Dr Mourad Seif, a consultant obstetrician at St Mary's Hospital and expert on teenage pregnancy, and Dr Kate Ward of the School's Clinical Radiology Unit are leading the study. The Unit is a multidisciplinary centre working closely with St. Mary's and Manchester Royal Infirmary, and research into bone development and innovative new treatments is a major part of its activity.
The study has been funded by the National Osteoporosis Society, and is believed to be first into the long-term effects of early pregnancy on bone health. The findings will help inform opinion on whether calcium and other mineral supplements could be particularly beneficial to younger expectant mothers.
The female skeleton contains a greater amount of calcium than the male, believed to be necessary for the demands of pregnancy and breast-feeding. As this continues to develop until the age of about 25, the study seeks to investigate how younger mothers' calcium levels are affected during and after pregnancy.
The team is keen to discover whether continued bone development in teenagers who have been pregnant differs from those who have not, or from the calcium levels of older mothers. Potential differences between mothers who breast feed and those who are bottle-feeding will also be investigated.
Around 70 expectant or new mothers aged 13 -19 are needed for the study, with a similar number of 25 - 35 year old mothers being sought for comparative purposes. A third group, of non-pregnant 13 - 19 year olds to act as a control group, is also being recruited.
Calcium recovery rates after pregnancy will be assessed by scanning both mother and baby to measure bone density and shape, within four weeks of the birth and at intervals of three and nine months after. Volunteers will also be asked to respond to a short questionnaire upon joining the study.
The project is due to end in Spring 2006, with results to be published by the end of that year. Anyone interested in participating should contact Dr Ward on 0161 275 5118.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The University of Manchester (www.manchester.ac.uk) was formed by the merger of The Victoria University of Manchester and UMIST in October 2004, and with 36,000 students expected in the coming academic year is the largest higher education institution in the country. Its Faculty of Medical & Human Sciences (www.mhs.manchester.ac.uk) is one of the largest faculties of clinical and health sciences in Europe, with a research income of over £37 million.
The School of Medicine (www.medicine.manchester.ac.uk) is the largest of the Faculty's five Schools, with 1300 staff, almost 2000 undergraduates and a £32M research income. The School encompasses five teaching hospitals, and is closely linked to a range of general hospitals and community practices across the North West of England.
The bone health project is being undertaken in partnership with the Young Parents' Group at St Mary's Hospital, which recently won the Royal College of Midwives' Prize for its teenage pregnancy services. Its Teenage Pregnancy Liaison Midwife Marie Bartlett can be contacted on 0161-276-4245 or 07717-538744.
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