12:29am Thursday 17 October 2019

The turn of children and grandchildren to contribute to understanding of major diseases


The Malmö Offspring Study is the first population study in Sweden to make it possible to monitor major diseases over several generations. The focus is on type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia and cancer. The aim is to provide researchers with access to new information on how diseases spread within families, not only through hereditary factors but also via lifestyle, social patterns and health habits. The study is run by Lund University and Region Skåne with support from the EU.

“Despite medical progress, all the evidence suggests that these serious widespread diseases will remain one of our greatest challenges in the future. With the help of the participants in the Malmö Offspring Study, we hope to gain new, important knowledge of how genetics and environment affect us”, says Peter Nilsson, who is in charge of the study together with Olle Melander, both of whom are professors at the Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University.

The multi-generational perspective is achieved by inviting the children and grandchildren of people who took part in a previous population study, Malmö Diet and Cancer, to take part. The first stage is now underway – a pilot study with the aim of studying a total of 500 children or grandchildren.

The researchers hope to obtain a larger amount of relevant data than in previous population studies. This will be achieved through the use of new methods for function analysis of the blood vessels, lungs, brain and metabolism. Of particular interest is the connection between what we eat on a daily basis and the bacterial flora of the intestines, and the impact this has on health. Medical examinations and tests will be carried out at Skåne University Hospital in Malmö from early March.

The plan is for the pilot study to be completed during 2013. Following an evaluation, the goal is to start a full-scale study with children and grandchildren of a total of 6 000 participants in Malmö Diet and Cancer. In total, the majority of around 15 000 children and grandchildren will be invited to take part.

Malmö has a long tradition of large-scale population studies. The largest are Malmö Preventive Medicine and Malmö Diet and Cancer, which have involved a total of over 50 000 unique participants. These studies have formed a basis for further studies and research projects both in Sweden and abroad. These have resulted in a better understanding of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, alcohol abuse and the importance of diet.

More information

  • Peter Nilsson, Professor of Clinical Cardiovascular Research at the Department of Clinical Sciences in Malmö, Lund University, and consultant at Skåne University Hospital in Malmö, +46 40 33 24 15, +46 704 50 34 56, Peter.Nilsson@med.lu.se
  • Margaretha Persson, research nurse and head of the clinical research unit at Skåne University Hospital in Malmö, +46 40 332037, +46 768 87 04 66 Margaretha.M.Persson@skane.se

About the Malmö Offspring Study
The Malmö Offspring Study involves children and grandchildren of those who took part in the Malmö Diet and Cancer study. The children are today aged 50–55 and the grandchildren are around 20–30.

The participants are monitored clinically through medical examinations and in patient registers over an extended period, based on informed consent and in accordance with ethical approval and the Personal Data Act.

The medical tests carried out on participants will include the following:

  • physical examination with measurement of height, weight, blood pressure
  • blood test including DNA sample for genetic analyses relating to major diseases
  • oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) to determine how the body’s blood sugar control functions
  • technical examinations (external): ultrasound of carotid arteries, measurement of blood flow in fingers and feet, 24-hour blood pressure measurement, measurement of arterial stiffness, measurement of lung capacity (spirometry)
  • test of memory and reactions (cognition)
  • questionnaire on lifestyle, education, stress, etc.
  • online food diary over four days (login from home)
  • urine sample and stool sample (to estimate the composition of the bacterial flora in the intestines)

The study receives financial support from various funding bodies including the EU and the Swedish strategic research area Epidemiology for Health, which is coordinated from Lund University.

Researchers in charge

  • Lund University: Prof. Peter Nilsson, Prof. Olle Melander, Prof. Jan Nilsson and Prof. Gunnar Engström.
  • Skåne University Hospital: Dr Margaretha Persson, research nurse

Additional background information can be found at: http://www.med.lu.se/epidemiology_for_health_epihealth/mos

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