An overview of some of our exciting research projects

The ROLO Study

The ROLO Kids and ROLO PreTeen studies are longitudinal follow-up studies of the original ROLO randomised control trial which assessed the impact of a low glycaemic index diet on birth weight, maternal glucose intolerance and gestational weight gain.

This study started with 800 pregnant women taking part from early pregnancy.  Mothers and children from the ROLO study are followed up at 6 months, 2 years, 5 years, and 10 years of age in order to determine whether maternal nutrition and low GI diet in pregnancy impacts on maternal and child health in the long term. 


As a natural progression from the ROLO study, Pregnancy Exercise and Nutrition Study with Smartphone Application Support : A Ransomised Controlled Trial (PEARS) was designed to assess the impact of a lifestyle intervention package, which consisted of a low glycaemic index (GI) diet and exercise prescription with smart phone app support, , on the incidence of gestational diabetes in an overweight and obese pregnant population. Women with a BMI of greater than 25 kg/m2 have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes and a low glycaemic index diet in pregnancy has shown to lower glucose intolerance. This randomised controlled trial recruited 500 women.  The addition of a specifically designed research smart phone app is novel and holds considerable potential to alter maternal behaviour in a positive way. An economic assessment of this intervention will allow assessment of its role within routine antenatal care.

ProP Study

The Probiotics in Pregnancy (ProP) study was a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised trial that investigating the effects of a probiotic capsule intervention on maternal fasting glucose and other indices of maternal metabolism. The probiotics are well tolerated and amongst the obese pregnancies no impact was noted on maternal metabolic profiles. The impact of probiotics on women with a new diagnosis of gestational diabetes shows effect on maternal lipids.

TEST Study

The Trial of low dose aspirin with an Early Screening Test for preeclampsia and growth restriction (TEST) study is a large (n=500) multicentre, randomised controilled feasibility trial of aspirin in low risk pregnancy.  This was the first drug trial in pregnancy in Ireland and it was very well received among low risk unselected women. 

Microbe Mom

Microbe Mom is a new therapeutic research collaboration investigating:

  • the most likely methods of transfer of good bacteria from mother to baby.
  • the impact of the mother’s diet and health on her gut bacteria and what she transfers to her baby at birth.
  • the impact of specific probiotic supplements on mother and baby health.

Microbe Mom is a 4-way collaboration between:

  • Alimentary Health Ltd, an innovative Irish healthcare company pioneering the discovery and development of proprietary microbiome-based products.
  • The SFI Research Centre APC Microbiome Ireland in Teagasc and University College Cork.
  • The UCD Perinatal Research Centre, School of Medicine, University College Dublin.
  • National Institute of Biotechnology Research and Training (NIBRT).

Additional information can also be found on


Related Links

GetGutsy Study

The GetGutsy study is testing the effect of taking a probiotic on markers of metabolic health. Recruitment is currently ongoing.


Pregnancy Nutrition Core Outcome Set (PRENCOS)

Pregnancy Nutrition Core Outcome Set (PRENCOS)



Preterm Birth

Preterm Birth continues to be an issue of global importance and has a major impact on both maternal and child health. Being born preterm can have a significant adverse affect on the health of an infant and this adversity ripples into childhood and adult life.

The Perinatal Research Centre at UCD has a dedicated research stream targeting issues relating to Preterm Birth. Our aim to investigate the causes of and treatment for Preterm Birth in order to improve outcomes for babies, their mothers and their families.

Our Preterm Birth Clinic is uniquely situated to deliver high calibre research in this area. We are fortunate to be staffed with a Sub Specialist Obstetrician, a dedicated Midwife, clinical and research fellows and have built links with our surgical and neonatal colleagues.

Our current focus is on the role of the vaginal microbiome in spontaneous Preterm Birth. This group have identified bacterial species whose deficiency is associated with Preterm Birth. We are currently enrolling for our randomised controlled trial of a bespoke Probiotic in women at risk of Preterm Birth.

Other Research Studies

Vitamin D & Maternal Lipids in Pregnancy & Impact on Maternal & Fetal Health

A number of studies have been performed examining the interaction of vitamin D on maternal and fetal health.


Follow-Up of a Prospective Cohort of Small for Gestational Infants at 2 and 5 Years Identified in Utero

This is an on-going multicentre study following up, at 2 and 5 years, children whose mothers were recruited, in pregnancy, with fetal growth on the 10th centile, in collaboration with Perinatal Ireland.

Hollestic Nutrition Smart Phone App

We are delighted that a smart phone app developed by the centre in collaboration with Dr Eileen O’Brien and Ms Sinead Curran at Dept of Dietetics at NMH was launched in 2021 for all pregnant women at NMH, nationally and internationally under name Hollestic, available on app store and free to download. It is based on the PEARS randomised controlled trial that found that an m-health lifestyle supported intervention resulted in less gestational weight gain, better sugar levels in mothers and less large for gestational infants. To date it has > 100,000 downloads, with the majority from outside Ireland. This is an excellent example of translation of research into a clinically useful tool for women attending National Maternity Hospital and globally

Latch-On: A Multicentre RCT across 5 Hospitals in Ireland East

This is an ambitious multicentre randomised controlled trial to support breastfeeding amongst women with BMI > 25 which includes intensive antenatal and postnatal support.

Collaborators include: Prof Mary Brosnan, National Maternity Hospital, Dr Denise O’Brien, UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, and Dr Barbra Coughlan, UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems.

Iron Woman 
IronWoman is a randomised controlled trial comparing alternate day to daily ferrous fumarate (Galfer) in the treatment of confirmed iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) between 12- 34 weeks’ gestation over a 4-week treatment period. This study is being sponsored and overseen by the Clinical Research Centre at University College Dublin.
Iron deficiency anaemia in pregnancy is a worldwide issue linked to poor health outcomes in the mother, fetus and infant. In low- and middle-income countries, the rates of IDA in pregnancy approach 50%. Incidence rates from over 15 European countries vary between 21-35%. Despite treatment being affordable and accessible in the form of ferrous iron salts, compliance with oral iron supplementation can be limited due to unpleasant gastrointestinal side-effects. There appears to be a dose dependent relationship to these side-effects. We hypothesise that alternate day dosing will be as effective as daily iron in correcting iron deficiency anaemia with a more favourable side-effect profile.
This study is clinically and scientifically required to advance the knowledge of healthcare professionals in treating this common problem and to improve the quality of life of women taking iron supplements in pregnancy.