The INTERBIO-21st Study is a recently funded extension to the International Fetal and Newborn Growth Consortium for the 21st Century (INTERGROWTH-21st) Project.
The study aims to improve the phenotypic characterisation of the intrauterine growth restriction/small for gestational age (IUGR/SGA) and preterm birth syndromes at molecular, biochemical and clinical levels so as to develop better strategies to correct the short and long-term effects of an adverse intrauterine environment.
Initially, we plan to focus on the effects of nutrition on fetal growth and development in healthy and complicated pregnancies from at least six different populations worldwide and to use epigenetic profiling of cord blood and placental tissues to understand better the causes of the IUGR/SGA and preterm birth syndromes. The populations being studied have very different risk profiles as they include some women in resource-poor settings at high risk for IUGR/SGA and preterm delivery because of malnutrition and/or infection (HIV and malaria).
We are also collecting standardised information about pregnancy outcomes, newborn anthropometric measurements and the child’s growth and development until 2 years of age using tools developed in the INTERGROWTH-21st Project, as well as other biological samples (e.g. maternal blood) for future studies. All samples are being stored in Oxford.
INTERBIO-21st has two components: the Fetal and Neonatal Studies. In the Fetal Study, which is limited to certain settings, women are being monitored from early pregnancy onwards so as to capture very detailed information about fetal growth patterns; in the Neonatal Study, women are identified at delivery provided that gestational age has been confirmed by ultrasound < 24 weeks’ gestation.
In summary, we aim to integrate pregnancy-related, molecular, biochemical and clinical data to improve the phenotypic characterisation of newborns, so as to develop targeted interventions and screening tools in pregnancy and early infant life.