Earlybird 3

South West PeninsulaMetabolic and Endocrine
Start Date: 1 Feb 2015 End Date: 31 Dec 2018

Earlybird 3: Childhood origins of health problems, inc pancreatic function, dental, psychological & respiratory health

The Earlybird 3 study, built upon the foundations of the Earlybird study (1999-2012), follows a unique childhood cohort, already studied annually from age 5 to 16, into adult life. Importantly, this recall visit takes place after puberty and growth, which are confounding influences on insulin action, are complete. We estimate approximately 225 young people age 18-19 will reattend with parents. The overall aim is to identify childhood predictors of impaired beta cell function, insulin resistance, inflammation and obesity - which are major determinants of adult health. This study will test the principal hypotheses that (i) defective pancreatic beta cell function persists from childhood into adult life and is associated with adolescent weight gain, central adiposity and insulin resistance, (ii) Epigenetic modification of ß cell genes, which might be responsible for ß cell impairment, is established early in life and stably conserved into adult life, and (iii) distinctive metabolomic profiles may be first detected during childhood and provide earlier and stronger markers of risk of hyperglycaemia than are currently available. The impact of metabolomic and epigenetic profiles on key phenotypic characteristics including adiposity, body composition inflammation and insulin resistance will be investigated, along with parent-child metabolomic, epigenetic and phenotypic relationships, and the stability of metabolomic and epigenetic biomarkers over time. The new study repeats core phenotypic measurements (eg questionnaires, anthropometry, body composition (DEXA scan) and key blood tests, using the same methods, and incorporates new dietary assessments and a multi-point glucose tolerance test as a dynamic measure of beta cell glucose sensitivity. The Earlybird cohort also presents a unique opportunity to explore childhood origins of a broader range of health problems, and includes two substudies to examine how childhood socioeconomic, dietary, metabolic and biochemical factors affect(i)dental and periodontal health, (ii) respiratory function and psychological wellbeing of young adults.

Jonathan Pinkney