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ANSC Current research opportunities November 2020

The MothersBabies Study – Research Opportunity 

The MothersBabies Study is an innovative study being conducted by the Microbiome Research Centre (MRC), UNSW Sydney, that will be investigating how the microbiome impacts on pre-pregnancy health, throughout the woman’s pregnancy, and into the first year of their child’s life. This study has ethics approval to conduct this study (approval number 2019/ETH00192) over the next 5 years. Recruitment will commence at St George Hospital initially, with other hospitals within CESPHN (RHW & Sutherland) opening towards the end of 2019.

What we eat, who we date, our physical activity, our environment, even our ethnicity – all impact on our microbiome. The microbiome is the collective term for the trillions of microbes that live in and on us, (in your gut, blood, mouth, even a woman’s vagina) – and all the research is showing that it has a major impact on human health through effects on metabolism, immunity, and hormones. Additionally, a person’s pre-pregnancy health is a critical indicator to pregnancy outcomes, with the consequences of one’s pre-pregnancy health impacting on many future generations.

Studies have recently shown many childhood diseases can be linked to the health of their parents before and during pregnancy. If someone’s health is already disrupted before they start to consider a pregnancy, these can have long lasting implications on the health of the couple, and ultimately their child. Focusing on pre-pregnancy health will have positive impact on the health of the whole community and has the potential to reduce chronic disease burden for many generations to come.

The MRC is engaging with PHNs across NSW, as we want to capture 2000 mother/baby pairs to gain a snapshot of the preconception and perinatal microbiome in NSW. Given that GPs are involved in a couple’s pre-conception care, we are hoping to have several GP ‘Champions’ in order to identify and recruit participants who fit eligibility criteria, as well as advertise for this study through posters and flyers displayed in practices and clinics.

We will also be holding GP information nights to advise and educate clinicians about this study, and what would be required of them. It is important to note that the study is purely observational – the women do not have to take anything or do anything different pre, during or post their pregnancy. It would entail them giving us samples of poo, and swabs from their mouth, skin and vaginas. There are also questionnaires that they would fill out at various times during their pregnancy. Once the baby is born, we collect poo, skin and oral samples from the baby at the same time as collecting samples from the mother, and there are more questionnaires to be completed.

For more information, please contact Namoi Strout on 02 9113 1832 Monday to Friday 09.00am-4.00pm, or at You can also read more about the MRC at