The Raine Study
The Raine Study, established in 1989, was one of the very first Developmental Origins of Health and Disease studies in the world. It was the first and largest pregnancy cohort study in the world to include detailed fetal measurements. It has been decades, however, since the Raine study was established. There have been many changes in lifestyles, nutrition, environment and behaviour, which are posing new questions about their impact on health.
We have also seen the emergence of many 'new' health challenges, including the dramatic increasing burden of obesity in children, the allergy epidemic and an increasing burden of mental ill health, especially in children and youth. These diseases collectively are known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs). All of these conditions have their 'origins' in early life, and there is a pressing need to understand how the early environment is contributing to this unsustainable health burden. It is estimated that the current generation of children will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, simply because of obesity and its complications. Early interventions will be the only way to curtail this situation.
Since the Raine Study began, there have been substantial advances in this multidisciplinary field including the emerging role of the 'microbiome' in all aspects of health, and the study of a 'epigenetics' as a new frontier in understanding critical genetic and environmental influences during early development.
The recent establishment of the Clinical School at the Joondalup Health Campus provides the perfect opportunity and an ideal environment to build a new birth cohort. The Campus participates in the training of medical, midwifery and nursing students through clinical placements. This is a well-integrated multidisciplinary team with strong links to the community and multiple academic institutions including the University of Western Australia, Curtin University and Edith Cowan University. There is considerable collaboration and commitment to establishing a strong research program in this new setting.