This study seeks to produce timely, new information on the complex relationship between low to moderate alcohol drinking patterns in pregnant women and their infant’s health and development. Exposure data was collected through questionnaires administered during each trimester of pregnancy. Data on other factors that could influence the effects of alcohol such as diet, medication and body size was also collected at each follow-up. Mothers then completed a questionnaire about the health and development of their child at one and two years of age.

A subgroup of the cohort was invited for 3D craniofacial photography of their child within four weeks of their first birthday. The same sub-group was also invited to a developmental assessment at two years of age. Biosample collection occurred at two time points: At recruitment all participating women were offered a cheek brush swab for collection of their buccal cells for the measurement of genetic polymorphisms. Around the time of birth, infant buccal swabs, placental tissue and cord blood were also obtained for epigenetic studies.

AQUA at 6: this follow-up of the 6-7 year-old children is underway in 2018-2020, including neurodevelopmental assessment, child buccal swabs (epigenetics), parent-report questionnaire, 3D craniofacial imaging and a brain MRI sub-study.




Study Summary
Study name Asking QUestions about Alcohol in pregnancy
Study abbreviation AQUA
Current principal investigator/s Prof Jane Halliday NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, Public Health Genetics, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), Melbourne
Dr Colleen O’Leary NHMRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth
Prof Della Forster Research Fellow, Mother and Child Health Research, La Trobe University, Melbourne
A/Prof Susan Donath Research Fellow, Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics Unit, MCRI
A/Prof Peter Anderson NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, Vic. Infant Brain Studies (VIBeS), MCRI, Melbourne
Dr Sharon Lewis Senior Research Officer, Public Health Genetics, MCRI, Melbourne
Prof Elizabeth Elliott Consultant Paediatrician, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney
Dr Cate Nagle Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health, Medicine, Nursing & Behaviour, Deakin Univ., Geelong
Dr Jeffrey Craig Group Leader, Developmental Epigenetics, MCRI, Melbourne
Evelyne Muggli Senior Research Officer, Public Health Genetics, MCRI, Melbourne
Current project manager Evelyne Muggli
Primary Institution Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Collaborating Institution/s National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth
La Trobe University, Melbourne
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney
Deakin University, Geelong
Project Partner Maternity Hospitals Mercy Hospital for Women
Royal Women’s Hospital
Monash Medical Centre
Casey Hospital
Dandenong Hospital
Box Hill Hospital
Major funding sources NHMRC
VicHealth
McCusker Charitable Foundation
Brockhoff Foundation
Financial Markets for Children
Study website https://www.mcri.edu.au/research/projects/asking-questions-about-alcohol-pregnancy-aqua/
Key reference for study (published study protocol) Muggli, E., O’Leary, C., Forster, D., Anderson, P., Lewis, S., Nagle, C., Craig, J.M., Donath, S., Elliott, E. and Halliday, J. (2014). Study protocol: Asking QUestions about Alcohol in pregnancy (AQUA): a longitudinal cohort study of fetal effects of low to moderate alcohol exposure. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 14: 302. doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-14-302
Are data available to others outside study team? Not at present
Study focus (e.g. social development) Alcohol consumption during pregnancy and health and development of index child at birth and 12-24 months of age.
Sampling frame Women attending one of seven antenatal clinics in 2011-12 who are < 19 weeks pregnant with single baby.
Study type (e.g. randomised control trial, cohort, case-control) Cohort
Year commenced 2011
Ongoing recruitment? No
Commencement sample (N) 2146
Intergenerational (e.g. offspring)? No
Imaging (e.g. fMRI, ultrasound, retinal photograph)? 3D photo of face at 12 months
Linkage (e.g. BioGrid, VPDC, NAPLAN, Medicare)? Electronic hospital medical records (through maternal UR numbers)
Biosamples (e.g. buccal, blood, hair)? Optional maternal and infant cheek swab, blood, placenta
Ethics approvals or requirements (e.g. specific, extended, unspecified, other)? This project only (Specific consent)
Wave Year Age (mean, range) Eligible sample (not deceased, not withdrawn)
1 2011-2012 < 19 weeks gestation 2146
2 2011-2012 26 weeks gestation 1715
3 2011-2012 36 weeks gestation 1571
4 2013-2014 12 months old (includes birth) 1566 eligible (not withdrawn), 1296 completed survey
518 completed 3D anthropometric mask sub-study
5 2014-2015 2 years 1519 eligible (not withdrawn), 1038 completed survey
564 completed developmental assessment sub-study
Study Summary
Study name AQUA at 6
Study abbreviation AQUA
Current principal investigator/s Prof Peter Anderson, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) & Monash University, Melbourne
Prof Jane Halliday, MCRI
Prof Elizabeth Elliott, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney
Prof Tony Penington, MCRI & The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH)
A/Prof Deanne Thompson, MCRI
Evi Muggli, MCRI
A/Prof Alicia Spittle, MCRI
Prof Della Forster, Royal Women’s’ Hospital & La Trobe University, Melbourne
Dr Sharon Lewis, MCRI
Stephen Hearps, MCRI
Prof Sharon Goldfeld (Associate), MCRI & RCH
Dr Peter Claes (Associate), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
A/Prof Jeff Craig (Associate), Deakin University & MCRI, Melbourne
Current project manager Evelyne Muggli
Primary Institution Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Collaborating Institution/s The Royal Children’s Hospital
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney
Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne
La Trobe University, Melbourne
Deakin University, Melbourne
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
Major funding sources NHMRC
Study website https://www.mcri.edu.au/aquastudy/aqua-6
Key reference for study (published study protocol) Muggli, E., O’Leary, C., Forster, D., Anderson, P., Lewis, S., Nagle, C., Craig, J.M., Donath, S., Elliott, E. and Halliday, J. (2014). Study protocol: Asking QUestions about Alcohol in pregnancy (AQUA): a longitudinal cohort study of fetal effects of low to moderate alcohol exposure. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 14: 302. doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-14-302
Are data available to others outside study team? No formal mechanism for this has been set up as yet, but we have contributed data/results from the original AQUA study to a meta-analysis on the effects of smoking on placental global methylation and also to researchers at the RWH for a paper on the diet of pregnant women.
Study focus (e.g. social development) Neurodevelopment after prenatal alcohol exposure
Sampling frame Original AQUA study mothers
Study type (e.g. randomised control trial, cohort, case-control) Longitudinal cohort study
Year commenced 2018
Ongoing recruitment? Yes
Current sample (N) ~400 families, as of August 2019
Annual recruitment rate 300
Intergenerational (e.g. offspring)? Yes
Imaging (e.g. fMRI, ultrasound, retinal photograph)? Yes, craniofacial 3D imaging and brain MRI
Clinical assessments (e.g. oral food challenge, lung function tests, diagnostic assessments) Children have a full neuropsychological assessment. For administered tests, please see the study protocol.
Linkage (e.g. BioGrid, VPDC, NAPLAN, Medicare)? AEDC (Planned)
Biosamples (e.g. buccal, blood, hair)? Buccal
Ethics approvals or requirements (e.g. specific, extended, unspecified, other)? This project only (specific consent)
Future research related to this project (extended consent)

Principal Investigators

Prof Peter Anderson

Prof Jane Halliday

Project Manager

Evelyne Muggli

Email: evi.muggli@mcri.edu.au

Study Contact

Ph: +61 3 8341 6260
Email: aquastudy@mcri.edu.au

Postal Address

AQUA study

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
PO Box 907
Parkville VIC 3052