World-leading research programme tracking health of babies launched in Wakefield

A world-leading research programme that aims to find out what influences the health and wellbeing of families has opened in Wakefield District.

By Shawna Healey, Meta Community Reporter
Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 4:47 pm
Bibi is a world-leading research programme that aims to find out what influences the health and wellbeing of families.
Bibi is a world-leading research programme that aims to find out what influences the health and wellbeing of families.

Born and Bred in Wakefield (BaBi Wakefield) is a study that links existing data across health, education, and social care to create a picture of families’ lives.

Over time, this will help to shape local services, creating a healthier environment for families to enjoy.

With consent from pregnant women, routine data recorded by the services they access themselves or for their babies is joined together anonymously.

Baby Louis, who was born on May 10, is the first BiBi baby.

This helps to create a bigger picture of local people’s health, for research purposes.

By looking for patterns in the data, the research can give valuable insights into what works well and what can be made better, helping to improve local services for the future.

Routine recorded data includes lots of different things, such as blood pressure measurements during ante-natal appointments, or the details of baby’s height and weight recorded by health visitors.

One of the first local mums to sign up to be part of the study was Mary Rogers from Featherstone. Mary’s son, Louie, who was born at Pinderfields Hospital on Tuesday May 10, is the first BaBi Wakefield baby.

Mary said: “I feel really proud and excited that Louie is the first baby recruited to BaBi Wakefield.”

Mary and baby Louie’s midwife, Claire Dillon, said: “This project will contribute to improving the health, care, and wellbeing of people across Wakefield District.

“It’s really easy to sign up and only takes two minutes to go through the form with your midwife during one of your routine appointments.

“The population of Wakefield is growing and so by doing the work now, we’re helping everyone in the long run. By the time the babies in this trial have their own children, we could be seeing the effects of this study.”

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 BaBi concept began in Bradford, where it is part of the world-leading Born in Bradford research programme.

The findings of the research have led to a number of local and international changes and improvements.

For example, as a result of the research on the link between air pollution and ill-health, Bradford Council has cleaned up the buses that pollute the air the most.

Evidence from the research has also led to recommendations in international guidelines for lowering exposure to acrylamide, a chemical which can be formed when starchy foods are cooked or fried at very high temperatures (for example, crisps and chips).

Acrylamide can cross the placenta, and exposure during pregnancy can lead to a lower birth weight.