New Born in Bradford project is a breath of fresh air for Bradford school kids

The landmark Born in Bradford (BiB) research programme, based at Bradford Royal Infirmary, is set to start an exciting new project with primary school children across the city to measure levels of pollution and how pollution affects our health.

The ‘BiB Breathes’ study, which is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), has been set up in response to plans by Bradford Council into introduce a ‘Clean Air Zone’ in Bradford to try to reduce levels of pollution in the city.

Working with teams from the University of Leeds,  University of York, St. Stephen’s C of E Primary School, and Bradford Council, the project will involve training hundreds of primary school age pupils to become ‘citizen scientists’ and monitor levels of pollution they are exposed in school and during their daily commute.

The measurements will be used to track how effective Bradford’s Clean Air Zone is in reducing children’s exposure to pollution over a two year period. The team will also track the impact of the Clean Air Zone on birth outcomes and lung and heart health in adults and children by looking at the number of emergency and hospital GP attendances related to these conditions 3 years before and after the introduction of the Clean Air Zone.

Professor Rosie McEachan, Director of Born in Bradford who is leading the study, said “Poor air quality is a major cause of illness, and children are particularly vulnerable to its effects. With the help of our pupil citizen scientists, our new BiB Breathes study will be able to find out how exposed children are to pollution, and how best we can reduce exposure.”

The team also plans to use its findings to inspire the next generation of budding researchers by working with teachers and pupils to develop science learning materials.

Jamie Thorpe, Head of Science at St. Stephen’s Primary School, said “We’re delighted to be involved in this exciting project.  Our pupils have already had a chance to try out the monitors and it’s been a real eye-opener to see how much pollution there is in our local community. It’s been brilliant to inspire an interest in science by letting pupils experience real-world research”. The project will also be able to explore how travel patterns have changed in response to the recent lockdown restrictions and whether these have caused a sustained change to traffic-related pollution in the city.

Professor John Wright, Director of the Bradford Institute for Health Research and Respiratory Physician who is involved with the study said “There is increasing evidence that pollution is linked to greater severity of COVID-19 symptoms. Traffic pollution levels dropped during lockdown, but have already gone back to pre-lockdown levels. This important project will give us the information we need to help find ways to minimise the harm of pollution in the city and keep our communities healthy.”

Editors note:

  1. Born in Bradford

Born in Bradford (BiB) is one of the largest birth cohort research studies in the world, tracking the lives of over 30,000 Bradfordians to find out what influences the health and wellbeing of families. We use our findings to develop new and practical ways to work with families and health professionals to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities. The Born in Bradford project is hosted by the Bradford Institute of Health Research which is located at the Bradford Royal Infirmary, part of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

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For more information:

  1. Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust:

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is responsible for providing hospital services for the people of Bradford and communities across Yorkshire. We serve a core population of around 500,000 and provide specialist services for 1.1 million people.

Our 5,500 staff work over several sites, including Bradford Royal Infirmary, which provides the majority of inpatient services, and St Luke’s Hospital, which predominantly provides outpatient and rehabilitation services. We also manage local community hospitals at Westwood Park, Westbourne Green, and Eccleshill.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of five trusts across England chosen to host a new regional Patient Recruitment Centre (PRC). The new research centre, part of £7m Government investment, will help people across the region access important late-phase commercial clinical research and vital treatment trials, including into COVID-19.

A new £28 million wing was recently opened at Bradford Royal Infirmary, part of a £75m investment to improve patient care across our hospitals over a five-year period. It provides world-class facilities for elderly care, children’s services, a state-of-the-art intensive care unit with increased single-room provision and a retail concourse.

The new Command Centre opened at BRI in 2019, which allows staff to optimise patient flow throughout the hospital by providing them with real-time information and data through a ‘wall of analytics’. The Trust won the Early Adapter of the Year 2020 award for the development of this new Command Centre.

These projects are continuations of our work to improve patient experience after our new £2 million neonatal unit officially opened. Our maternity services were recently shortlisted for the Royal College of Midwives’ (RCM) Midwifery Service of the Year Award, recognising excellence and innovation in the provision of maternity care.

As a teaching hospital, we are at the forefront of education and development in healthcare, and have an excellent reputation for research performance. We are one of the leading centres in conducting applied research in the country, particularly in quality and safety, elderly care and rehabilitation.

The Trust is home to the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR) where researchers have led the development, validation and implementation of the award-winning Bradford Electronic Frailty Index (eFI) which helps calculate an elderly person’s risk of disability, impairment, falls and complications of chronic diseases, as well as their diminishing independence and capability. This is now being used by 98% of all GPs across the country.

The Wolfson Centre for applied Health Research opened in 2019. Bringing together researchers from the University of Leeds, University of Bradford and the Trust, it hosts a centre for child health, the Centre for Ageing, and the National Institute for Health Research’s National Patient Safety Centre.

Our award-winning Ophthalmology department is home to numerous worldwide clinical trials taking the lead in eye care research and we are one of only three sites in the United Kingdom to be enlisted in the Perioperative Enhanced Recovery Hip Fracture Care of Patients with Dementia (PERFECTED) study, which will investigate how the NHS can introduce better standards of care to improve outcomes for people with dementia.

The Trust has its own Bradford Hospitals Charity:

Follow us on Twitter: @BTHFT

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  1. National Institute for Health Research:

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation’s largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  • Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  • Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  • Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  • Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  • Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.


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