Investigate human reproductionThis research group investigates all aspects of human reproduction. The primary question underlying our research is: how can we prevent something from going wrong before, during or after pregnancy?
Nel Roeleveld explains
Getting pregnant cannot be taken for granted. And pregnancy sometimes leads to all sorts of complications for mother and child. What causes these problems? The Reproductive Epidemiology research group of the Department for Health Evidence investigates all aspects of human reproduction. The primary question underlying our research is: how can we prevent something from going wrong before, during or after pregnancy?
Q1 What types of research does the group conduct?
To investigate all aspects of human reproduction.
''The Reproductive Epidemiology group conducts research into problems such as infertility, pregnancy complications, premature birth, low birth weight and birth defects. We also investigate disorders that occur during pregnancy but become apparent only afterwards, such as mental retardation, autism and childhood tumours. Sometimes the cause is genetic, but can also be related to excesses or deficiencies of certain nutrients, substances in the working or living environment of the parents, smoking, or the use of alcohol, drugs or medication. We pay attention to the health of both mother and child. For example, some women have high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy. We investigate the probability of this becoming a permanent condition or returning later on.''
Q2 What do you collect with comparative research?
''For this purpose we collect large amounts of research data, mostly by using questionnaires. For example, we compare information about children with birth defects with information from parents selected from a cross section of the population. As part of this research, we look for differences during pregnancy that can increase the risk of birth defects. In addition, we track a large group of women from the beginning of their pregnancy. They answer questions about medication use and other potential risk factors. We also conduct research to detect variations in genes that result in a higher risk of negative pregnancy outcomes for some people.''
Q3 How is this research made possible?
''This research is made possible by the cooperation of many parents, expectant parents and their healthcare providers. Their experiences, such as having children with birth defects, provide us with much information and enable us to advise other people about potential risks. Prevention is also extremely important, because birth defects can usually not be cured.''
"Having children is an important part of life for many people. It is terrible if they are unable to do so. And a miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defect is one of the worst things that can happen to any of us. Our aim is to ensure that all women can become pregnant and have healthy children.”