Long-term impact of moderate and late preterm birth: effects on neurodevelopment, brain development and respiratory health at school age

Research Opportunity
PhD
Department
Paediatrics
Location
Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Professor Jeanie Cheong jeanie.cheong@thewomens.org.au +61 3 8345 3771

Summary The Victorian Infant Brain Studies group at The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute is seeking a PhD student to join their team on a project investigating the impact of moderate-late preterm (MLP; 32 to <37 weeks’ gestation) birth on neurodevelopment, brain development, and respiratory health at 9 years of age. The majority of preterm births are attributed to MLP births, and there is a growing evidence-base demonstrating that children born MLP experience more adverse outcomes in early childhood than their term-born peers.

Project Details

The Victorian Infant Brain Studies group at The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute is seeking a PhD student to join their team on a project investigating the impact of moderate-late preterm (MLP; 32 to <37 weeks’ gestation) birth on neurodevelopment, brain development, and respiratory health at 9 years of age. The majority of preterm births are attributed to MLP births, and there is a growing evidence-base demonstrating that children born MLP experience more adverse outcomes in early childhood than their term-born peers. Specifically, children born MLP experience increased respiratory morbidity in infancy and early childhood than their term-born peers. Our previous research has also found that infants born MLP have smaller and less mature brains than term-born infants at term-equivalent age, although less is known about brain changes over time in this population.

Within the larger project, children in the study are wearing a tri-axial accelerometer to measure physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep patterns for one week, as well as completing a self-reported physical activity questionnaire. The PhD student will investigate one of the following areas in relation to these activity data:

  • The association between physical activity levels and brain function in 9-year-old children born MLP compared with term-born controls. Children are undergoing brain MRI, and the PhD student will be supported by experts in the area of neuroimaging.
  • The association between physical activity levels and respiratory function in 9-year-old children born MLP compared with term-born controls. The project contains rich data concerning respiratory health, as children are completing lung function tests and we are collecting data on respiratory symptoms and diagnoses.
  • The associations between sleep duration and quality and cognitive/behavioural outcomes in 9-year-old children born MLP compared with term-born controls. We are collecting detailed neuropsychological data, such as IQ, memory and academic achievement, alongside data concerning behavioural problems.


Faculty Research Themes

Child Health

School Research Themes

Child Health in Medicine



Research Opportunities

PhD
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department

Paediatrics

Research Node

Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

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