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Theirworld Edinburgh Birth Cohort

This research programme studies the long-term effects of early birth. The study includes social, educational and clinical information. It is the first research initiative in the world to investigate perinatal brain injury this comprehensively.

This is a unique project which will help give babies the chance of the best start in life and Theirworld is proud to fund it.

Sarah Brown, Chair of Theirworld

What is the Edinburgh Birth Cohort?

The Theirworld Edinburgh Birth Cohort is a 25-year study to learn more about how being born too soon or too small affects people’s health in later life.

Researchers from the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh are monitoring the progress of 400 premature babies to adulthood, to find new ways to prevent and treat brain injury in premature babies.

As the children grow up, the research team will track their health and development by collecting biological samples and brain scans as well as information on their educational attainment. They will monitor the babies at birth and then see them again after nine months, then after two years, five years and every five years until they are 25.

The team will use the information to help identify the causes and long-term consequences of brain injury at birth, and to identify any risk and resilience factors for healthy brain development. They hope the research could help with the development of new treatments to improve the health of premature babies.

The £1.5 million initiative is funded by Theirworld. It was launched in November 2015 by the charity’s Founder and President Sarah Brown.

“We are so grateful to the families generously giving their time with their precious babies to share information and contribute to this study over the coming years.”

Sarah Brown, Chair of Theirworld

About the issue of Premature Birth

Premature birth, which occurs before 37 weeks in pregnancy, affects around 15 million babies each year and is associated with increased risk of cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders, and learning difficulties.

“In recent years survival rates for these children have improved - but they often live with serious consequences of early brain injury, which limits their potential. Following children from birth to adulthood will help us understand the most important determinants of risk and resilience for long-term outcome after premature birth, and by studying biological samples we hope to develop treatments to improve their lifelong health.”

James Boardman, leading researcher at the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory

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