Beyond Birth Weight Workshop

What was the aim of the workshop?

I organised the Beyond Birth Weight Workshop with Prof Mark Hanson (University of Southampton) in October 2014. We sought to find new ways of measuring the health of fetuses in the womb both in the past and around the world today. The current favoured indicator, birth weight, is highly problematic for a number of reasons. Thus, we gathered an interdisciplinary group of scholars including medical doctors, epidemiologists, economists, historians, demographers and anthropologists to try to move beyond birth weight to others indicators of fetal health. We have been kindly sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, the Economic History Society, the International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) and the Centre for Global Health Policy at the University of Sussex.

You can read more information on the workshop here.

What is happening next?

There is more information available about the workshop here. A report on our discussion is available here or you can watch a video report of the workshop below.

We have developed two main outputs from the workshop. First, a team wrote a critical response to the INTERGROWTH-21st papers (Papageorghiou et al., 2014 and Villar et al., 2014) arguing that imposing such a fixed standard of optimal fetal growth is highly problematic. This was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2015 (see reference below). Mark and I discuss the implications of this paper in the video below.

In addition, we have started to work on a number of longer term, collaborative research projects. These include collecting more historical information on early life health; linking historical records to reconstruct life histories; using cohort studies to examine links in early life health across three generations; using Guthrie card blood spots to analyse epigenetic markers in populations going back to the 1950s; and thinking creatively about novel, inexpensive methods for collecting information on early life health in surveys in developing countries. These projects will provide a basis for future grant applications and workshops.

Research Outputs

Research Papers

Workshop Report