BHRUT chosen to host pioneering life study that could shape generations

PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 March 2015

Actress and Comedian Meera Syal at the launch of the new Life Study Centre in King George Hospital, Goodmayes

Actress and Comedian Meera Syal at the launch of the new Life Study Centre in King George Hospital, Goodmayes


The centre of a new study, tracking the progress of more than 80,000 babies born to mothers in Redbridge and Havering, opened last week in Goodmayes.

Actress and Life Study Ambassador, Meera Syal helped open the centre, in Barley Lane, Goodmayes, on Thursday, along with Mayor of Redbridge, Cllr Ashley Kissin.

The study, the largest ever conducted in the United Kingdom, will track more than 80,000 babies as they grow up.

Babies are assessed before they are born, at six months and once again at 12 months.

The growth, development, health, wellbeing and social circumstances of the participants are tracked.

The study hopes to find out why some children find it easier to learn at school, what parents can do to help children be “ready to learn” and why some children get asthma or eczema.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) was chosen from all trusts across the UK, to host the first Life Study centre.

Professor Carol Dezateux, scientific director of Life Study, explained why the project was being carried out.

She said: “The problem with earlier studies is that babies and parents growing up in the UK were very different to how they are now and with Life Study we want to understand all the different types of families in the UK today.”

Professor Dezateux said there were three reasons BHRUT was chosen over other NHS trusts.

“First of all BHRUT is very ethnically diverse, more than 80 per cent of children born in Redbridge last year were from black or ethnic minority backgrounds, much higher than the national average.

“It is also an area with massive growth in under fives and a trust which has a massive commitment to research.”

Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of BHRUT, said: “We recruit increasing numbers of patients into research studies.

“We want to get to a place in the future where we are not only renowned for good clinical care but actually renowned for being a place that uses research to drive innovation and improvement.

“What Life Study does is gives an excellent partnership with University College London (UCL) which we hope will spawn other projects.”

Dr Leye Thompson, the lead consultant on the project, from Queen’s Hospital Romford, said the project would help prevent illness as well as boost funding forBHRUT.

Dr Thompson said: “At the end of this we will be able to say, this person is likely to have this condition or that person is likely to have that problem.

“Rather than waiting and fire fighting we can start to prevent these problems earlier.”

Dr Thompson also explained how the study would help midwives in the future.

“The project is a way to get funding and finance and political help,” he added.

“There are a lot of mothers I have looked after which could have done with a bit more funding and a bit more time and a bit more attention.”

Recruitment began in October 2014 with mothers giving birth at Queen’s Hospital being encouraged to take part.

Two further centres, in Leicester and the north of England, are to be opened.

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