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16 Oct 2015

New study to look at factors affecting child growth and development

Loughborough University has been awarded a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to investigate the impact of ethnicity, social standing and economic situation on the growth and development of children and adolescents.

The study will form part of the Healthy Birth, Growth and Development knowledge integration (HBGDki) initiative.  This aims to extract insights from past and ongoing research funded by the Foundation, and others in the field, by pooling together data from individual studies that will be made available to qualified researchers.

This pooled data will be used to generate predictive models that measure the impact of actions to reduce the risk of malnutrition and infection/inflammation, as well as to improve gut function, during critical child growth and development stages.  It is hoped it will enable the development of effective targeted interventions to achieve better return on investment in child nutrition programs.

The Loughborough project will be led by Professor Barry Bogin and Dr Ines Varela-Silva from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and focus on data collected in Mexico and Guatemala.  They will be working with researchers from the Department of Human Ecology at the Centre for Advanced Studies in Merida, Mexico, and the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala.

Data has been collected on child growth and development in Guatemala since 1953 when Dr Robert B MacVean wanted to compare the findings of child development studies conducted in the United States with child growth and maturation in a less economically developed nation.

The Loughborough team and its partners will work together to organise the existing data into more useful formats so that it allows for:

  • A better understanding of the relationship between child growth trajectories and risk factors that contribute to physical and cognitive growth and development faltering
  • Accurate prediction of physical and cognitive growth and development trajectories from both complete and incomplete data
  • The formulation of new recommendations for targeting potential programmes to improve cognitive and physical growth trajectories of children identified at high risk.

Speaking about the Loughborough study, Professor Bogin said: “There is a wealth of data already out there on child growth and maturation.  Through better organisation of this data we hope to be able to get a much better understanding of how ethnicity, social standing and economic situation impact on the growth and development of children and adolescents.  This could lead to much more effective interventions for children at risk of impaired development on a global scale.”

Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 15/195

  1. The grant awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is for $218,136.

  2. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

    It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. It was 2nd in the 2015 THE Student Experience Survey and was named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

    In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

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Judy Wing

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Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697
E: J.L.Wing@lboro.ac.uk