About the Study
The Mothers' and Young People's Study is a multi-wave, prospective cohort study initially designed to investigate women's health after childbirth. Over time the study has expanded to include investigation of children and young people's health and wellbeing and the extent to which mothers' and children's health are inextricably linked. Over 1500 women were recruited to the study from six Melbourne metropolitan hospitals between 2003-2005.
In the early years of the study, the main focus was on women's health and recovery after childbirth. Women taking part in the study completed questionnaires and telephone interviews in early and late pregnancy and at three, six, nine, 12 and 18 months postpartum.
The study was then extended to include follow-up at four, ten and eighteen years postpartum. Over 800 women in the study have also been followed up after second and subsequent births.
Data has been collected on common maternal physical and psychological health problems, including incontinence, sexual health problems, depression, anxiety and intimate partner violence, and on a range of child health and developmental outcomes. We have also collected information regarding the social context of women and children, and changing life circumstances as the children grow up.
What is already known?
Maternal health is critical to the health and wellbeing of children and families but is rarely the focus of pregnancy and birth cohort studies. Globally, poor maternal health and the exposure of women and children to family violence contribute to the perpetuation and persistence of intergenerational health inequalities.
What does the study add?
The study has collected detailed information on maternal and child health from pregnancy to age ten. It is one of the few pregnancy cohort studies with prospectively collected data on common maternal health problems and repeated measurement of exposure to intimate partner violence spanning the period from early pregnancy to ten years postpartum. Evidence from the study has already highlighted the importance on ongoing primary care and support for mothers tailored to social context and extending well beyond the perinatal period.
The information collected is being used to inform policy and practice in primary health care, mental health and social care services.
We are currently implementing a nested sub-study following up mothers and adolescent children in the study at age 15 to 17 years to examine social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on maternal and adolescent mental health and wellbeing. In 2022, we will be commencing follow-up of the whole cohort as the young people reach 18 years of age.