Research Projects

Below, an overview of ScanLab’s research topics is provided.

Cannabis use in pregnancy

Cannabis use is common among pregnant women, while the potential consequences on offspring development are unclear. ScanLab investigates the consequences of prenatal cannabis use on fetal growth, development of child psychopathology and brain morphology to elucidate the potential effects on neurodevelopment

Tobacco smoking in pregnancy

While the consequences of smoking on health is well-established. To a lesser extent the consequences of maternal and paternal smoking on brain development are explored. ScanLabs team is focused on understanding how both maternal and paternal smoking influence child development.

Alcohol use in pregnancy

It is widely know that alcohol use in pregnancy is related to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). ScanLab is focused on early identification of children at risk of developing FASD. For this purpose, we recently started a study using data from a high-risk cohort in South Africa, and virtual reality ultrasound to visualize early brain development.


While we often think of pregnancy as a happy period, but many women experience psychological distress. ScanLab investigates how maternal and paternal psychopathology (e.g. depression and anxiety) develops over time, how it affects parental health, and how parental psychological problems affects child physical and brain development.

Medication use

While it was long thought that the whomb was a safe environment for the fetus, we now know that substances, including medications, can interfere with fetal development as medications can pass the placental barrier. The ScanLab team investigates associatons of medication, including antidepressants, anxiolytics, NSAIDs and acetaminophen (i.e. paracetamol) on offspring development.

Timing of birth

Some babies are born 4 weeks too early, others 3 weeks past the due date. ScanLab investigates how pregnancy duration is related to later child development. Our research group has shown clear assocations of gestational duration with ADHD symptoms and brain morphology.

Air pollution

Air pollution is a global health issue. Knowledge is increasing on the potential consequences of air pollution on health. ScanLab studies how prenatal and childhood exposure to air pollution (e.g. fine particles) affects child development. We have shown that children growing up in areas with high levels of air pollution shwo differences in brain morphology.

Overweight and obesity

Rates of obesity are increasing among parents and their children. In Rotterdam, over 25% of the children growing up are overweight. It has been proposed that obesity and overweight cause low-grade inflammatory responses, and that these responses can affect brain development. The ScanLab team investigates how the brain develops in children exposed to maternal obesity and childhood obesity.

Neonatal pain and anesthetics

In the Sophia Children’s Hospital, each year many newborns need specialized care or surgeries due to illness at the neonatal intensive care unit. One of our projects, focuses on how pain, early life exposure to opioids and anesthetics affect brain development later in life.