Lesley-Anne Henry PhD student

Psychology Research Institute
 Picture of Lesley-Anne   Henry

Title: Epigenetic Effects on Children’s Psychosocial Development in a Randomised Trial of Folic Acid Supplementation in the Second and Third Trimesters (FASSTT Study)

Start date: October 2015

The overarching aim of this collaborative project is to use a biopsychosocial approach to determine the role of maternal folate status during pregnancy on cognitive, social and emotional development of offspring and explore how this correlates with methylation changes in the genome.

Preliminary findings using this sample have shown the beneficial effect of folic acid supplementation during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy on children’s cognition and psychological health and development. Children were assessed at ages 3 and 7 years to determine the differences between the children whose mothers continued supplementation throughout pregnancy (experimental) and those children whose mothers ceased supplementation at 12 gestational weeks (control). The findings identified differences between the groups in some areas of language development, cognition, emotional intelligence and resilience; reinforcing the need for further investigation. My PhD will assess these children now aged 10 years with psychological measures of resilience, strengths and difficulties and attachment. Other areas of interest to the research group include neuroimaging using Magnetoencephalography (MEG) used to map brain activity in the children and testing for any alterations in DNA methylation. This ongoing longitudinal study is in collaboration with Nutrition, Epigenetics, Stratified Medicine and Intelligent Systems and is funded by ESRC/BBSRC and received an enabling award from the Public Health Agency.