The Cambridge Baby Growth Study (CBGS) is a prospective, observational pregnancy and birth cohort with detailed assessments and sample collections in infancy and continuing childhood follow-up. Women were recruited during early pregnancy from April 2001 to March 2009; they attended several study visits throughout pregnancy, and then repeatedly with their infants until the age of 2 years. The main aim of the study has been to investigate the antenatal and postnatal determinants of infancy growth and reproductive development, including environmental, genetic, hormonal and nutritional exposures. Collection of extensive anthropometric, nutritional, demographic and biological data has allowed detailed examination of the first 1000 days of life, a time of emerging importance for the early origins of health and disease, where in utero exposures, early growth, nutrition and genetic interactions are thought to contribute to later-life disease risk1,2,3.

The innovative analysis is to determine how babies absorb nutrients (blood spot analysis). It allows us to link nutrients in Human milk, nutrients in the baby’s blood , baby’s weight, height and body composition.

All women were recruited from a single study site: the Rosie Maternity Hospital, Cambridge, UK, and the Cambridge local research ethics committee approved the study. 5,000 mother/ infant pairs joined the research.

Findings from CBGS to date have mainly focused on the antenatal and early postnatal determinants of infancy body size, male genital development and exposures influencing maternal metabolism. We have shown that Dried Blood Spot Samples (DBS) are a useful biological medium and many serum assays can be adapted, allowing measurement of early life circulating hormones, metabolites and lipids. Our findings have therefore expanded current knowledge around infancy growth and physiology, related to both prenatal and early postnatal exposures, in particular those of nutrition. Work with DBS assays has begun to fill a gap in the literature with respect to infancy hormones and metabolites, from studies on cord blood to those in childhood. Additionally, further knowledge of maternal and infancy metabolism may allow biomarkers for fetal and infancy growth.

The cutting edge benefit is the insights into the components of human milk that help babies absorb nutrients and achieve ideal weight.


1 Barker DJ. The developmental origins of adult disease. J Am Coll Nutr 2004;23:588S–95S.
2 Gluckman PD, Hanson MA, Cooper C, Thornburg KL. Effect of in utero and early-life conditions on adult health and disease. N Engl J Med 2008;359:61–73.
3 Ong KK, Loos RJ. Rapid infancy weight gain and subsequent obesity: systematic reviews and hopeful suggestions. Acta Paediatrica 2006;95:904–08.