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Special milestone for Born in Bradford study

Published: Tue 8 Dec 2015

Born in Bradford, one of the biggest and most important medical research studies undertaken in the UK, is celebrating a milestone.

It is 10 years since the launch of the study, which is looking to answer questions about the city’s health by tracking the lives of nearly 14,000 babies and their families.

The special birthday, on 8 December, is being marked by the BiB team with a celebration cake.

A decade ago, supporters from across the city including the NHS, Bradford Council, and the University of Bradford came together with local press and TV to announce plans for a study which would look at the health of babies born across the Bradford district and follow them throughout their childhood.

The aim was to allow researchers to explore the causes of the high levels of illness experienced in Bradford and to come up with ways of addressing the problems and improving the health of this and future generations of Bradfordians.

Programme manager Rosie McEachan said: “Born in Bradford’s original target was to recruit 10,000 pregnant women. This seemed like a mountain to climb in 2005. But, through 2006, we prepared: we raised funds and we talked to local communities about what was of concern to them in relation to their children’s health.  We then invited pregnant Mums being cared for at Bradford Royal Infirmary to join the study.

“We began recruitment in 2007 and stopped in 2011. In that time we are now delighted to say that 12,096 women agreed to join the study. Some women had more than one pregnancy during the years of recruitment and some had twins (even triplets) so in the end the study included 13,406 babies.”

She added that the BiB team was still in touch with the vast majority of these mums and their children who are now aged between 4 and 8 years. Including parents, around 28,000 Bradfordians are directly involved in the study, and many other family members, friends and professionals in the city are supporting the project.

“We wanted the city to feel that this was their study and to be proud of contributing to our work. All our BiB families and local supporters are participating in research that will leave a lasting legacy for future generations in this city and in similar cities around the world,” said Rosie.

BiB Director John Wright added: “We wanted this to be a city project that everyone participates in and we have certainly achieved that. The new scientific knowledge that has emerged from BiB is shaping policies both in the UK and globally to promote cleaner air, safer food and better treatments.

“We also wanted to use the study as a catalyst for change to improve health services in the city and this is the aspect we are most proud of achieving. Based on our results we have been able to provide new services, new facilities and new technologies to help patients in Bradford.”

BiB has had some notable successes in some areas that are of great concern in Bradford. These areas include the impact of pollution, developing ways of dealing with obesity and identifying and responding to diabetes.

Along with these successes and others in midwifery, in understanding congenital anomalies in Bradford, in tackling vitamin D deficiency and in looking at food quality, the main achievement of BiB is summed up by Neil Small, a member of the BiB Executive and Professor of Health Research at the University of Bradford.

He says: “Our main achievement is our ability to engage with local people and with health care providers and policy makers to share knowledge and understanding of the factors that shape the wellbeing of children and families in this multicultural city.

“The professionals involved in BiB have developed a strong sense of ownership of the study and changed care and services as appropriate. Having BiB helps enhance skills for staff working in the city, and this will continue to improve services. But our research also generates findings that are relevant for policy at local, national and international levels. We will continue to work with national and international policy makers to raise awareness of emerging issues in relation to the health and wellbeing of children and their families.”

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