Maternal & Fetal Health Group

Centre Overview

UCD Perinatal Research led by Professor Fionnuala McAuliffe is internationally recognised for its research in perinatal health, prenatal ultrasound, diabetes and nutrition in pregnancy.

UCD Perinatal Research, based at the National Maternity Hospital, Dublin coordinates national and international collaborative research in maternal nutrition and diabetes and its impact on maternal, fetal and infant outcomes. The group comprises researchers with backgrounds ranging from clinical obstetrics, paediatrics, nutrition, exercise physiology, behaviour and marketing, public health to economics.  The research is funded by grants from the European Union, The Health Research Board Ireland (HRB), and The National Maternity Hospital Medical Fund.

More Information About UCD Maternal & Fetal Health Group

The ROLO kids study is a longitudinal follow-up study to the original ROLO randomised control trial which assessed the impact of a low glycaemic index diet on birthweight, maternal glucose intolerance and gestational weight gain. Mothers and children from the ROLO study are followed up at 6months, 2 years and 5 years of age in order to determine whether maternal nutrition/low GI diet in pregnancy has an effect on childhood weight or adiposity and to examine the relationship between in-utero environment and childhood growth and adiposity. Impact of maternal and fetal inflammation and vitamin D on infant adiposity will also be assessed.

Women with a BMI of greater than 25 kg/m2 have a higher risk of developing Gestational Diabetes. A low glycemic index diet in pregnancy has shown to lower glucose intolerance. As a natural progression from the ROLO study, the Pregnancy Exercise and Nutrition research study (PEARS) was designed to assess the impact of a low glycemic index (GI) dietary and exercise intervention with smart phone app support compared to regular lifestyle, on the incidence of gestational diabetes at 29 weeks’ gestation  in an overweight and obese pregnant population. This is a randomized controlled trial of 500 women of which recruitment is ongoing.  The addition of a specifically designed research smart phone app is novel and may alter maternal behaviour in a positive way. An economic assessment of this intervention will allow assessment of its role within routine antenatal care.

The Probiotics in Pregnancy (ProP) study is a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised trial  which is investigating the effects of a probiotic capsule intervention on maternal fasting glucose  and other indices of maternal metabolism including insulin, c-peptide, lipids and CRP. Alimentary Health Cork has supplied the probiotic UCC 118. To date the probiotics have been well tolerated and amongst the obese pregnancies no impact has been noted on maternal metabolic profiles. The impact of probiotics on women with a new diagnosis of gestational diabetes is on-going and results will be presented in San Diego in 2015 at the US Society of Maternal and Fetal Medicine.

In 2014 we commenced a pilot (n=500) multicentre RCT of aspirin in low risk pregnancy to assess its role in pre-eclampsia and fetal growth restriction prevention. This is the first drug trial in pregnancy in Ireland and it has been very well received as recruitment has now successfully completed. 

Research Team

  • Prof Fionnuala McAuliffe, Consultant & Head of Women & Children's Health
  • Dr. Karen Lindsay, Postdoctural Fellow
  • Dr. Goiuri Alberdi, Postdoctural Fellow
  • Dr. Elizabeth O’Sullivan, Postdoctural Fellow
  • Helena Scully, Research Assistant
  • Maeve Smith, Research Assistant
  • Dr Jean Donnelly, PhD student
  • Dr Maria Kennelly, PhD student
  • Dr. Fionnuala Mone, PhD student
  • Dr. Rebecca Moore, MD student
  • Aisling Geraghty, PhD student
  • Eileen O’Brien, PhD student
  • Kate Ainscough, PhD student
  • Dr. Victor Mukonka PhD student
  • Terri Levine, PhD student

Associated Researchers

  • Dr Eileen Gibney, UCD Institute of Food and Health
  • Dr Lorraine Brennan, UCD Institute of Food and Health
  • Prof Cecily Kelleher, Public Health, UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy & Population Science
  • Dr Mary Higgins, Consultant Obstetrician, National Maternity Hospital & University College Dublin
  • Dr Patricia Fitzpatrick, Public Health, UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy & Population Science
  • Prof Giuseppe DeVito, Prof of Physiotherapy, UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy & Population Science
  • Dr. Peter Doran, Director, UCD Clinical Research Centre
  • Dr. Mensud Hatsunic, Consultant Endocrinologist, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital
  • Dr. Malachi McKenna, Consultant Endocrinologist, St Vincent’s University Hospital
  • Prof Donal O’Shea, Consultant Endocrinologist, St Vincent’s University Hospital
  • Dr. Sinead Murphy, Consultant Paediatrician, Children’s University Hospital Temple St
  • Prof Brian Caulfield, Prof of Physiotherapy and Director of Insight
  • Dr. Colm O’Donnell, Consultant Neonatologist, National Maternity Hospital
  • Dr. Fionnuala Ni Ainle, Consultant Haematologist, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital

Collaborators

  • Dr. Orla Doyle, UCD Geary Institute,
  • Dr. Mary McCarthy, Department of Food Business and Development, University College Cork
  • Prof Charles Normand, Health Policy and Management, Trinity College Dublin
  • Prof Fergus Shanahan,  Director of Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, Department of Medicine, University College Cork
  • Prof. Eleanor Molloy, Paediatrics, Trinity College Dublin
  • Prof Berthold Koletzko, University of Munich.
  • Prof Lucilla Poston, Imperial College London.
  • Dr. Jodie Dodd, University of Adelaide.
  • Prof Fiona Alderdice, School of Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast.
  • Prof Fergal Malone, Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland
  • Prof Jane Norman, Prof of Maternal and Fetal Health. Director of the Tommy's Centre for Maternal and Fetal Health. University of Edinburgh
  • Prof Jane Norman, Prof of Maternal and Fetal Health. Director of the Tommy's Centre for Maternal and Fetal Health. University of Edinburgh
  • Prof Ruth Grunau, British Columbia, Canada

 

Director Biography

Current Positions

  • Head, Womens and Childrens Health, UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science Head, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science
  • Chair and Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University College Dublin
  • Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Maternal and Fetal Medicine Specialist, National Maternity Hospital, Dublin
  • Conway Fellow, UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research
  • Programme Director of Maternal & Fetal Medicine Sub-specialty training programme at National Maternity Hospital

Qualifications

  • 2009 FRCOG Fellowship of Royal College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists, UK
  • 2007 FRCPI Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
  • 2004 Maternal and Fetal Medicine Sub-specialisation, University of Toronto, Canada
  • 2001 MD by thesis, University College Dublin, Ireland
  • 1997 MRCPI Membership of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
  • 1996 MRCOG Gold medal, Royal College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists, UK
  • 1993 DCH Diploma in Child Health, National University of Ireland
  • 1991 MB BCh BAO (Honours) University College Dublin, Ireland

Professional Training

  • 2006-present Associate Prof & Consultant, UCD Obstetrics & Gynaecology, School of Medicine and Medicine Science, University College Dublin, National Maternity Hospital, Dublin
  • 2004-2006 Senior Lecturer & Consultant, UCD Obstetrics & Gynaecology, School of Medicine and Medicine Science, University College Dublin, National Maternity Hospital, Dublin
  • 2002-2004 Subspeciality Training in Maternal & Fetal Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada
  • 1999-2001 Senior Registrar in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Coombe Womens Hospital, Dublin & University College Hospital Galway, Ireland
  • 1997-1999 Research Fellow in Fetal Medicine, Kings College Hospital, London, UK