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Birth weights and other anthropometrics of neonates as a mirror of (maternal) living standards in Lausanne, 1905-1925

English title Birth weights and other anthropometrics of neonates as a mirror of (maternal) living standards in Lausanne, 1905-1925
Applicant Staub Kaspar
Number 197305
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Evolutionäre Medizin IEM Medizinische Fakultät Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Swiss history
Start/End 01.07.2021 - 30.06.2024
Approved amount 617'276.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Discipline
Swiss history
Economics
Paediatrics
Public Health and Health Services

Keywords (15)

Fetal origin of adult disease hypothesis; Placenta weight; Intergenerational transmission; Pandemic; Neonatal health; (Maternal) living standards; Sample selection Bias; Maternal adult height; Economic & Social History; Spatial modelling; Birthweight; Spanish Flu 1918/1919; General Additive Modelling (GAM); Anthropometric History

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Der Gesundheitszustand von Neugeborenen ist ein aktuelles Thema, auch wegen der damit verbundenen langfristigen gesundheitlichen Folgen später im Leben oder sogar für die nächste Generation. Dies gilt auch für historische Gesellschaften, wenn Veränderungen in der Körperform der Neugeborenen (Geburtsgewicht, etc.) Veränderungen der (mütterlichen) Gesundheit widerspiegeln. In diesem Projekt analysieren wir das Geburtsgewicht und andere Indikatoren des neonatalen/mütterlichen Gesundheitszustands bei Mutter-Kind-Paaren aus dem Frauenspital in Lausanne, 1905-1925.
Lay summary

Die Identifizierung von Determinanten, die eine normale Entwicklung und das Wachstum des Fötus behindern/begünstigen, ist von hoher Relevanz. Ein wichtiges Instrument zur Untersuchung des fetalen Wachstums sind anthropometrische Parameter von Neugeborenen. Die Archivquellen des Frauenspitals ermöglichen es beispielsweise, die Auswirkungen der Spanischen Grippe in der Schwangerschaft auf die Anthropometrie von Neugeborenen zu untersuchen. Wir transkribieren Informationen von über ca. N=15'000 Geburten in Lausanne, 1905-1925. Wir konzentrieren uns a) auf zeitliche und andere Determinanten der Gesundheit von Neugeborenen (z.B. Spanische Grippe, sozioökonomische Position, Grösse der Mutter, etc.); b) auf die räumlich-zeitliche Modellierung historischer Geburtsgewichte zur Identifizierung von «cold spots» und «hot spots»; c) auf die Entwicklung einer statistischen Methode zur Anpassung an einen potentiellen «Sample Selection Bias»; und d) auf eine vergleichende Analyse durch Meta-Analyse von Individualdaten aus Lausanne mit ähnlichen Daten aus Basel und Bern (aus einem früheren Projekt).

Unsere historische Perspektive kann sich als wertvoll für heutige Verhältnisse erweisen, da sie eine retrospektive Untersuchung von ungünstigen perinatalen Umgebungen auf Gesundheitsparameter ermöglicht.


Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 05.10.2020

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Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
109802 Der biologische Lebensstandard in der Schweiz von 1800 bis 1930 01.10.2005 Project funding (Div. I-III)
156683 Birth weight of newborns as a mirror of women’s standard of living: Evidence from birth records in the city of Basle 1888-1939 01.01.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Neonatal health remains an ongoing cause for concern today, also because of the long-term negative health outcomes associated with later in life (fetal origins of adult disease hypothesis) and for the next generation. Identifying determinants that impede normal fetal development and growth are crucial. An important tool for studying impaired fetal growth are anthropometric parameters of newborn infants. The influencing factors on neonatal anthropometrics are multifactorial. Among others, also in utero exposure to influenza has a negative effect. Moreover, the nutritional/health status of the mother (indirectly during her own childhood and directly during pregnancy) and her standard of living play an important role in this crucial moment of intergenerational transmission of health and wealth to the child.This was true also for past societies, when changes in the size and shape of the newborn body reflect changes in health and well-being among a given historic population. Therefore, anthropometric historians studied birth weights as a mirror of (female) living standard since the 1990s. Women are still under-researched regarding historical standards of living. This is striking as mothers have a unique role, since their accumulated health status since early childhood (mirrored by adult height) also shapes the next generations.This project expands a previous and successful SNSF project which investigated neonatal health in Basel (and Bern) in the first half of the 20th century. The new Lausanne source allows, for example, to study the effects of the Spanish flu on neonatal anthropometrics. We follow a two-dimensional approach: i) On the one hand, we aim for greater depth precision in order to achieve unprecedented levels of accuracy for Lausanne; ii) On the other hand, we aim to realize one of the first comparative analyses of neonatal anthropometrics based on individual data from different maternity hospitals in order to assess generalizability. We transcribe information on ca. N=15’000 births given in Lausanne, 1905-1925. In terms of neonatal health, we will not only analyse birthweights but also Ponderal Index, placenta weights, head circumference, neonatal weight loss, etc. The project is organized in four interlocked subprojects (SP): In SP1 we will focus on temporal and other determinants of neonatal health (e.g., the Spanish flu, socioeconomic position, maternal height, etc.) using innovative methods (general additive models (GAM)); in SP2 we will perform the first spatial-temporal modelling of historical birth weights based on residential addresses to identify cold and hot spots; in SP3 we will develop a statistical method to identify and adjust for a potential sample selection bias (and thus contribute to a current and highly noticed discourse in the field); and in SP4 we will realize the first comparative analysis by meta-analyzing individual data from Lausanne, Basel and Bern.In the process of further assessing determinants influencing fluctuations of neonatal health, our historical perspective may prove valuable, as it allows a retrospective examination of adverse perinatal environments on parameters of health.
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