New siblings to join world leading research programme in Yorkshire
6 July 2022
Three Yorkshire cities will be joining the Born in Bred in Research network.
BaBi (Born and Bred in) is an important research initiative which aims to find out what influences the health and wellbeing of families. Over time, this will help to shape local services, creating a healthier environment for families to enjoy. BaBi is network of local birth cohort studies that work together to link existing data across health, education, and social care to create a picture of families’ lives over time.
This means that, with consent from pregnant women, routine data recorded by the services they access themselves or for their babies is joined together anonymously. This helps to create a bigger picture of local people’s health, for research purposes. By looking for patterns in the data, the research can give valuable insights into what works well and what can be made better, helping us to improve our services for the future.
Routine recorded data includes lots of different things, such as, blood pressure measurements from when a woman sees her midwife, or the details of baby’s height and weight recorded by health visitors. The concept began in Bradford, where it is part of the world-leading Born in Bradford research programme. Now, in an exciting venture to help more local people in different locations, three new areas in Yorkshire have joined the study as local research sites. Doncaster, Leeds and Wakefield are all now part of the BaBi family.
Whilst each BaBi site focuses primarily on local outcomes for local people, establishing a wider BaBi network provides opportunities for important national research and learning. Listening to parents, families and practitioners to drive the way in which local services are improved is really important, and BaBi provides the opportunity to do just that. This starts with setting the local priorities for each research site, and continues as the research progresses.
Parents, families and practitioners in each area are invited to join with researchers and medical staff in a workshop to discuss local health priorities and understand what matters most in their area. This then informs the local research priorities the study is used for.
Sally Bridges, BaBi Network Director, at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation NHS Trust said: “Connecting routinely collected data for women and their children is a hugely valuable and efficient way to help researchers answer questions that lead to real improvements in families’ health and wellbeing. At Born in Bradford, we have been working with families locally since 2007 to understand what helps to keep families happy and healthy. We then use what we learn to work closely with local services to make improvements that affect the health and wellbeing of our communities. We are delighted to welcome our new Yorkshire research sites to the BaBi family, so that more families and areas can enjoy the benefits this research can bring about.”
Nigel Simpson, BaBi Leeds Principal Investigator and Consultant Obstetrician at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, said:
“We are delighted to be joining the BaBi family, which will give us invaluable insights into the health and well-being of our mothers and babies which we can use to look for patterns and early indications of where improvements in care may be made. These studies may also be used to shape local research priorities and help us understand how to optimise the health of our children in Leeds, which in turn can be fed back to the council and other policy makers to determine where to put more services and investment to improve their future”.
As part of the study, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals has appointed a dedicated research midwife to the study, Kerry Dooley. Speaking about the project, she said: “Following babies from birth through to childhood and onwards is a really powerful way of understanding the many influences that go on to shape our lives.
“This research will carry on the successful work by the Born in Bradford team, who have conducted many research studies involving data provided by their local families. There have been some really important findings through their studies, for example, the effects that maternal obesity has on the weight of newborn babies, the importance of providing green spaces for reducing maternal depression and the associated benefit this brings to their young children.
“We want to use the data to understand what the needs and challenges are - especially those caused by inequalities - and bridge those gaps with local services that offer improved outcomes and greater inclusivity for our communities.
“We are keen to find out what matters to our local people and welcome your thoughts on research topics you would like the programme to explore. Do not hesitate to get in touch to give your suggestions.”
John Ashcroft, Director of Research at Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “BaBi Wakefield is a fantastic opportunity which will help to develop and improve health services for local people for many years to come. We will focus on maternity services initially, following our first cohort of participants through pregnancy, birth and into childhood. This will give us invaluable insights into families’ lives over time which researchers will use to look for patterns and early indications of where improvements might be made to facilitate even better child and family health.”