Search for links between mothers’ health and well-being before and during pregnancy, and long-term outcomes for mother and child

17 June 2015, Singapore: KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), Singapore Institute for Clinical Science (SICS) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the National University Health System (NUHS) have launched Singapore’s first large-scale pre-conception study which will involve 1,000 local couples. The study will investigate the effects that nutrition, lifestyle, mental health, and other environmental factors may have before and during pregnancy on the eventual health and socio-emotional outcomes of the mother and baby. The study, called “S-PRESTO”, is short for Singapore PREconception Study of long-Term maternal and child Outcomes.

S-PRESTO will recruit couples who are actively planning pregnancy. Information will be gathered from these couples from the time they plan to conceive through successful conception and up until their child is two years old. The aim is to define the critical development pathways and mechanisms that link maternal and perinatal health and nutrition to child development, with the longer term goal of developing more effective approaches to intervention and prevention of metabolic diseases and neurodevelopmental disorders.

"S-PRESTO follows on from the highly successful birth cohort study, GUSTO (Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes). GUSTO showed us that the mother’s health during pregnancy affects the child’s health outcomes, such as higher glucose levels in the expectant mother, even in the absence of diabetes, can affect an infant’s body fat composition1, and that full term babies born to mothers with anxiety and depressive symptoms during pregnancy, end up smaller in birth size2. GUSTO inevitably led us to question the influences of the couple’s health on the child even before the mother is pregnant, as positively suggested by some international studies. S-PRESTO was thus launched as a local study which will focus on the preconception stage, through to when the child is two years old. The main aim is to use the data to help enhance health outcomes for every birth in Singapore”, said Associate Professor Jerry Chan, KKH Principal Investigator, S-PRESTO, and Director, KK Research Centre, KKH.

“Collaborating with the leading local maternity hospital on S-PRESTO enables us to investigate the important clinical window known as the preconception stage in great detail through a large study cohort. S-PRESTO also provides a critical opportunity to validate and extend our findings from GUSTO, including associations between specific epigenetic ‘marks’ and developmental outcomes in the offspring, and paves the way for better maternity and child care in the future”, said Associate Professor Chong Yap Seng, Executive Director, Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and Senior Consultant, National University Health System (NUHS).

S-PRESTO is recruiting couples who meet the following criteria:

  • Where the wife is 18 to 35 years old*
  • Currently residing in Singapore, and intending to reside in Singapore for the next five years
  • Who are actively planning pregnancy
  • Of Chinese, Malay or Indian ethnicity
  • Intending to receive antenatal care and deliver at KKH

Under S-PRESTO, participants and their future children will receive complimentary investigations and reports until their children are two years of age. For more information on S-PRESTO, couples may visit or call 1800-SPRESTO (1800-777 3786).

This research is supported by the Singapore National Research Foundation under its Translational and Clinical Research Flagship Programme and administered by the Singapore Ministry of Health’s National Medical Research Council.

References of published GUSTO studies

  1. Broekman BF, Chan YH, Chong YS, Kwek K, Cohen SS, Haley CL, Chen H, Chee C, Rifkin-Graboi A, Gluckman PD, Meaney MJ, Saw SM; GUSTO Research Group. The influence of anxiety and depressive symptoms during pregnancy on birth size. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2014 Mar;28(2):116-26.
  2. Aris IM, Soh SE, Tint MT, Liang S, Chinnadurai A, Saw SM, Rajadurai VS, Kwek K, Meaney MJ, Godfrey KM, Gluckman PD, Yap FK, Chong YS, Lee YS. Effect of maternal glycemia on neonatal adiposity in a multiethnic Asian birth cohort. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Jan;99(1):240-7.

* Updated on 28 October 2016