Longitudinal population studies come in many shapes and sizes – national, regional, birth cohort, household panel, prospective and retrospective. Longitudinal birth cohort studies are one of the best sources of evidence we have on how early life experiences affect later life and are a national scientific asset.
There’s a new cohort study on the block – Children Growing Up in Liverpool (C-GULL). In our latest blog, Prof Louise Kenny introduces C-GULL and explains how this exciting new study will provide evidence and insights across a range of critical issues.
The Children Growing Up in Liverpool (C-GULL) study is a pioneering longitudinal birth cohort study that aims to understand the complex interplay between genetics, environmental factors and social determinants of health in early life, plus their impact on health outcomes in childhood and beyond. It is a collaboration between researchers from the University of Liverpool, Liverpool Women’s Hospital, the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network, and the Liverpool City Region.
The C-GULL study will follow the lives of 10,000 first-born babies and their families from early pregnancy through childhood and into adulthood, collecting data on various aspects of their health, social circumstances, and environmental exposures. The study will collect data on social determinants of health such as income, education, and housing, as well as environmental exposures including air pollution and noise. It will also incorporate the use of linked data and new innovative health technologies to enable the collection of real-time health data in this unique cohort, for example wearable devices to track physical activity and sleep patterns, and mobile applications to monitor diet and mental health status.
The study’s focus on the Liverpool City Region, an area with high levels of poverty and deprivation1, is particularly important. The region faces significant challenges in accessing healthcare and support services, and the study aims to address these challenges by working closely with families and communities in the region, involving them in every stage of the research process. This partnership approach is vital for ensuring that the research is relevant and responsive to the needs of the local community.
The C-GULL study has the potential to make a significant impact on our understanding of complex health issues and improve health outcomes for families not only in the Liverpool City Region and in similar regions across the UK and wider. By bringing together the expertise and resources of key partners, the study is well-positioned to make meaningful and actionable discoveries while promoting engagement and trust with the local community.
Longitudinal birth cohort studies such as C-GULL are powerful tools for understanding the development of health issues over time. They have led to major scientific discoveries, such as the link between smoking and lung cancer, the impact of air pollution on health, and the importance of early childhood experiences on later life outcomes. The C-GULL study represents a valuable addition to this field of research, particularly in its focus on social determinants of health, environmental exposures, and new innovative health technologies.
C-GULL is a pioneering longitudinal birth cohort study that has the potential to make a significant impact on our understanding of complex health issues. Its strengths lie in its ability to collect meaningful information on socio-context, environment, and mental health. By working in partnership with key stakeholders and involving families and communities in the research process, the C-GULL study serves as a model for how science can enable meaningful and actionable discoveries that can improve the lives of communities facing significant challenges in accessing healthcare and support services.
Professor Louise Kenny is Executive Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at the University of Liverpool.
Kenny, L. (2023). ‘Introducing the Children Growing Up in Liverpool (C-GULL) study’. CLOSER. 25 April 2023. Available at: https://closer.ac.uk/news-opinion/blog/introducing-the-children-growing-up-in-liverpool-c-gull-study/