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Brain development study in twins

Brain development and thinking skills begins before birth and maturation occurs mainly between the ages of 7 to 11. It is influenced by both genetics and environment. With the data that we have collected during your pregnancy, it will allow us an important opportunity to examine the relationship between early life factors and mid-childhood brain development. To our knowledge, no other studies have done this comprehensively!

We are delighted to announce that we have secured funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to invite all our twins who are turning 11 years old for a session of cognitive assessment! These assessments are administered by an experience clinical neuropsychologist and families will also receive a report of the assessments. For twins that are of the same sex, they are being invited for a brain scan using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Recruitment is scheduled to go on for 2.5 years (July 2018 till December 2020) and so far we have seen close to 40 families. If your twins have turned 11 and have not heard from us, please contact us as soon as possible, so that you do not miss out on this opportunity to participate in this exciting phase of the study!

Access to birth records 

We are also currently contacting all our families to ask whether we can access the hospital records about the birth of the twins. Some of you will have already received this request. We hope to be able to collect information from these records from as many families as possible. This is because since you were recruited to the project, our understanding of how early life can predict future health and disease has improved. It is now clear that we could gain a much better insight if we could clarify some of the information collected from you during your pregnancy and the delivery of your twins. To ensure the information collected is accurate, we would like to access the pregnancy and birth medical records for you and your twins. In some cases, we will be seeking to confirm information already collected from you through questionnaires. In others, we will be seeking information about new factors that we did not ask previously that are related to those we have already collected. An example of how this information could be used is to learn more about:   

  • developmental anomalies of the teeth
  • the relationship between genes, the environment in the womb, and tooth decay
  • whether there are early predictors of autism
  • the relationship between growth in the womb and later body weight
  • the relationship between growth in infancy and blood pressure at age six.

And as with all our previous study waves, your consent is optional.
For more information on PETS, who we are what we have found, please see our PETS poster.