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The Head of Section Professor Alan Stein leads a group studying the development of young children in the face of adversity, with studies both in the UK and in low- and middle-income countries (LAMICs), especially sub-Saharan Africa.

Young children in the face of adversity

Our current work in the UK centres around two randomised treatment trials. The first funded by the Wellcome Trust involves mothers with severe postnatal depression and their babies, and the second funded by the Barclay Foundation aims to help families with a child born with a craniofacial abnormality. We work closely with Morten Kringelbach on experimental investigations including neuroimaging to understand the neural basis of early parenting and child development. We have a number of other studies aiming to understand the impact of the mental health problems in fathers, including a collaborative project with Kings College London on the mental health of children whose fathers suffer from PTSD in the military.

Our work in LAMICs focuses on Southern Africa. This includes intervention studies mainly in relation to children born to mothers with HIV and/or poverty, principally in collaboration with the Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa. We have recently helped develop an intervention package to support the caregivers of young children with HIV in their homes.

We have been working on a number of studies in collaboration with the Agincourt Demographics Surveillance Site (on the South African/Mozambique border) including work on the mental health of adolescents and in understanding risk factors for maternal and child mortality. With the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies we have examined the mental health of pregnant women and young mothers with HIV. We are investigating the cognitive development of children born to mothers with HIV who have been exclusively breastfed and are evaluating an intervention we developed to support parents in disclosing their HIV status to their children.

We are involved in a number of large collaborations involving birth cohorts. We work closely with the Birth to 20 cohort based in Soweto, South Africa, where children have been followed up for over 20 years. We are also partners of two large multi-site collaborations; the COHORTS group which contains birth cohorts from Brazil, Guatemala, India, Philippines and South Africa. We work closely with the Department of Obstetrics in Oxford on the neurodevelopmental outcomes of the INTERGROWTH and INTERBIO cohorts which have been tracking children’s growth in utero in several countries.

Further information

Professor Alan Stein


PA to Professor Alan Stein:
Group Research Coordinator: Valerie West