The Southampton Women’s Survey (SWS) is the only birth cohort study in Europe in which the mothers were recruited before conception of the child. It is run by the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton. Between 1998 and 2002, 12,583 women were recruited from Southampton and surrounding areas. Subsequently, 3158 of these women were followed through pregnancy and delivered a liveborn child. These children form the child cohort in the SWS.
The aim is to assess the influence of maternal dietary, lifestyle, intrauterine, genetic and epigenetic factors on the children’s health and development, and on the health of the mothers themselves.
Between 1998 and 2002 the Survey team interviewed 12,583 Southampton women aged 20 to 34 years. Those who became pregnant after interview were invited to take part in the pregnancy phase of the survey.
Women received ultrasound scans at 11, 19 and 34 weeks of pregnancy, and their babies were measured soon after birth. There were 3,158 babies born to women in the study between 1998 and 2007. The survey has also followed up these children with home visits at six months, one year, two and three years.
A sample of over 1,000 children was seen at 4 years of age, more than 2,000 children have been seen so far at ages 6-7 years, and more than 1,000 at 8-9 years. Most recently, the children are being followed up at 11-13 years.
All General Practitioners in Southampton, apart from two who would/could not take part, contacted the women by letter. This was followed-up by a phone call asking the women to take part. 75% of those contacted were recruited to the study. Additional recruitment took place as local events and supermarkets.
Obstetric data obtained.
Management and funding
The SWS is funded by the Medical Research Council, the University of Southampton and other sources including the Dunhill Medical Trust, the British Heart Foundation, Arthritis Research UK, the Food Standards Agency, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre Southampton, and the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013), project EarlyNutrition (grant 289346).
Accessing the data
The Southampton Women’s Survey has governance and access arrangements that comply with MRC data sharing policy. The data are accessible to bona fide researchers by contacting Professor Cyrus Cooper, Director of the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton, who can forward a collaborators’ agreement.
Hazel M Inskip, and the SWS Study Group, Keith M Godfrey, and the SWS Study Group, Siân M Robinson, and the SWS Study Group, Catherine M Law, and the SWS Study Group, David JP Barker, and the SWS Study Group, Cyrus Cooper, and the SWS Study Group; Cohort profile: The Southampton Women’s Survey. Int J Epidemiol 2006; 35 (1): 42-48. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyi202