A ground-breaking study from the University of Bristol is using data from thousands of local people to research the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that has come with it.
For many, the Children of the 90s health study is as quintessentially part of Bristol life as cider and Banksy. If you’re not in the study yourself, then you may well know someone who is.
Launched in the early 90s, over 14,500 women who were due to give birth in the Bristol area (including Weston and South Gloucestershire) between April 1991 and 1992 were recruited to take part. Since then, the babies of these women have undergone everything from blood tests to brain scans, and their data has been used by researchers around the world to help change policy and improve public health.
Now Children of the 90s participants are being called upon to play a vital role in the current pandemic, providing invaluable COVID-19 data that is being fed directly to those responsible for updating policy to respond to the current challenge.
Principal investigator Professor Nic Timpson explains: “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK in March, we found ourselves in a unique position thanks to the long term nature of the data we have collected, and the thousands of local people who actively take part”.
Almost immediately, the study set up a series of COVID-19 online questionnaires to track how the virus and lockdown have affected the three generations of participants.
With this latest COVID-19 health data alongside the historical data, Children of the 90s researchers can address important questions for government policymakers, helping them make important decisions about COVID-19 and lockdown.
Natasha Wedlake, a participant from Kingswood, explains why it’s so important to answer the latest questionnaire: “It always made me feel a bit special as a child when we got a new questionnaire. Now Children of the 90s has such a huge amount of background environmental and genetic information which could help identify potential risk factors. With all the confusion and people losing their lives, I feel morally obliged to do anything I can, and something as simple as doing a questionnaire is so easy to do. I’d say to anyone who can, use the time you would have been commuting to complete it!”
“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” continues Timpson. “Our participants are making a difference to science in real-time. This is evolving rapidly and the questionnaire findings are already being looked at by people who make policy decisions. At the moment we need as many of our participants to take part as possible as every completed questionnaire can help.”
Children of the 90s is calling on participants to get back in touch and help with this vital research, even if they haven’t done anything for a long time. If you were born in the Avon area between April 1991 and 1992 then you may be eligible to take part. Parents of the original babies can also answer the simple questionnaire. To get back in touch, text your full name and date of birth to 07772 909090 or visit www.childrenofthe90s.ac.uk/update-your-details