Read the latest Children of the 90s family newsletter 2015 (PDF, 1,162kB)‌.

Children of the 90s is a long-term health research project that started in the early 1990s. It recruited more than 14,000 pregnant women who were due to give birth between April 1991 and December 1992. These women and their families have been involved ever since.

Map of the original ALSPAC recruitment area, superimposed on a map provided by OpenStreetMap (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license (CC-BY-SA)).The Children of the 90s recruitment area, using map data from OpenStreetMap. Click to expand.

The women were recruited in Bristol and its surrounding area, including some of Somerset and Gloucestershire. The Children of the 90s project sits within the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol but works with researchers all over the world.

Children of the 90s is a longitudinal birth cohort study. This means that we follow a group of people throughout their lives to help discover the causes of the most important health and social problems facing the world today. It is not the only such project, but is unique in having such a rich set of information on so many people.

As well as the original mothers and their children, we are now inviting the fathers to take part, as well as the brothers and sisters and the grandparents. As the young participants have their own children, we are beginning to study them as well. If you are eligible, we are interested in hearing from you even if you have lost touch for a long time or if you have never taken part.

This short film looks at some of the families and researchers involved. Click in the bottom right to show it full-screen.

Participants have given a huge amount of detailed information, by visiting our clinic, letting us take samples and measurements, and filling in questionnaires. As they reach adulthood, many are opting in to the research in their own right and are giving consent for us to access information from their official records.

All these methods provide a huge source of information on things that influence people’s health and well-being across the course of their lives. So far we have a million biological samples (such as blood, urine, hair, teeth) and answers to 400 million questions — a billion items of information altogether! We store this information anonymously for researchers to use as far into the future as possible, which may be tens or even hundreds of years. This will give researchers the best opportunity to make new discoveries. We do not do commercial research: all our research aims to benefit society and is not for profit.

The science behind Children of the 90s is epidemiology, which looks at patterns of health and illness and what causes them. Our role is to observe, not to influence, so we give very little feedback to individual participants. By finding out what increases the risks of certain diseases, we can help people to reduce those risks in the future.

Many important discoveries about health have come from the research. These are coming ever more quickly as we collect more information. Children of the 90s has helped scientists investigate topics including:

Medical problemsPsychological problemsLifestyle choicesEducation

The science of genetics is developing at an amazing rate, and the Children of the 90s project is at the cutting edge of this revolution. We not only have the DNA for thousands of young people and their parents, we also know a huge amount about their lives, from what they eat to what they think. So our scientists are in an excellent position to study how lifestyle and genes work together. In this way, we hope to pinpoint ways in which people can avoid health problems.

Read on for more about our current research and how you can take partthe history of the project and Children of the 90s privacy notice (PDF, 309kB).