The ‘Born and Bred In’ study, known as BaBi, has reached 20,000 participants across its five recruiting sites in England.
BiB4All, the original name for the study in Bradford, is part of the world-leading Born in Bradford research programme, started recruiting in 2019 and was joined by Leeds, Wakefield, Doncaster and East London in 2022, to create the BaBi Network.
The BaBi network is an important research initiative which aims to find out what influences the health and wellbeing of families. It is a 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 will help to shape local services, creating a healthier environment for families to enjoy.
This means that with consent from pregnant women, routine data recorded by the services they access themselves or for their babies such as healthcare and education, are 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.
While each BaBi site focuses primarily on local outcomes for local people, establishing a wider BaBi network provides opportunities for important national research and learning.
The BaBi network has five recruiting sites at present, with more sites in set up, and is welcoming expressions of interest from across England.
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: “We are delighted to have hit this major milestone in recruitment within just 11 months of the creation of the BaBi network.
“We would firstly like to thank all the women who have agreed to be part of our study. The BaBi Network is only possible thanks to the generosity of women and babies who joined the BaBi family and the enthusiasm and dedication of the midwives who invited them. We are grateful to all the women, babies, health professionals and researchers who make BaBi happen.
“We are looking forward to welcoming thousands more families to the network this year.
The more women who join, the better our understanding will be of what influences the health of families in their own local area. This can then drive the way in which local services are improved and make a big difference to people’s lives for the better.”
Nigel Simpson, BaBi Leeds Principal Investigator and National Lead for the NIHR Clinical Research Network’s Reproductive Health & Childbirth Specialty, said: ‘It has been so encouraging to see the level of interest and participation from mothers and their families in Leeds for the BaBi project, which will help us to understand how best to shape future healthcare for them and their children and give them the best start in life.”
Lois Mellor, BaBi Doncaster Principal Investigator and Director of Midwifery at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals, said: “This ambitious study has been in place for just under a year at the Doncaster site and the number of participants consenting so far has been very positive.
“The study’s aims are to address health inequalities and provide better outcomes for our communities. The more families that take part, the richer the data will become, to identify how we can improve healthcare provision within our area.”
Dr Stamatina Iliodromiti, BaBi East London Principal Investigator said: “Born and Bred in (Babi) East London, as part of the BaBi Network, provides a fantastic opportunity to collect information about the pregnancy and overall health of our diverse population of women and their babies and improve maternity care.
“These women are usually underrepresented in research and we are delighted that we have created a research network that promotes inclusivity and has the potential to tackle health inequalities in maternity outcomes.
“We are extremely grateful to all our participants, our midwives and other healthcare professionals who have enthusiastically embraced and promoted the study.”
Judith Holiday, BaBi Wakefield Principal Investigator, Head of Research at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Chair of Wakefield Research Hub, said: “This milestone is testament to the passion and commitment of teams working together and with families to help achieve something special.
Midwives working on BaBi have gone above and beyond as part of their already life-changing work and the study has opened up research to people who may not have had the chance to get involved before – including frontline staff.”
“The fact that recruitment to BaBi has been so high in Wakefield district shows how positive the culture has been and how well-received the study has been by the local families approached.”