More than 400 women have now been recruited to the Born in Bradford's Better Start (BiBBS) study cohort, which opened its doors to recruitment earlier this year. The first babies in the study have begun to appear!

The local evaluation is making good progress on recruitment and researchers plan to follow a total of 5,000 women alongside their partners and babies over the course of the A Better Start programme.

An academic paper detailing the 'protocol' (plan) for the study was published in August, highlighting the experimental nature of the evaluation’s design. Study authors describe the way in which BiBBS intends to use a single cohort of local families in order to simultaneously evaluate 22 early life interventions, which are being programmed by Better Start Bradford. The researchers will use efficient study designs in order to do this.

Led by Bradford Trident, Better Start Bradford (BSB) has been allocated £49 million from the Big Lottery Fund to test and learn from the effectiveness of the interventions, which have been selected because they are based on the best evidence currently available. These schemes will be implemented in three deprived and ethnically diverse inner city areas of Bradford.

Activities include healthy eating, parenting skills and English languages courses, as well as support for breastfeeding mothers, women with poor attachment, vulnerable pregnant women and pregnant teenagers, plus play and book schemes to support the physical and cognitive development of children in their first four years of life.

But it’s not only the BiBBS study that researchers are recruiting for. True to the spirit of the programme as a whole, A Better Start areas are also working in partnership to collect consents for participants to join part of the national evaluation, called the You and Your Child study. The pilot phase of this study is underway, and will interview pregnant women and keep in touch with them until their baby is four months old. This small study allows the evaluation team to test their strategy before beginning a large-scale ‘cohort’ study in 2017.

The You and Your Child survey team can be contacted at youandyourchild@ipsos.com or 0808 141 3070. Research teams at the University of Warwick are leading the evaluation and have partnered with Ipsos MORI, who are carrying out interviews and surveys for the You and Your Child study. Other organisations such as the Universities of Oxford, Glasgow, Durham, Imperial and Kings Colleges London, Bryson Purdon Social Research and Ecorys UK are also on the evaluation team, and together they make up the Warwick Consortium.

A Better Start is a £215 million investment by the Big Lottery Fund, launched in October 2012 to improve the life chances of some of the most vulnerable babies and children in England.

You can read more about the progress of Better Start Bradford in the 'Better Start Bradford Story’ here.