This project is a pilot study to establish the feasibility and methods for a new Australian birth cohort of 1800-2000 Australian families (The Triple B Study: Bumps, Babies and Beyond). The research will examine a wide range of biopsychosocial factors that relate to the health and development of Australian children and families. The project has a key focus on examining the impacts of substance use in pregnant women and their partners during the prenatal period on infant development and family functioning. The results of this study will inform public health and treatment initiatives that improve the health and well-being of Australian children and families.
The aims of the pilot study are to:
Seventy pregnant women and their partners will be recruited during the prenatal period. Participants will be recruited though antenatal services attached to the major hospitals in Sydney. Participants will also be recruited through specialist drug and alcohol antenatal services to ensure that an adequate number of parents with substance use problems is included in the sample. Infants will be assessed at 12 months of age.
There will be five assessment waves in the cohort study: Baseline (Trimester 1: conception to 12 weeks), Follow-up I (Trimester 2: 13 weeks to 27 weeks), Follow-up II (Trimester 3: 28 weeks onwards), Follow-up III (60 days postnatal) and Follow-up IV (Infant age 12 months). Mothers will be assessed at all time points, partners will be assessed at Baseline and Follow-up IV, and infant assessments will be conducted postnatally and at Follow-up IV. Multi-method assessments will be utilised including interview, questionnaire and observational assessment measures. DNA is also being collected via cheek swab to assess epigenetic changes over the first year of life (epigenetics refers to the programming of gene expression by environmental exposures such as drug use, stress, or diet).
Pilot data was collected antenatally and at birth on 100 women and babies from the public antenatal clinic; 42 substance abusing pregnant women and their babies; and additional antenatal, birth and postnatal patient record data from 139 substance abusing women. Over 95% of partners agreed to participate in the pilot study. The overall participation rate for the antenatal group was 77% and 62% for the clinical sample, which was high. The study protocol has therefore been proven feasible in the public antenatal services and importantly, among high-risk substance abusing participants who are more difficult to recruit and retain.
Numerous presentations have been made to staff at participating hospitals, research centres and at professional conferences.
Hutchinson, D., Mattick, R., Allsop, S., Najman, J., Elliott, E., Burns, L. & Jacobs, S. Impact of Parental Substance Use on Infant Development and Family Functioning. The Triple B Study: Bumps, Babies and Beyond. NDARC, October 2010.
Kelly, E., Hutchinson, D., Mattick, R., Burns, L. & Black, E. Substance use and mental health among pregnant women: Correlates and consequences. APSAD, Canberra, November 2010.
Hutchinson, D., Maloney, E., Mattick, R. P., Allsop, S., Najman, J., Elliott, E., Burns, L. & Jacobs, S. (2009) Parental substance use during pregnancy: Assessing maternal psychosocial characteristics, obstetric and neonatal outcomes. Poster presented at Australasian Professional Society of Alcohol and Other Drugs Conference, Darwin, 3rd November, 2009
Abstract published - Hutchinson, D., Maloney, E., Mattick, R., Allsop, S., Najman, J., Elliott, E., Burns, L. & Jacobs, S. (2009) What are the impacts of mothers and partners substance use during pregnancy? Assessing the psychosocial characteristics, obstetric, and neonatal outcomes, Drug and Alcohol Review, vol. 28 (Supplement 1), pg A31