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Port Pirie Birth to Now Study

The Birth to Now Study, formally known as 'The Impact on Childhood Lead Exposure on Adult Health and Wellbeing' is a long-term follow up of adults from Port Pirie and is being conducted by the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies at The University of Adelaide.

The original study, known as "The Port Pirie Cohort Study" commenced in 1979-1983. The original aim of this study was to examine the effects of lead exposure both in utero and during childhood on later behaviour and development.

Follow up assessments were performed at regular time intervals from birth to the age of 11 or 13 where parents and/or teachers completed a range of questionnaires about the child.

The Birth to Now Participants in Adulthood

Where Are They Now?

In 2008 we completed the first adult assessment of the Birth to Now participants approximately 28 years since they were first studied at birth, and 15 years since they were last followed-up in early adolescence. This was also the first assessment where the participants themselves chose to take part, rather than their parents. In total 402 people participated - this represented over half of the original birth cohort. These participants were, on average 27 years old, with ages ranging from 25 to 29 years. Slightly more females (56%) than males took part. While some participants were still living in and around Port Pirie, others had since moved into Adelaide, interstate, and even overseas, including New Zealand, the UK, and America.

From the questionnaires and interviews that participants completed, we now have a wealth of information on these adults' lives, regarding their health and wellbeing, personality, emotions and behaviour, and their life experiences. We are now in the process of analysing and writing up this information.

Results of the study will provide important information regarding how participants' early life experiences have shaped their lives as adults.

Being born and growing up in the town of Port Pirie has no doubt made participants aware of the potential harmful effects of lead and other neurotoxins that pollute our environment. We feel however, that lead may only be a small component of the story. Although effects of lead do need to be monitored, our Centre is dedicated to determining what other factors in our lives impact powerfully on who we are, where we are going and what we achieve in our lives. The fact that we have study participants who have both been screened for lead exposure as well as assessed on a range of other childhood behaviour and cognitive measures, makes the completion of this story all the more possible. This is the first study ever to have such a diverse range of data available from birth to now.

Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies

Level 1
Helen Mayo North
30 Frome Road
The University of Adelaide


T: +61 8 8313 5200
F: +61 8 8313 5368

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