Investigators in the College of Public Health will lead a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to evaluate newborn metabolic biomarkers for their ability to predict gestational age, and identify associations between them and long-term academic achievement.
The project will analyze existing data on gestational age, newborn metabolic profiles and academic tests from the population of children born in Iowa over the past three decades and will identify the most predictive biomarkers of gestational age and academic achievement. The investigators will also evaluate how much metabolic markers explain differences in educational achievement by gestational age. In the future they will expand their method to developing countries to help estimate gestational age and identify newborns at risk of neurodevelopmental impairments and poor academic achievement.
This project is funded through the Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, which fosters creative projects that show great promise to improve the health of people in the developing world.
George Wehby, associate professor of health management and policy at the University of Iowa College of Public Health is leading the project. Other University of Iowa investigators and collaborators include Kelli Ryckman, assistant professor of epidemiology; the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa; and Iowa Testing Programs, a research, development, and outreach unit in the University of Iowa College of Education.
New research led by Kelli Ryckman, assistant professor of epidemiology, shows that lower birth weight is associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes in white and black postmenopausal women in the U.S.
“Our findings confirm what we’ve seen with other studies in that low birth weight is a risk factor for later life type 2 diabetes,” says Ryckman. “What was unique about our study is that it was a large cohort of postmenopausal women who were very diverse in ethnicity and race.”