By Andee Agius
The main role of this working group is to review current longitudinal birth cohort studies with a special focus on epigenetic changes occurring during physiological birth. As definitions of physiological birth are not consistent, we propose the following definition: at term (37 completed weeks), singleton, cephalic, spontaneous onset of labour, no risk-pregnancy aiming at normal birth (no augmentation, no epidural, no episiotomy, spontaneous birth).
A successful training school “Beyond Birth Cohorts: from study design to data management” was organized by Working Group 1 in November 2016 in Valencia, Spain. The participants had the opportunity to learn more about facilitating implementation of research capacity and exchange knowledge in longitudinal cohort studies in maternity care.
During the March COST action meeting held in Heraklion, Crete, in agreement with the MoU, a consensus was reached on the following:
- Finalising the review of the existing birth cohorts and listing study protocols that aim to work on birth cohorts
- Performing a review on the expression of oxytocin receptors sites and other epigenetic gene receptors in the mother and the infant during childbirth
- Setting up a protocol to study the nature of physiological birth and the impact on the long-term.
This work will contribute to the scientific body of evidence to bring more awareness on the short and long term benefits of physiological childbirth.