Tairāwhiti Child Well-Being Study

Using cutting-edge MRI technology to understand and improve child health

The Tairāwhiti study aims to use non-invasive, advanced MRI imaging protocols in children to better understand child health and the early signs of disease in a broad long-term study.

The study will start with a proof-of-concept pilot with a small number of local children, in order to refine the protocols and support the development of the full study.

The full study will use MRI technology to track the health of over 500 Tairāwhiti children as they grow and develop into adults, enabling us to model developmental changes in normal and disease states to predict disease and target preventative strategies or early treatment. The study will include imaging of the brain, cardiovascular system, lungs, abdominal organs and musculoskeletal system, enabling researchers to explore single- or multi-system health and disease, with collaboration from leading academics in a range of fields across New Zealand.

Māori models of health will be at the center of the design and implementation of the study. The study will look at how individual, whānau and environmental factors support child health in keeping the the pillars of Pae Ora. Information collected in the domains (such as physical health markers, parental health surveys and socioeconomic data) will be used to support the MRI and give a holistic understanding of health.

The images collected by the study will also form a comprehensive database of normal structural, physiological and functional scans. Many health studies are limited by a lack of normative (control data). Tairāwhiti data will help support a wide range of research that could assist in capturing early biomarkers of diseases which dis-proportionality affect our community (e.g. cardiomyopathy, or metabolic disease).

The study will have a strong focus on improving understandings of Māori health. previously, similar studies have included predominantly European children, restricting the understanding of the health of non-European people. this will also give children and their whānau an opportunity to participate in world leading research and stimulate interest in health sciences.

The Tairāwhiti study is an opportunity to create pioneering research, that has māori health at its center. This has the potential to support transformational change in child health in Tairāwhiti and beyond, bring understandings of māori health to the forefront of health research and inform strategies to prevent ill health.  

  • The Tairāwhiti study will be a child cohort study, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to follow a group of
    children as they grow into adults.
  • Whole body imaging will be paired with supporting data to capture a holistic picture of child health.
  • The study will be designed in close collaboration with the local community, and in line with Māori models of health
    and research (Kaupapa Māori).
  • Global collaborators will use data generated from the study to improve understandings of the development of
    pathology and identify novel biomarkers of disease.
  • Data from the study will also serve as a biobank of normal human development, to support a wide range of imaging
  • The study will have a huge impact for child health, local communities and Mātai.
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