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Assessing causality in perinatal and developmental epidemiology

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BRADFORD HILL SEMINAR: Debbie Lawlor is interested in how biological, social and environmental exposures from across life affect the risk of chronic diseases and how appropriate prevention of these diseases can be achieved

Whilst randomised controlled trials in pregnant women and children are not impossible there are added restrictions and difficulties in experiments in these groups. As a result policy and clinical practice is often driven by observational evidence. For example, recent international policy regarding diagnosing gestational diabetes and monitoring weight gain in pregnancy are based on traditional multivariable analyses in observational studies. In this talk I will talk about how causal understanding that this stage in the life course might be improved by triangulating findings from several approaches each of which has differing key sources of bias. The approaches that will be looked at are cross cohort comparisons, negative control studies, matched study designs and Mendelian randomization (the use of genetic variants as instrumental variables).

This talk is part of the Bradford Hill seminars at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health series.

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