Pregnancy, childhood & cancer research findings

Our researchers are exploring how factors around pregnancy & childhood might impact on cancer risk later in life

Below are the results from some of the research we have funded.


Long-term effectiveness of school-based obesity prevention: 8-year follow-up data of the Kiel Obesity Prevention Study (KOPS)

Manfred James Müller, at Christian-Albrechts-University in Germany, looked at the effects of school-based interventions on the prevalence of overweight.

The grant found interventions had minor but favourable effects in changing in BMI over 8 years. Students from a high socio-economic background showed more favourable long-term outcomes.


Interactions between growth characteristics and diet in infancy and childhood and their influence on age at puberty onset, an established cancer risk factor: data from the prospective DONALD Study

Anja Kroke, at University of Bonn in Germany, investigated the association between growth characteristics and dietary factors in infancy and childhood with age of puberty onset.

The grant found identified modifiable growth and dietary factors that may increase (or decrease) a child’s risk of beginning puberty early.


Body weight and height change, energy restriction in childhood and physical activity as determinants of colorectal cancer: the role of (epi)genetic instability

Matty Weijenberg, of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, explored the links between body fat, adult attained height, physical activity and energy restriction and the risk of colorectal cancer.

The grant results support the growing body of evidence that suggests that a healthy body weight and adequate levels of long-term physical activity protects against colorectal cancer.


Effect of maternal folate intake on fetal methylation and gene expression patterns of growth regulatory genes: A whole genome approach

William Farrell, at Keele University in England, looked at the effect of folic acid intake (during early pregnancy) on gene expression, and aimed to provide recommendations on folate supplementation in the context of future cancer risk.

The research found that folic acid makes changes to genes associated with birth weight (this influence is complex and affected by other genes too). These gene changes also alter the deleterious effects of smoking on birth weight.


TeesCAKE (Tees Consumption and Activity for Kids Experience)

Carolyn Summerbell, at the University of Durham, assessed whether a school-based health promotion programme (TeesCAKE), delivered through partnership working, can prevent excess weight gain in children from socially deprived backgrounds.

This grant found children who participated in the program were less obese and their waist circumference was smaller. This tells us that the TeesCAKE programme can work, although it was not quite as successful as expected.