAH study page
A mother who has a new or reactivated cytomegalovirus infection in pregnancy may infect her fetus or newborn child. Although this often causes no problem for the baby, in 10 to 20% of infected children it can result in hearing loss and other long-term disability (for example, cerebral palsy, developmental delay) and may result in severe disease or even neonatal death.
We have investigated such infections in the UK, and are currently combining British and Swedish data to investigate the relationship between asymptomatic congenital cytomegalovirus infection and hearing loss.
More information: Key publications
For every 1,000 babies born, around 8 will be born with a heart defect.
Heart defects cause 3% of all infant deaths. The objective of this study, funded by the British Heart Foundation,
was to explore the childhood outcomes and quality of life of children
born with heart defects in the UK.
Paediatric cardiologists from 17 UK centres contributed information through a clinical casenotes review. Children and their families were invited to take part in a postal survey about daily life, health, school and social activities.
More information: UKCSCHD study page
Newborn screening for congenital heart defects
This NHS Health Technology Assessment (HTA) project highlighted that measuring oxygen saturation of the blood could be a simple and cost-effective screening strategy to identify heart defects in newborn babies. The study identified the need for further research and led to the HTA commissioning the PulseOx study to investigate the use of pulse oximetry on maternity wards.
Principal investigators: Carol Dezateux, Rachel Knowles
HTA report: Newborn screening for congenital heart defects: a systematic review and cost-effectiveness analysis
Around 300 babies are born with congenital hypothyroidism each year. This condition affects the thyroid gland's ability to produce thyroxine, a hormone essential for normal growth and development. Treatment as soon after birth as possible is important in avoiding growth and developmental problems.
This national surveillance study will provide information on how many children in the UK have hypothyroidism, how many of these are diagnosed by newborn screening and if they are getting the appropriate treatment and care.
This study utilises an online questionnaire system to make reporting more efficient and will make use of the data management resources being developed within the centre by the epiLab team.
Principal investigator: Rachel Knowles
Team: Juliet Oerton
More information: UKCS-CHT study page
We have an extensive programme of research on HIV in children and pregnant women, and work in close collaboration with a number of HIV research collaborations in Europe.
Dr Pat Tookey co-ordinates the National Study of HIV in Pregnancy and Childhood, which has been collecting data on HIV-positive pregnant women and children since 1986. Dr Claire Thorne leads the European Collaborative Study on HIV-infected pregnant women and their children and a programme of research in Ukraine.
More information: HIV research
MCADD (medium chain acyl co-A dehydrogenase deficiency) is an inherited metabolic disorder that can cause severe illness in young babies and even sudden death. It affects an estimated 1 in every 10,000 newborn babies in the UK.
This study was an evaluation of a pilot newborn screening service for MCADD. Commissioned by the Department of Health it informed the introduction of a screening policy for MCADD in England in 2009.
Principal investigator: Carol Dezateux
Team Member: Juliet Oerton
If a woman acquires rubella during early pregnancy she can pass the infection on to
her fetus. A baby born with congenital rubella may have many
associated problems, including deafness and damage to the eye and
heart. Congenital rubella is now extremely rare in the UK because of a highly effective immunisation programme.
Through the National Congenital Rubella Surveillance Programme we collect information about
any new cases of congenital rubella in order to help to monitor the effectiveness of the
rubella immunisation programme.
Principal investigator: Pat Tookey
More information: BPSU website
More information: Congenital rubella study page
2000 and 2007, there was a six-fold increase in reported cases of infectious
syphilis in pregnant women. The aim of the Surveillance of Antenatal Syphilis
Screening (SASS) study, funded by the National Screening Committee, is to provide evidence to improve current antenatal
screening practice. We are trying to establish what proportion of women
identified at antenatal screening need treatment to reduce the risk of transmitting
syphilis to their babies, how they are managed, and what happens to their
We are collaborating with the Health Protection Agency and BPSU on a parallel surveillance study of congenital syphilis.
More information: Congenital syphilis study page
Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite. If a woman contracts toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, the infection may be passed to the fetus. Although this may not affect the child, it can sometimes result in deafness, blindness or cerebral palsy. The European Multicentre Study on Congenital Toxoplasmosis (EMSCOT), funded by the European Commission, was a cohort study based on over 1200 toxoplasma-infected pregnant women. The study involved 15 centres in 7 countries, in Europe and Brazil.
The study addressed questions about the risks of transmission and signs of damage in the child and how these risks are modified by prenatal treatment.
Principal investigator: Ruth Gilbert
More information: EMSCOT website
Page last modified on 22 nov 11 16:30