Why is the Born in Bradford cohort study important for child health?

Publication authors

John Wright, Rosemary McEachan, Mathew Mathai


The health inequalities highlighted in the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s ‘State of Child Health in the UK’ report and the ‘Health equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 years on’ have come as no surprise to those of us working in communities and on the National Health Service front line. The current COVID-19 pandemic and the economic risks associated with Brexit will only widen these inequities. If we are serious about solving our ‘wicked’ public health problems then we need to understand our population by looking beyond the biomedical model of health to take account of the dynamic complexity of the wider social, economic and environmental determinants that shape our children’s health.

The Born in Bradford (BiB) longitudinal birth cohort study was established in 2007 to investigate the impact of genetic, metabolic, clinical, nutritional, sociodemographic and environmental factors on the physical and mental health of our children.1 The original recruitment of 13 818 children from birth has been expanded in subsequent cohort follow-ups to over 20 000 children. Bradford is one of the poorest cities in the UK, but it is rich in its ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. It is a city with some of the highest levels of child poverty and ill-health and some of the lowest levels of educational achievement and healthy life expectancy in the UK.2

What distinguishes BiB from other birth cohorts is its focus on change and community empowerment. BiB was designed from the start not just to describe problems, but to provide useful evidence to policy makers and practitioners and ways of partnership working to develop solutions. Research is embedded within routine clinical practice, local government, schools and communities to promote the translation of evidence into practice from conception through childhood, and into adulthood. It is a ‘people-powered’ research programme …