Researchers from the Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) study made new discoveries on young children’s academic performance, eating habits and neurodevelopmental disorders.
According to Professor Chong Yap Seng, Dean-designate of NUS Medicine, who is the lead researcher of the study, tests on memory, vocabulary, numeracy skills and impulse control were conducted for the participating children at the age of four, which found a strong link to the children’s early primary school academic performance. These tests aim to focus on children who are at high risk of being poorly prepared for school, so that their parents could adapt to their learning styles.
In addition, research has shown that children’s eating rate is set when they turn four years old. "We videotaped the children eating in the lab, and we found that if they ate fast, chewed less and the food spent less time in their mouth, they ate more overall," said Prof Chong. He advised parents to encourage their children to eat slower, and stop when they are full.
Dr Cornelia Chee, director of the NUH Women's Emotional Health Service and Clinical Senior Lecturer with the Department of Psychological Medicine at NUS Medicine, also said that women who present symptoms of depression had a higher chance of conceiving babies with neurodevelopmental disorders such as anxiety, depressive or disruptive behaviours disorders. This discovery led to two new studies by NUH to help mothers with mental conditions.
The GUSTO study began in October 2018 and celebrated its tenth year anniversary at National Gallery Singapore on 4 December 2018. The study was led by NUHS and NUS Medicine in collaboration with KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. More than 85 percent of the 1,247 women and families have stayed with the research programme, which led to 193 papers published in scientific journals and significant findings, one of which is the high rate of gestational diabetes among pregnant women.