Epigenetic effects of medications during pregnancy and the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood: Improving causal inference (UiORealArt)
The background for this project is a lack of knowledge about whether the use of medicines in pregnancy can affect the child's long-term development via epigenetic mechanisms.
The project is divided into two parts that are carried out in parallel. In one part of the project, we will investigate whether there are differences in epigenetic patterns (DNA methylation) in blood samples from the umbilical cord and use genetic markers in samples from The Norwegian Mother, Father and children's survey (MoBa). MoBa is one of the world's largest studies on pregnant women and children and includes births in Norway between 1999 and 2008. In MoBa, data have been collected on 114 500 children, 95 000 mothers and 75 000 fathers, in addition to genetic data from 98 000 participants (MoBa Genetics). This data will be linked to information about the pregnancy (Medical Birth Register) and information about the child's development reported by parents and school results in the Norwegian Educational Base with Statistics Norway. We will: 1) investigate whether there is an association between exposure to psychotropics and analgesic medications during pregnancy and the child's later language development, school performance and mental disorders, and 2) further investigate whether there are differences in DNA methylation in children exposed and not exposed (controls) to these medicines. In the second part we will use simulated artificial datasets and machine learning algorithms to improve inference about the associations found in part 1.