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Bristol's Children of the 90s backed to continue its 'study of life'

Children of the 90s clinic

Press release issued: 18 October 2019

Bristol's Children of the 90s study will be supported for the next five years through an established collaboration between the University of Bristol, the Medical Research Council and The Wellcome Trust.

A new commitment of up to £8.2 million jointly from the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust with support from the University of Bristol will enable international research to continue into health, well-being and social science using data and samples from thousands of families.

Set up in 1991, Children of the 90s recruited 14,500 pregnant women from the Bristol area and has been charting their health, plus that of their children ever since. Almost thirty years later, the study is now recognised as the premier multi-generational birth cohort internationally with an outstanding reputation for enabling research.

The study’s future plans include using face-to-face data and sample collection along with a growing collection of remote data collection technologies. This will ensure that as many participants as possible can take part and help the study thrive and that over the next five years Children of the 90s will continue to lead the way in safe data storage and access for exciting new science.

Children of the 90s Principal Investigator Professor Nic Timpson said:

"I am delighted that Bristol’s Children of the 90s study will continue to operate as a world leading platform for health research thanks to this funding.

"Children of the 90s is now the largest and most detailed resource of its kind in the world for the study of the environmental, biological and genetic factors that affect our health, well-being and development.

"The next five years are incredibly important for the Children of the 90s study. We are very excited to collect new data and samples from our amazing participants who form the heart of the study. It is a key time in the lives of those involved and 30 years of Children of the 90s will mark a whole series of life events that are often understudied. We can’t wait to get on with the important work of maintaining, optimising and extending the study. 

"We are of course indebted to our study participants and the city as a whole. With this exciting funding news, Bristol really does cement its place as a city of science."

Lifelong participant Richard, aged 26, added:

"The Children of the 90s study collects a huge amount of data and opens itself up to a potentially infinite range of ongoing, developing, evolving questions. Like the children and adults it studies, the project is always developing. I am always delighted to be contributing to the important research being done into child development."

There are also plans to increase data collection from under-represented groups in health research such as fathers, continue recruiting the new generation (children of the Children of the 90s) and to find ways to make it easier for participants to stay involved with more flexible clinics, remote data collection and by making better use of existing official records.

Neha Issar-Brown, Head of Population and Systems Medicine, UK Research and Innovation Medical Research Council (MRC) commented: "The MRC is pleased to continue its support for this unique, multi-generation study, which has been widely used by the research community, both nationally and internationally. Children of the 90s is an important part of the MRC portfolio of UK population cohorts that enable interrogation of a broad range of important health related questions. Together, with our partners at Wellcome, we hope this renewal provides the opportunity to strengthen and focus the study’s efforts in addressing the most pertinent scientific questions over the next quinquennium."

Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of the MRC, said: "Many congratulations to the team at Children of the 90s on their successful funding renewal. MRC is excited to see the next set of outcomes from this long term investment."

Mary De Silva, Head of Population Health, Wellcome Trust commented: "Wellcome is delighted to continue to provide support to Children of the 90s in partnership with the Medical Research Council. Children of the 90s is a world leading resource with a stellar team that has led the development of life course methodology widely shared with all the research community. We look forward to the new scientific developments the next five years will bring."

Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “Proud that Wellcome, in partnership with MRC and the University of Bristol continues to support the Children of the 90s, an internationally leading multi-generational birth cohort. I look forward to the great science this stellar team will deliver and the health impact on people’s lives everywhere.”


Further information

The Children of the 90s study is also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)

Biobank of the Year 2018 

The study’s biobank, which is managed by the Bioresource Laboratory at the University of Bristol, was named Biobank of the Year in November 2018.  It has collected more than two million samples which include DNA, blood, urine, saliva, placentas, hair, nails and milk teeth which are made available to researchers for health and social science study.

Are you an original study child of the 90s?

The study is still recruiting - If you were born (or were expected to be born) in Bristol or Weston-Super-Mare between April 1991 and December 1992 you should be able to take part. It doesn’t matter if you’ve not been involved or have moved away from the area.

The study is now recruiting the next generation of Children of the 90s. So if you think you are a Child of the 90s, or the partner of a Child of the 90s, and you have or are about to have your own children (including step children) then as a family you will be able to take part. Visit telephone 0117 331 0010 or email

Facts and figures about Children of the 90s:

Study participants:

There are around 27,600 participants currently in the study. This breaks down as approximately:

11,900 original Study mothers and 3,400 Study fathers

11,300 Study children or Children of the 90s (aged 26-28 years) 

1,000 Children of the Children of the 90s (aged 0-11 years) from over 600 families

76 per cent of the original study children list a Bristol address as their main point of contact, evidence of the strong Bristol ties that the study still maintains.

Our data and samples:

The biosamples and questionnaire data we have collected for more than 25 years now include:

  • 1.2 million biological samples (including blood, urine, placenta, teeth, hair and nails)
  • DNA samples (11,000 children, 11,500 mothers, 3,300 partners). Genetic data such as this can be used to help identify individuals who are at greater risk of disease, with the aim of matching treatments and intervening to improve health outcomes for those at risk.
  • 1,000+ brain scans
  • 40,000+ DXA scans taken at seven different ages – these are whole body scans which can be used as a measure of bone health and to break down body composition in terms of fat, bone and lean mass or muscle.
  • 3,000+ heart echo scans
  • 2,000 retinal scans i.e. images of the back of the eye
  • 4,000 liver scans
  • 7,000+ ear drum pictures
  • More than 74,000 data variables collected from three generations of study participants (includes questionnaires, blood measures and clinic information)

Our health and social science research:

More than 2,000 papers have been published using Children of the 90s data. 

In 2018, 161 papers were published using our data, half of these were from international collaborations.

Most research papers published in the past five years cover public health, biological science and clinical medicine.  18 per cent cover psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience and 15 per cent cover education and social science.

The study receives an average of 18 new data access requests per month from researchers looking to base studies on our data.  

In the past five years, more than £33m in grant income has been awarded to research institutions (in the UK and abroad) thanks to Children of the 90s related studies. 

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