By Alex ScottAccording to a leading Perth paediatrician there are an increasing number of children affected by noncommunicable diseases. The ORIGINS Project is a study run out of Joondalup Hospital in conjunction with The Telethon Kids Institute which aims to stop this. Dr Desiree Silva, the head of paediatrics at Joondalup Health Campus, and co-director of the project hopes it’ll curb the increasing cases of conditions like asthma, obesity and mental health problems. “The study is looking at why there’s an increase in these conditions. “We understand that a lot of it is pre-programed early in utero, so impact of pregnancy and early life may actually be impacting on these conditions these children are development at an early age,” said Silva. The study is collecting data from 10,000 children who are born at Joondalup to create a databank and biobank to try to understand why the diseases are increasing. Another reason the study was launched was due to the results from the Australian Index of Child Vulnerability, which comes from the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC). “Every child who enters pre-school, every three years is tested for vulnerabilities in certain areas, like emotional vulnerability, or vulnerability in some of their development,” Silva said “What was found in pockets of the Wanneroo area – which is where this study is being conducted – they were quite vulnerable children before they started school and we felt we needed to change this and actually try and do this right from pregnancy and early childhood.” Jacalyn Veza, a participant in the ORIGINS project was drawn to the study because of the help it could give future generations. “While pregnant there’s blood samples and other bodily fluid samples as well as a questionnaire that gets completed at different time points, after birth there are also more questionnaires and samples taken,” Veza said. She said the study creates an opportunity for participants to help future generations as well as their own children. “There are some benefits to being in the study, such as extra health and growth checks for the baby. “But also knowing this information and research might be able help treat or even cure allergies and other health issues like depression is really important,” said Veza.