Over 20,000 participants will be invited to Bristol health study Children of the 90s’ biggest ever clinic which has launched today (Friday 17 September).
The new @30 clinic – named to mark the world-renowned health study’s 30th anniversary – will be the first clinic where all three generations in the study are invited to take part.
The Children of the 90s health study, based at the University of Bristol, recruited 14,000 pregnant women from the Bristol area between 1991 and 1992 and has followed their lives, as well as that of their children and grandchildren ever since.
Over the next two years, all participants will receive an email invitation to attend a 2-3 hour clinic with appointments on offer 7 days a week. This includes the original Children of the 90s (now aged 29-30), their parents (aged 50+), their children (aged 0-15) & their partners (if they have children). For the original parents, including the original mothers who signed up to take part in the 1990s, it has been at least seven years since most of them were last involved in a face-to-face clinic.
The @30 clinic is supported by multiple sources including the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council, the University of Bristol and an £8 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
Data collected from participants will add to the Bristol-based study’s unprecedented resource of detailed health, lifestyle and genetic data. Participants will take part in multiple assessments of their health and wellbeing (details below) such as height and weight, lung function, blood pressure, liver and bone scans as well as vision and hearing measures for some. Participants will be asked to hop and balance on a force plate or hold a hand grip dynameter to test their physical capability and strength. A DXA scan will measure fat, lean mass and bone density while a new ‘GlycoCheck’ test involves placing a small microscope under a participant’s tongue to look at the architecture of vascular tissue.
An additional questionnaire will ask participants questions such as how happy they are on that day to what their religious beliefs are. From this data, researchers hope to understand the relationship between lifestyle behaviours, health and wellbeing.
The study is unique in the world for its detailed collection of health and biological data. It has contributed to scientific knowledge across a wide range of health and development areas – including autism, pregnancy, child development, obesity and diabetes.
Researchers can access more than 85,000 data variables and 1.5 million bio samples collected from three generations of study participants through questionnaires, clinics and linked administrative record data.
It is scientifically important in identifying early signs of disease – for instance a recent breakthrough showed that early signs of fatty liver disease are present in 1 in 5 healthy young adults. With data across three generations of participants, the study data also shows how genes and life events can contribute to health conditions passing between generations, from parent to child.
During the pandemic the government has relied on data from studies such as Children of the 90s to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on health, lifestyle and families, and is using its data to learn more about the nature of COVID-19 infections, immunity and long COVID.
Professor Jean Golding, who set up the study in the early 90s said: “When we first set up the study, I thought we might follow the children until they were age 7. Here we are 30 years on, and the amount of information we’ve got is world-beating. Nobody else has got anything like it, and as a result, scientists can answer all sorts of questions that can’t be answered any other way”.
Professor Nic Timpson, Principal Investigator of Children of the 90s comments:
“In recent times the Children of the 90s health study provided important insights about COVID-19 and its impact, but that’s just one example of its impact. For decades, the study’s enormous bank of health data and biological samples has enabled scientific discoveries across a broad range of diseases and health. Whether that be pregnancy health, arthritis, obesity, mental health or autism.
“The upcoming @30 clinic will build on this data with repeat health measures combined with new cutting-edge science. We will invite our pregnant mums to have the lining of their blood vessels – the glycocalyx – measured using a microscopic digital camera held under their tongue (like the thermometers we used years ago). This will help us learn more about the role of the glycocalyx in cardiovascular disease and pregnancy complications like pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and premature delivery. “
Children of the 90s Discoveries
Children of the 90s’ data has contributed to discoveries that have impacted science and government policy. Through the study data, researchers have found that:
- Anxiety levels double in young people during the COVID-19 pandemic, when compared to previous levels.
- New research has found that one in every 340 people might carry a mutation in a single gene that makes them more likely to have a greater weight from early childhood and, by 18 years of age, they could be up to 30 pounds heavier with the excess weight likely to be mostly fat.
- Babies sleep more safely on their backs – leading to the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign and saving thousands of lives.
- Babies exposed to skin creams containing peanut oil were more likely to develop a peanut allergy. Now, all products must clearly list the ingredient, and many have removed it.
- Early signs of a genetic liability to Type 2 diabetes can be seen in children as young as 8 years old.
Participants can return to Children of the 90s at any time
If you were born in the Avon area between April 1991 and December 1992 then you may be eligible to take part. Parents (men and women) of the original study children can also attend the @30 Clinic, and men are particularly welcome as data on fathers/men’s health is lacking across studies like this. To get back in touch, text your full name and date of birth to 07772 909090 or visit www.childrenofthe90s.ac.uk
Children of the 90s new @30 Clinic – key facts
– A 2-3 hour-long assessment will include blood samples, DXA scan, height, weight and other measures
– All participants are invited to attend – original Children of the 90s (aged 29-30 years), their parents, their children (and their partners if they have a child)
– For each clinic, a £40 voucher plus travel expenses will be given as thank you
– Appointments will take place 7 days a week, including occasional evenings.