Flagship national women’s study expanded

Australia’s longest-running women’s health study will be adding data about participants’ children to the mix

The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) run by researchers from The University of Queensland and the University of Newcastle will now have an additional facet – the Mothers and their Children’s Health Study (MatCH).

An NHMRC-funded sub study, MatCH will link 20 years’ worth of data on Australian women’s physical and emotional health and socio-demographic factors with outcomes for their children.

Professor Gita Mishra from The University of Queensland, who is a member of the ALSWH steering group, says researchers are inviting up to 10,000 mothers to provide information on approximately 12,500 children aged 12 and under.

She points out that ALSWH participants are women who were born between 1973 and 1978, and recruited into the study in 1996.

“That means we have years of data before their children were born, including on their physical and emotional health, health behaviours and risk factors, time use and socio-demographic factors,” says Professor Mishra.

“The MatCH study will allow us to investigate more thoroughly factors which may affect children health and development, by linking that long-term research on their mothers with survey data on their children.”

Surveys will be sent to mothers in the coming weeks, inviting them to complete information for their children aged under 13 years.

Questions cover a range of factors including diet, physical activity, sleep patterns, growth milestones, social and emotional development, use of childcare and health services, screen time, and even the size of yards, says Professor Mishra.

Information will then be linked to records from the Australian Early Development Census, NAPLAN and the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register.

“This will support a more integrated approach to primary health care for Australian families, as well as more targeted preventative strategies,” she says.

All data collected is de-identified to protect participants’ privacy.

Read more about the ALSWH here.

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