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Assessment of nutritional status, body composition, motor- and neurodevelopment in preterm and term children aged 2-4 years: an international, multicentre study.

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

  , Dr Rianne Costello,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Oxford Brookes University,

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences,

Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work

Masters by Research one year, full-time self-funded programme

Start date: September 2022

Eligibility: Applicants require a good Honours degree (2.1 or equivalent) in Nutrition or a related scientific subject.

Applicants should have a first or upper second-class honours degree from a Higher Education Institution or acceptable equivalent qualification in biological science or related discipline. Non-UK Applicants must have a valid IELTS Academic test certificate (or equivalent) with an overall minimum score of 7.0 and no score below 6.0 issued in the last 2 years by an approved test centre. 

Project Title: Assessment of nutritional status, body composition, motor- and neurodevelopment in preterm and term children aged 2-4 years: an international, multicentre study.

Director of Studies and main supervisor: Dr Shelly Coe

2nd supervisors: Dr Rianne Costello, Dr Jonathan Tammam

Project Description:

Preterm birth (<37 weeks gestation) has been associated with disease in later life including cardiovascular

disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and mortality. However, little research has explored the various causes of preterm pregnancies, and the impact of environment, including nutrition in pre- and postgestation, on the development of children born preterm. This project will be conducted in collaboration with the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health (University of Oxford), who lead a multicentre project called The International Fetal and Newborn Growth Consortium for the 21st Century (INTERGROWTH-21st). The aims are to assess child growth, motor- and neurodevelopment in suboptimal conditions such as maternal infections, malnutrition and pregnancy complications, in early pregnancy. The INTERPRACTICE-21st project is an extension from the INTERGROWTH-21st project. INTERPRACTICE-21st has three aims (1) to provide an in-depth assessment into pregnancies that experience either intrauterine growth restriction or other preterm birth syndromes, in six countries (2) and in populations with different risk profiles (e.g., those in resource poor settings), (3) and the impact nutrition has on growth and development compared to healthy pregnancies. Estimates of body composition in this population are derived from measurements of body mass and height and compared to normative growth standards. However, this is not a useful way of determining the individual’s body composition because it cannot distinguish between body fat and muscle mass. A novel, standardised approach for performing accurate measurements of adipose tissue has been developed by the International Olympic Committee Working Group on Body Composition, Health and Performance utilising B-mode ultrasound (US). The standardised US method has recently been validated in children (3-6 years), and has shown inter- and intra-observer reliability with SAT measurements.

This proposed research will explore, for the first time, the potential use of the standardised US method alongside dietary assessment in children 2-4 years in the UK.

The project will be based in the Centre for Nutrition and Health at Oxford Brookes University. https://www.brookes.ac.uk/shssw/nutrition/research/oxbcnh/.

For further information on the project please email: Dr Shelly Coe, . NB Please note that this is a self-funded research project, and the academic fees and bench fees must be paid for by the successful applicant.

How to apply:

Email the Research Administrator for an application pack. Completed application forms should be returned to by the deadline advised.

Funding Notes

This is a self funded research project. Applicants need to have adequate funds to meet the costs of a self-funded research project including tuition fees and living expenses for the duration of the research programme.


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