Rationale and design of South Asian Birth Cohort (START): a Canada-India collaborative study

BMC Public Health. 2013 Jan 28;13:79. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-79.


Background: People who originate from the Indian subcontinent (South Asians) suffer among the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the world. Prior evidence suggests that metabolic risk factors develop early in life and are influenced by maternal and paternal behaviors, the intrauterine environment, and genetic factors. The South Asian Birth Cohort Study (START) will investigate the environmental and genetic basis of adiposity among 750 South Asian offspring recruited from highly divergent environments, namely, rural and urban India and urban Canada.

Methods: Detailed information on health behaviors including diet and physical activity, and blood samples for metabolic parameters and DNA are collected from pregnant women of South Asian ancestry who are free of significant chronic disease. They also undergo a provocative test to diagnose impaired glucose tolerance and gestational diabetes. At delivery, cord blood and newborn anthropometric indices (i.e. birth weight, length, head circumference and skin fold thickness) are collected. The mother and growing offspring are followed prospectively and information on the growth trajectory, adiposity and health behaviors will be collected annually up to age 3 years. Our aim is to recruit a minimum of 750 mother-infant pairs equally divided between three divergent environments: rural India, urban India, and Canada.

Summary: The START cohort will increase our understanding of the environmental and genetic determinants of adiposity and related metabolic abnormalities among South Asians living in India and Canada.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / ethnology*
  • Adiposity / genetics
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asians* / genetics
  • Asians* / psychology
  • Asians* / statistics & numerical data
  • Canada
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gene-Environment Interaction*
  • Health Behavior / ethnology
  • Humans
  • India / ethnology
  • Infant
  • International Cooperation
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Health / ethnology*
  • Rural Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Urban Health / ethnology*
  • Urban Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult