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New study to examine the impact of nutrients before and during pregnancy on the health of mothers and their babies Posted on: 29 July 2015

New study to examine the impact of nutrients before and during pregnancy on the health of mothers and their babies

29 July 2015: Researchers in the United Kingdom (Southampton), Singapore and New Zealand (Auckland) from the EpiGen Global Research Consortium are to trial the use of a combination of nutrients and probiotics before and during pregnancy in a bid to improve the health of mothers and their babies.

Researchers at the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRC LEU), University of Southampton, National University of Singapore (NUS) and National University Health System (NUHS) , Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and the Liggins Institute and Auckland UniServices at the University of Auckland have developed the trial in collaboration with researchers at the Nestlé Research Center.

Increasing evidence shows the mother’s nutritional state as she enters pregnancy is important for the baby’s development. For example, if the mother has high blood sugar levels it can predispose the baby to having increased body fat in later life. The researchers will evaluate the benefits of the nutrients to the mother and baby. They will study the effects on maintaining healthy blood sugar, vitamin and mineral levels in the mother, and the potential to promote a healthy pregnancy and healthy growth and development of the child. In addition, the study will evaluate the impact on the activity of the baby’s genes (so-called “epigenetic” mechanisms).

The study will recruit 1,800 women, before they conceive, across three centres in Southampton, Singapore and Auckland. Participants will be asked to drink the nutrients twice a day before pregnancy and to continue during pregnancy. The trial’s full title is: Nutritional Intervention Preconception and during Pregnancy to maintain healthy glucosE levels and offspRing health (NiPPeR).

Chief Investigator Keith Godfrey, Professor of Epidemiology and Human Development at the MRC LEU, University of Southampton, comments: “The pre-conception phase is very important to ensure women are getting the best nutrition in preparation for their pregnancy. By starting before conception, we hope that there will be better outcomes for the mother and baby. Should significant impact on maintaining health and supporting early development be demonstrated, it could have implications for health policy and strengthen arguments for the provision of pre-conceptional nutritional advice to the general population.”

Associate Professor Chong Yap Seng, Principal Investigator of the study in Singapore and Executive Director of the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences states, “This study can help women prepare for pregnancy by optimising their nutritional status so that their newborn babies will have the best start to life.” He adds, “Through this novel study, we can glean new insights into the long-term effects of pre-conception nutrition on the health of future offspring. This has significant potential to change the way we manage prenatal care and nutrition. Greater awareness has the potential to improve public health in the long run.” Associate Professor Chong is a faculty member with the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine as well as Senior Consultant with the National University Hospital under NUHS.

The study is the latest trial in the partnership between the EpiGen Global Research Consortium and the Nestlé Research Center.

“We are excited to move into this next stage of our collaboration as it harnesses the knowledge generated thus far, to study a nutritional intervention aimed at improving the health of mothers and their children. The trial may also generate new information that can be used to advise women on the optimal nutrition before and during pregnancy for a healthy pregnancy outcome, and for the future health of their babies” says Thomas Beck, Head of the Nestlé Research Center.

Women in Singapore interested in taking part are invited to join the study by contacting the NiPPeR team at the National University Hospital at 1800-S-NiPPeR (1800-7-647737),, or by visiting

Notes to editors

About EpiGen
EpiGen is a global research consortium of leading investigators based at five centres in three countries (Auckland UniServices Limited, University of Southampton, Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit - University of Southampton, Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and National University of Singapore). EpiGen strives to advance understanding of the developmental and environmental processes that influence health through the lifecourse. This collaboration includes the National University Health System.

For more information on EpiGen, please visit

About the Liggins institute
The Liggins Institute is a Large-Scale Research Institute of The University of Auckland, New Zealand. The Institute’s research demonstrates the importance of children having a healthy start to life and the ongoing role of nutrition in promoting and supporting optimal health throughout life.

The multidisciplinary, translational research seeks to understand the biological mechanisms that drive critical processes during development and harness that knowledge in ways that will improve quality of life across communities and generations.

For more information on the Liggins Institute, please visit

About Auckland UniServices Limited
Auckland UniServices Limited is the commercial research, knowledge transfer and custom education company for the University of Auckland - dedicated to connecting the University’s capabilities to business and investors, Government and the community. UniServices is a wholly-owned company of the University of Auckland.

We are a substantial organisation with over 700 employees, working in 45 countries, and with access to many more academic staff from the University of Auckland. The work of UniServices supports the leadership position of the University of Auckland, and allows the University to expand and enhance its capabilities in commercial and basic research.

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that spearheads economic oriented research to advance scientific discovery and develop innovative technology. Through open innovation, we collaborate with our partners in both the public and private sectors to benefit society.

As a Science and Technology Organisation, A*STAR bridges the gap between academia and industry. Our research creates economic growth and jobs for Singapore, and enhances lives by contributing to societal benefits such as improving outcomes in healthcare, urban living, and sustainability.

We play a key role in nurturing and developing a diversity of talent and leaders in our Agency and Research Institutes, the wider research community and industry. A*STAR oversees 18 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research entities primarily located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis.

For more information on A*STAR, please visit

About the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS)
Established in 2007, the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS) is a research institute within the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and its mission is to develop disease-oriented clinical and translational research programmes in key disease areas.

SICS is distinguished by its focus on clinical sciences and the use of innovative approaches and technologies that enable the efficient and effective study of human health and diseases. The clinical scientists in SICS conduct the full spectrum of “bench to bedside” research activities in metabolic diseases (including diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance), pathways to normal growth and development (including cognitive and behavioural development), nutritional sciences as well as in certain viral infectious diseases such as chronic viral diseases.

The institute aims to attract, train and nurture clinician-scientists and to develop joint programs with universities, academic medical centres, government hospitals and research institutes.

For more information on SICS, please visit

About National University of Singapore (NUS)
A leading global university centred in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university, which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise.

NUS has 16 faculties and schools across three campuses. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 37,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives.

NUS has 3 Research Centres of Excellence (RCE) and 26 university-level research institutes and centres. It is also a partner in Singapore’s fifth RCE. NUS shares a close affiliation with 16 national-level research institutes and centres. Research activities are strategic and robust, and NUS is well-known for its research strengths in engineering, life sciences and biomedicine, social sciences and natural sciences. It also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community.

This year, NUS celebrates its 110th year of founding together with Singapore’s 50th year of independence. As the island’s first higher education institution established by the local community, NUS prides itself in nurturing generations of leaders and luminaries in Singapore and Asia.

For more information on NUS, please visit Details on NUS’ 110th Anniversary celebrations are available at

About National University Health System (NUHS)
The National University Health System (NUHS) groups the National University Hospital, the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, the NUS Faculty of Dentistry and the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health under a common governance structure to create synergies for the advancement of health by integrating clinical care, research and education.

The enhanced capabilities and capacity enable the NUHS to deliver better patient care, train future generations of doctors more effectively and bring innovative treatments to patients through groundbreaking research.

For more information on NUHS, please visit

About the University of Southampton
Through world-leading research and enterprise activities, the University of Southampton connects with businesses to create real-world solutions to global issues. Through its educational offering, it works with partners around the world to offer relevant, flexible education, which trains students for jobs not even thought of. This connectivity is what sets Southampton apart from the rest; we make connections and change the world.

For more information on the University of Southampton, please contact Mr. Charles Elder:

About the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit
The MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (LEU) was established in 2010, under the direction of Professor Cyrus Cooper, and addresses the environmental determinants of musculoskeletal and metabolic disease throughout the lifecourse. In May 2013, the unit completed its integration with the University of Southampton in a successful University-Unit Partnership (UUP). We are interested in the interplay of causes acting at different stages of the lifecourse from before conception through to old age, and the ways in which environmental influences modulate gene expression to produce disease. Through an understanding of the causes of these disorders, and evaluation of interventions at appropriate stages in the lifecourse, we aim to provide robust and timely evidence which informs policies to improve population and individual health. The unit has 75 staff and a budget of £3m per year.

About Nestlé Research Center (NRC)
With a staff of around 600 people, representing approximately 50 nationalities and a wide range of scientific disciplines, the NRC is at the heart of scientific research and innovation within Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company. The role of the NRC is to lead food and nutrition research for science-based and consumer-centric solutions to promote nutrition, health and wellness for consumers. Its research focuses on five key platforms: Healthy Ageing; Healthy Pleasure; First 1000 days and Healthy Kids; Sustainable Nutrition; and Food Safety and Integrity.

Through scientific excellence and technical knowledge, Nestlé Research translates science into products, which help fulfil Nestlé’s vision of “Good Food, Good Life” for all consumers.

For more information on NRC, please visit