We seek faster solutions to today’s ‘wicked’ childhood problems, such as obesity, language and learning problems and mental health issues. We seek better health and wellbeing both for our children now and for the older adults they will become.
We innovate via:
- Flexible, multi-use platforms that span cell to society and conception to grave
- Methods to precisely measure multiple health domains within the same population study
- Bringing rigorous trials and observational research together in the same platforms
- Making our datasets available for all researchers.
Our vision is that the pace, scope and versatility of children’s population research steps up to truly understand “how healthy development happens, how it can be derailed and what societies can do to keep it on track”.
The Prevention Innovation group is closely linked with the Generation Victoria (GenV) initiative and with the Health Services and Policy, Equity & Translation groups.
Faecal microbial signatures and later childhood behavioural outcomes: The Baby Biotics Study was the largest randomised controlled trial of probiotics for infant colic. The probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri was not effective for breastfed and formula-fed infants with colic in Melbourne, Australia. Baby In a collaboration with RMIT, we are analysing stored faecal samples from Baby Biotics participants to determine whether early microbial signatures for infants with colic predict their later behavioural outcomes.
CHAMP consensus guidelines on managing childhood hearing loss
The Childhood Hearing Australasian Medical Professionals (CHAMP) network is a group of paediatricians, otolaryngologists, geneticists and neurologists who care for children with hearing loss in Australasia. Establishing national consensus guidelines to help clinicians manage these children optimally is CHAMP’s first priority.
CLARE: Child LAnguage Repository
Language may be a key determinant of intergenerational health – but few population studies measure it. CLARE exists to advance the science of how language develops, what goes wrong and when and how to intervene. At its core are our Prevention Innovation trials and cohorts. Uniquely, these represent children with impaired as well as normal hearing: Let’s Learn Language, Language for Learning, Memory Maestros, SCOUT and the Children in Victoria with Hearing Impairment Outcome Study (CHIVOS). CLARE also holds DNA from nearly 6000 children.
CODA: Childhood Obesity - Data to Action
Obesity trials are often mounted without a strong epidemiologic basis indicative of success. CODA is applying a causal modelling framework to the rich Growing Up in Australia and Growing Up in New Zealand datasets to estimate how effective different approaches to childhood obesity might be. We hope this will generate productive new directions for obesity trials. CODA is a partnership between the Universities of Auckland and South Australia and the MCRI.
Growth and metabolic risk in the first decade
Obesity affects one in four children and is strongly implicated in adult “diseases of ageing”, especially heart disease and diabetes. Using the novel CheckPoint data, we are exploring which early growth patterns (measured biennially in Growing Up in Australia) are most damaging to adolescent cardiometabolic health (lipids/inflammation). Ultimately, we hope that better prediction will avoid unnecessary intervention, while targeting research and treatment to those children with most to gain.
The New Zealand-Australia Collaboration on Genes, Environment, Nutrition & Obesity: Good nutrition begins in early life and lies at the heart of health. Yet Australia and New Zealand face a crisis of overnutrition and malnutrition: too much of the wrong foods, with resulting epidemics of obesity and inflammatory diseases of ageing. This systems biology partnership with the Liggins Institute (University of Auckland) is building population micronutrient platforms and leading discovery in networks between genes, environment, molecular physiology and health across early- and mid-life.
HearS-cCMV: The Hearing Screening for congenital CytoMegaloVirus (CMV) project
Congenital CMV is the most common non-genetic cause of congenital hearing loss. HearS-cCMV is piloting the feasibility of early saliva screening, aiming to establish a system to identify congenital CMV early in the hope of improving outcomes. HearS-cCMV is a collaborative project with the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program (VIHSP), the Royal Women’s Hospital, the Mercy Hospital for Women, Monash Medical Centre and Sunshine Hospital, Western Health.
Mild Matters RCT
Hearing aids help babies with moderate to severe hearing loss, but the benefits are less clear cut for babies with mild losses. This randomised trial aims to determine how much early hearing aids help these babies. Mild Matters is a collaborative study with the National Acoustic Laboratories, Australian Hearing and the University of Melbourne.
Insights into managing mild congenital hearing loss: Early management of babies with mild hearing loss raises many questions both for clinicians and parents. This qualitative study aims to explore what factors influence audiologists’ decisions to offer/not offer hearing aids early to these babies, and parental perceptions of the early management options offered, including the benefits versus burdens of hearing aids. Mild Matters is a collaborative study with the National Acoustic Laboratories, Australian Hearing and the University of Melbourne.
The Child Health CheckPoint
This national study is the cross-generational biophysical module for the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). In 2015-16, it measured multiple health domains relevant to diseases of ageing in nearly 2000 parent-child pairs when the children were aged 11-12 years old. Its first data release in May 2018 is available now, linked to the LSAC dataset. Its biological and digital repositories are held at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute – we welcome enquiries regarding further data derivation and use.
The Let’s Nudge pilot trial to reduce obesity
Obesity is resistant to educational behaviour change interventions. In contrast, nudge theory directly and continuously targets the minute-by-minute small choices that underpin people’s daily behaviour. Our novel pilot intervention couples a tailored suite of home ‘nudge’ modifications with systematic paediatrician management of obesity’s comorbidities.
The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC, Growing Up in Australia)
Designed to examine “the impact of Australia’s unique social, economic and cultural environment on the next generation”, LSAC is Australia’s largest and only nationally representative children’s longitudinal study. Since 2004 it has collected eight biennial waves of social, economic, and physical health data. The dataset is accessible to all researchers, linked with health, education and social datasets and (as of 2018) the MCRI’s Child Health Checkpoint. Melissa Wake has been its Health Design Leader since inception.
VicCHILD: The Victorian Childhood Hearing Impairment Longitudinal Databank
VicCHILD is a research databank to support advances in prediction, treatments, prevention (and perhaps even reversal) for childhood hearing loss. It is continuously open to all children born with hearing loss in Victoria, in partnership with the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program. With 700 participants as of early 2018, it provides an ever-growing base of biological, psychosocial, clinical and service information across the lifecourse.
- A brief survey to identify pregnant women experiencing increased psychosocial and socioeconomic risk. 2018
- A replicable, low-burden mechanism for observing, recording and analysing mother-child interaction in population research. 2018
- A replicable, low-burden mechanism for observing, recording, and analysing mother-child interaction in population research. 2018
- Associations between maternal responsive linguistic input and child language performance at age 4 in a community-based sample of slow-to-talk toddlers. 2018
- Associations of mental health with cardiovascular risk phenotypes and adiposity in adolescence: A cross-sectional community-based study. 2018
- Behavioral Outcomes of Infant Colic in Toddlerhood: A Longitudinal Study. 2018
- Body Image Dissatisfaction and the Adrenarchal Transition. 2018
- Bone health, activity and sedentariness at age 11-12 years: Cross-sectional Australian population-derived study. 2018
- Caring for crying babies: A mixed-methods study to understand factors influencing nurses' and doctors' management of infant colic. 2018
- Childhood dietary trajectories and adolescent cardiovascular phenotypes: Australian community-based longitudinal study. 2018
- Cohort Profile: The Early Language in Victoria Study (ELVS). 2018
- Cross-sectional epidemiology of hearing loss in Australian children aged 11-12 years old and 25-year secular trends. 2018
- Data resource profile: The Child LAnguage REpository (CLARE). 2018
- Development of white matter fibre density and morphology over childhood: A longitudinal fixel-based analysis. 2018
- Do Fathers' Home Reading Practices at Age 2 Predict Child Language and Literacy at Age 4? 2018
- Eating behavior and body composition across childhood: a prospective cohort study. 2018
- EHLS at School: school-age follow-up of the Early Home Learning Study cluster randomized controlled trial. 2018
- How body composition influences hearing status by mid-childhood and mid-life: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. 2018
- Impact of a Behavioral Sleep Intervention on New School Entrants' Social Emotional Functioning and Sleep: A Translational Randomized Trial. 2018
- Inequity in Access to Paediatric Care for Developmental and Behavioural Versus Medical Problems in Australia: A National Survey. 2018
- Infantile colic. 2018
- Lactobacillus reuteri to Treat Infant Colic: A Meta-analysis. 2018
- One day you'll wake up and won't have to go to work: The impact of changes in time use on mental health following retirement. 2018
- Parent-reported prevalence and persistence of 19 common child health conditions. 2018
- Parental health behaviour predictors of childhood and adolescent dietary trajectories. 2018
- Research priority setting in childhood chronic disease: a systematic review. 2018
- Response inhibition and emotional cognition improved by atomoxetine in children and adolescents with ADHD: The ACTION randomized controlled trial. 2018
- Rethinking the sleep-health link. 2018
- Ten useful things to observe in a developmental-behavioural encounter. 2018
- Ten useful things to observe in a developmental-behavioural encounter. 2018
- The failure of anti-obesity programmes in schools. 2018
- Tics and Tourette syndrome. 2018
- Translational delivery of Cool Little Kids to prevent child internalising problems: Randomised controlled trial. 2018
- Trauma exposure in children with and without ADHD: prevalence and functional impairment in a community-based study of 6-8-year-old Australian children. 2018
- Trends in prevalence and management of childhood anxiety by Australian pediatricians. 2018
- A protocol for whole-exome sequencing in newborns with congenital deafness: a prospective population-based cohort. 2017
- Changes in verbal and visuospatial working memory from Grade 1 to Grade 3 of primary school: Population longitudinal study. 2017
- Maternal communicative behaviours and interaction quality as predictors of language development: findings from a community-based study of slow-to-talk toddlers. 2017
- The Prevalence of Food Sensitization Appears Not to Have Changed between 2 Melbourne Cohorts of High-Risk Infants Recruited 15 Years Apart. 2017
- The role of schools in the diagnosis of ADHD. 2017
- Exploring Behavioral Sleep Problems in Children With ADHD and Comorbid Autism Spectrum Disorder. 2015
- Physical Functioning, Emotional, and Behavioral Problems in Children With ADHD and Comorbid ASD: A Cross-Sectional Study. 2015
- National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
- NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE)
- National Centre for Longitudinal Studies
- Garnett Passe and Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation
- Cure Kids New Zealand
- Foundation for Children
- RCH Foundation
- Mercy Hospital for Women
- Healthy Hearing, Children’s health Queensland Hospital and Health Service
Top 5 current/key external collaborations:
- Liggins Institute, The University of Auckland, New Zealand
- Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA), University of South Australia
- National Centre for Longitudinal Data, Australian Department of Social Services: Longitudinal Study of Australian Children Consortium Advisory Group
- Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
- Department of Paediatrics, The University of Auckland, New Zealand
- VicCHILD’s statewide network of stakeholders, CHAMP national medical network, CMV statewide collaboration (all led by Dr Valerie Sung)
- MGHA Deafness Flagship; Victorian Infant Hearing Screening program; National Acoustic Laboratories