About our research

The Wirral Child Health and Development Study started in 2006. The study was established to identify early social, emotional and biological risks and processes involved in the development of childhood conduct problems.

We recruited first time pregnant women aged 18 years and above at their 20 week scan appointment, in the antenatal clinic at Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral, Merseyside, between March 2007 and December 2008. Just under 70% of eligible families kindly agreed to take part in the study at that time and we have continued to follow their progress over time. We are currently funded to follow the children up to 13 years old.

The study is run jointly by Professor Jonathan Hill from the University of Reading and Dr Helen Sharp from the University of Liverpool, with developmental and statistical expertise from Professor Andrew Pickles at King’s College, London. The study was set up with the support of Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and continues now to be supported by Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. We have a large team of research staff who work closely together to complete a range of assessments with family members at different points during development, and more recently support families completing questionnaires remotely from home.

The study was funded by the Medical Research Council for fourteen waves of data collection up to 2018. The age 12 data collection was funded by the CWP NHS Foundation Trust and the NIHR HPRU in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections, the Centre of Excellence in Infectious Diseases Research (CEIDR) and Alder Hey Charity with support of Liverpool Health Partners and the Liverpool-Malawi-Covid-19 Consortium. The age 13 data collection is funded by the University of Reading and a British Academy Small Research Grant awarded to Nicky Wright, a postdoctoral researcher on the study who now has a position at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Thank you!

We are of course very grateful to all the families taking part in the study who have given their time and energy to help us meet the study aims. We hope that the study design, quality and frequency of assessments will enormously improve our understanding of the developmental pathways to behaviour problems and will improve the chances of developing effective therapies or treatments to help families in future.

If you wish to contact the First Steps Research team you can reach us first.steps@liverpool.ac.uk or telephone on 0151 795 1114.

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