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AQUA Stage 1: Pregnancy to 24 months

Pregnancy to 2 years of age


Almost 1600 Victorian women participated in AQUA from early in their pregnancy, many of whom drank varying levels of alcohol before they realised they were pregnant. Participants provided detailed information at three stages of pregnancy on demographics, obstetric history and pregnancy complications, diet, use of folate, health and lifestyle, and family/personal drinking history.

Samples from placenta, cord blood and cheek brush swabs were collected to test for genetic and other markers thought to be important indicators of an alcohol effect.

12 months and 24 months after birth

Over 500 babies had a 3D photo taken of their face at 12 months looking for potential early subtle signs of alcohol effects. Then, at two years of age, around 550 mothers brought their children to the Royal Children’s Hospital for a comprehensive developmental assessment, done by a trained psychologist. At both time points, around 1,000 AQUA mothers also completed questionnaires to report on their baby’s development and aspects of family environment.


  • The preliminary work for this project was funded by VicHealth and the Commonwealth Department of Health & Ageing.
  • Stage 1 of AQUA was funded by a project grant from the National Health & Medical Research Council from 2011 to 2014.
  • The collection of biosamples at birth was supported by the McCusker Charitable Foundation.
  • Aspects of the epigenetic work were funded by the Jack Brockhoff Foundation, and Financial Markets for Children.
  • The project also received funding from the Murdoch CHildren's Research Institute.