Local Kinross resident, Sheridan Brayshaw has done more than her bit for health science, from before she was even born.
Twenty-seven year old Sheridan is part of the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study and has been since her mother was pregnant with her.
She was recently the 500th member of the cohort to participate in a series of health tests as part of the study’s “Generation 2” 27 year old follow up, which is studying the genetic and early life factors that predict cardio-metabolic health and disease.
2900 pregnant women (Generation 1) were recruited into the study from 1989 to 1991 and participants, like Sheridan, have been involved in follow-ups and tests from birth through to young adulthood.
“When I was younger, I never really understood the significance of what I was involved in,” Sheridan said.
“But now I can see just how invaluable the findings are and will continue to be.
“Over 27 years the Raine Study has a comprehensive health history of a group of people like me – including maternal health, environmental impacts on health, genetics, social environment and more.
“I am so proud to be part of it all now,” she said.
The Raine Study is one of the most richly detailed prospective multi-generational cohorts of pregnancy, childhood, adolescence and now early adulthood to be carried out anywhere in the world.
It was established in 1989 to determine how events during pregnancy and childhood influence health in later life.
Four generations of families are now involved in the study with data collected on Grandparents (Generation 0), Parents (Generation 1), Children (Generation 2) and now Grandchildren (Generation 3) from the same family.
With over 450 research papers published since that time, some key findings have included: Establishing the safety of ultrasounds and the standard of prenatal ultrasound scanning worldwide; the identification of genes associated with lung function, birthweight, puberty and language development; the benefits of breastfeeding on weight, asthma, allergies and behavioural problems; the impact of diet on behaviour and school achievement in adolescents and teenagers; the impact of Vitamin D levels on allergies and asthma; and the benefits of organised sport as a child as a trajectory to health in adulthood.
The 27-year follow-up that Sheridan has been involved in includes a range of questionnaires, blood tests, urine samples, faecal samples, MRI scans, full body DXA scans, 3D photography of their faces and more.
Researchers are currently looking into many other areas of study including gut health, vision, mental health, spinal pain, activity and sleep as well as work habits.
Meanwhile, the children of Sheridan’s cohort who have turned two, are now members of the ‘Generation 3 cohort’. Similar tests are being done on these children as were done on the original Raine Study cohort as part of key longitudinal data collection and Sheridan’s own children are now part of it.
“My children recently were part of their very first Raine Study series of tests at the same time I did my 27 year follow up and gosh, what an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia it was,” Sheridan said.
“I am also so proud to have them be part of something that has been a big part of my own life as I feel like we are really carrying on something so important.”