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Research project

Growing up: the influence of lifestyle on joint health

Status: Ongoing (June 2017 - 2020)

A population based study examining associations between lifestyle factors and the presence of structural abnormalities in the pediatric lumbar spine.

What we do

About our project

Back pain is a common problem and already present in children and adolescents, but the etiology of these complaints is often unknown. Structural spinal abnormalities and shape variations might play a role and have been shown in children on MRI, but research in general populations is scarce.

We hypothesize that the presence of structural abnormalities in the spine is associated with higher weight status of pre-pubertal children. Furthermore we expect structural abnormalities to be associated with a U-shaped physical activity pattern in these children.

For this project data from the Generation R Study will be used, a population-based prospective cohort study from fetal life onwards. The Generation R Study includes a total of 9749 children and their mothers. Our study population consists of all 4240 children who participated in the 10-year-old measurements, including a MRI of the spine, and their mothers. For each child the MRI of the spine will be examined and scored for structural abnormalities. Information about weight status and physical activity is available from questionnaires and physical examination of both mother and child.

Our research focus

Primary outcome
The primary outcome is the prevalence of several structural spinal abnormalities and shape variations in children aged 10 years.

Secondary outcomes
Secondary outcomes are the associations of these spinal abnormalities and the spinal shape with the children’s weight status (e.g. BMI-z, fat mass), and physical activity (measured by actigraphy and questionnaires).

Funds & Grants

EUR Fellowship 2017


Generation R Study Group
Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Our team

Dr. M. van Middelkoop (co-promotor), m.vanmiddelkoop@erasmusmc.nl
Dr. E.H.G. Oei (co-promotor), e.oei@erasmusmc.nl
M.M. van den Heuvel, MSc, m.m.vandenheuvel@erasmusmc.nl
Drs. J.J.M. Renkens, j.renkens@erasmusmc.nl
Prof. S.M.A. Bierma-Zeinstra (promotor), s.bierma-zeinstra@erasmusmc.nl

Contact address for the project: m.m.vandenheuvel@erasmusmc.nl.