What is the Developing Human Connectome Project?

The Developing Human Connectome Project (dHCP) is a study to map the growth of the baby’s brain during pregnancy and how it continues to develop after birth.

What is involved?

If you decide to participate in the project, we would invite you to have an antenatal MRI scan in your mid to late pregnancy. Once you have delivered your baby, we would like to invite your baby in for another MRI scan. These MRI scans we will collect imaging data on your baby’s brain and how it has developed.

You will be shown the images after the examinations and given a copy on CD. The scans will be looked at by an expert and we will send you a written report. Sometimes we may contact you by phone or invite you into a clinic to discuss the results further.

Each part of study is voluntary, and you can opt out at any point.

You may like to go online and watch a short video explaining the MRI procedure in more detail and what you can expect when you come for your scan and the consenting process: http://vimeo.com/37368763

The science behind the project: what is a connectome?

This map of the connections in the brain is called a connectome and it will allow doctors and scientists to better understand how the brain normally grows and also how problems might arise.

Imaging babies, both during pregnancy and after birth, is a huge challenge which requires cutting-edge equipment and methods. Teams at King’s College London, Imperial College London and the University of Oxford we will create not just a map, but a whole atlas of the developing brain and connections forming inside.

Interested in the science behind the project ? click to find out more

Why your scan matters?

In order to study how the brain grows, we need a to scan babies at a range of ages, from pregnancy until a few weeks after birth. A connectome map is being built in adults, but this is the first connectome study of early life. With your help we will make the first steps into understanding normal brain development and every scan will provide us with valuable and precious data.

Meet the Team

We have a team of doctors, nurses, midwives, researchers and specialists who work together on dHCP.

You will have regular and direct contact with a member of the dHCP research team who will be your point of contact if you have any questions about dHCP.

What happens after the scan?

After the scans, we will:

  • keep in contact with you

  • arrange any further scans you agree to

  • arrange for a follow up assessment at 18 months to look at your child’s developmental progress

We will also ask your permission to collect some of your baby’s saliva. This is so we can look at your baby’s genetics and see how they relate to the brain images.

Are there any side effects of taking part?

MRI is safe for both you and your baby and has no known side effects associated with it. It does not involve the use of either X-rays or radiation. MRI uses magnets and so we will check that you or your baby are metal free before the scan.

People who cannot travel in a lift because of claustrophobia may find it unacceptable.

The machine can be noisy when it is taking images, so we give you headphones to lower this sound.

Want to get involved?

If you would like us to send you further information or if you would like to make an appointment to discuss taking part with our dedicated team then please contact us here and we will be in touch with you.