RECRUITMENT started last week for a pilot study that is part of a major research project to track the health of 10,000 Queensland families during the next three decades.
Mater Research, a Catholic institution and part of the Mater Group, is planning the largest group cohort study in the state since the 1980s, in collaboration with Queensland universities and hospitals.
Preceding the Queensland-wide study, Mater Mothers’ Hospital has started a pilot study of 200 families which will run over the next five or six months.
Lead researcher Professor Vicki Clifton said the Queensland Family Cohort Pilot Study at the Mater would follow families – monitoring women’s health during pregnancy (from 20 weeks gestation), assessing their partners’ health and examining perinatal outcomes.
“We hope to discover new biomarkers and interventions that improve the health of all Queenslanders,” Prof Clifton said.
“Cohort studies help us understand what we are like now in terms of health, and what that means for future health services.
“We’re interested in seeing how environmental exposures and pollution data may affect our health.
“At the end of the pilot, not only will we have a great deal of information about the health of our reproductive age population, we’ll also be talking to families, researchers and scientists to find out if the process worked for them and how can we perfect this for the Queensland Family Cohort Study.
“We want to be sure it’s as easy as possible to collect this data, fitting in with the routines of both medical professionals and participating families.”
Research midwife Janelle McAlpine encouraged women and their partners who planned to deliver at Mater Mothers’ Hospital to join the study.
“Through this study, parents have the opportunity to directly impact the future health of their children,” Ms McAlpine said.
“We will be recruiting women and their partners, from a diverse range of backgrounds, in two phases over the next five months.
“We are making the process as simple as possible, with both the mother and partner completing questionnaires and supplying biological samples at various points throughout their pregnancy and at a six-week postpartum follow-up.
“Families will be assigned one research midwife for the duration of their pregnancy who will guide them through the process, providing extra support during pregnancy, birth and the first few weeks.”
Prof Clifton said the pilot study would provide a blueprint for researchers in developing the much larger Queensland Family Cohort Study, while also supporting a wide range of research.
“More than 200 researchers will be accessing the information captured as part of the trial for research into allergies, obesity and melanoma in pregnancy, to name a few,” she said.
There have been numerous birth cohort studies throughout Australia and internationally, but none carried out at a large scale across Queensland.
Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland, Mater Foundation, Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University and Brisbane Diamantina Health Partners will fund the pilot project.
Anyone who is interested in participating in the trial and is 12-20 weeks pregnant contact firstname.lastname@example.org.