First Steps Logo, baby surrounded by building blocks spelling out "First Steps"

Wirral Child Health and Development Study: First Steps

About our research

The Wirral Child Health and Development Study started in 2006 and is funded by the Medical Research Council. 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 9 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.

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.

We are in the process of developing an interactive website for the study to show more about the measures we use to study child development, more about the progress of study phases and study news. Please watch this space. If you wish to contact the First Steps Research team you can reach us first.steps@liverpool.ac.uk or telephone on 0151 650 5490.