Life Course and Intergenerational Health Group

We seek to understand the interplay of social and biological factors that influence health over the life course.

Early life is the foundation for future health and life potential. The growth and development of a child, both before and after birth, are intimately linked to the health and wellbeing of the mother. In turn, a woman’s health is influenced by her current family circumstances, her own life experiences, and her health inheritance from previous generations.

A major focus of the Life Course and Intergenerational Health Group (LIGHt) is how chronic diseases and their risk factors are transmitted from parents to the next generation and how we could intervene to improve this situation. We are investigating this area using cohort studies to look at the origins of congenital malformations, reproductive disorders, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

It is increasingly clear that environmental factors in early life are major determinants of chronic disease risk in later life. Recently we showed that sleep disturbances were almost twice as common in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Assessment and management of sleep problems in these women would improve quality of life and could forestall deterioration in cardio-metabolic health over time.

We are also undertaking epidemiological, anthropological and other research to understand how to improve the health of disadvantaged women. We contributed to work to understand the low rate of testing for fetal anomalies among pregnant Aboriginal women. Impediments to organising testing were identified, with recommendations made—such as, that testing and relevant counselling be undertaken by Aboriginal health practitioners.

Interested in a postgraduate research degree?

We offer exciting opportunities for researchers at the honours, masters and PhD levels. Our research degrees are open to students from a broad range of backgrounds, and range from basic sciences to clinical research. If you are interested in human health, consider furthering your research career with us.

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