Protocol for establishing a child and adolescent twin register for mental health research, and capacity building in Sri Lanka and other low and middle-income countries in South Asia

Kaushayla Jayaweera, Jeffrey Craig, Helena Zavos, Nihal Abeysinghe, De Alwis Sunil, Alina Andras, Lasith Dissanayake, Krysia Dziedzic, Buddhika Fernando, Asiri Hewamalage, Jonathan C S Ives, Kelvin Jordan, Godwin Kodituwakku, Christian Mallen, Omar Rahman, S Zafar, A Saxena, Fruhling Rijsdijk, Richard Saffrey, Emily SimonoffAthula Sumathipala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Worldwide, 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental health conditions. However, most such disorders remain undiagnosed until adolescence or adulthood. Little is known about the factors that influence mental health in children and adolescents, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMIC), where environmental threats, such as poverty and war, may affect optimal neurodevelopment. Cohort studies provide important information on risks and resilience across the life course by enabling tracking of the effects of early life environment on health during childhood and beyond. Large birth cohort studies, including twin cohorts which can be aetiologically informative, have been conducted within high income countries, but are not generalizable to LMIC. There are limited longitudinal birth cohort studies in LMIC.

Methods: We sought to enhance the volume of impactful research in Sri Lanka by establishing a Centre of Excellence for cohort studies. The aim is to establish a register of infant, child and adolescent twins, including mothers pregnant with twins, starting in the districts of Colombo (Western Province) and Vavuniya (Northern Province). We will gain consent from twins or parents for future research projects. This register will provide the platform to investigate the aetiology of mental illness and the impact of challenges to early brain development on future mental health. Using this register we will be able to conduct research which will (1) expand existing research capacity on child and adolescent mental health and twin methods; (2) further consolidate existing partnerships; (3) and establish new collaborations. The initiative is underpinned by three pillars: high quality research, ethics, and patient and public involvement and engagement. Ethics and dissemination Ethics approval for this study was obtained from the Ethics Review Committee of Sri Lanka Medical Association and Keele University’s Ethical Review Panel. In addition to journal publications a range of PPIE activities have been conducted
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Open
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 Sep 2019

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