Doctor and baby

World leading research programme launches in Wakefield

A new “world-leading” research programme has launched in Wakefield, which is seeking to find out what influences the health and wellbeing of families in the local community.

The Born and Bred in Wakefield (BaBi Wakefield) study will link existing data across health, education, and social care to create a more holistic picture of Wakefield families’ lives – subsequently informing the relevant local powers on how to shape their services and improve health outcomes.

Data like blood pressure measurements during ante-natal appointments and the details of babies’ height and weight will be recorded – with consent from the mothers – and by analysing any patterns in the data, the researchers can ascertain what works and what doesn’t, ultimately helping to improve local services.

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 group 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.”

The priorities of the programme are said to be:

  • To look for patterns which may help identify early indications on poor health and wellbeing.
  • To link together data which is routinely collected by multiple services.
  • To investigate how the health and wellbeing of mothers and children develops over time.
  • To share information with all women booking maternity services in Wakefield District.
  • To include more women in BaBi Wakefield every year.

Councillor Maureen Cummings, Chair of Wakefield District Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “It’s so important that every child born in Wakefield District has the best start in life, and BaBi Wakefield will help make that possible.

“I hope all our parents and new babies will become part of the study, as the more people join, the more we will know about the health and well-being of our children and how to improve it. If you’re expecting a baby, or know someone who is, please do talk to your midwife about signing up to BaBi Wakefield.”

The initial BaBi concept began in Bradford forming part of the pioneering Born in Bradford research programme. The findings of said programme have led to a range of both local and international changes and advancements.

Examples of which include the discovery of the link between air pollution and ill-health, resulting in Bradford Council cleaning up their buses – their biggest polluter.

The research has also led to recommendations for changes in international guidelines pertaining to the chemical acrylamide, which can be formed when starchy foods (think crisps or chips) are fried at extremely high temperatures. Acrylamide can cross the placenta, and exposure during pregnancy can lead to a lower birth weight.

Find out more about the new research programme by clicking here.

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