The Barwon Infant Study (BIS) is a pre-birth population derived cohort with over 1000 pregnant women recruited between 2010 and 2013. This study was designed to follow children born to the recruited mothers and observe them as they grow. BIS is an investigation into the early life origins of a range of non-communicable diseases in the modern environment. BIS is being conducted as a partnership between Barwon Health, Deakin University and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. BIS is primarily funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Year 2010-13 2010-13 2010-13 2010-14 2011-14 2011-14 2011-14 2011-14 2012-14 2012-15 2014-16 2020-21

*During COVID-19

Wave W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8 W9 W10 W11 W12
Age 1st and 2nd trimester 3rd trimester birth/perinatal 4 weeks 3 months 6 months 9 months 12 months 18 months 2 years Preschool
4 years
Primary school
7-9 yrs
Allergies Allergies
Anthropometrics Anthropometrics Anthropometrics Anthropometrics Anthropometrics
Behavioural problems Behavioural problems
Birth Birth Birth
Cardiovascular health Cardiovascular health Cardiovascular health Cardiovascular health
Education and childcare Education and childcare Education and childcare
Environmental exposures (toxins and allergens) Environmental exposures (toxins and allergens)
General health
Home and neighbourhood environments Home and neighbourhood envinronments Home and neighbourhood environments
Imaging Imaging Imaging
Medications and supplements Medications and supplements
Mental health Mental health Mental health Mental health
Neurocognitive development
Nutrition Nutrition Nutrition
Parenting Parenting Parenting
Physical activity and lifestyle Physical activity and lifestyle Physical activity and lifestyle
Physical characteristics Physical characteristics Physical characteristics Physical characteristics Physical characteristics
Relationships Relationships
Reproductive health and pregnancy
Resilience and wellbeing Resilience and wellbeing Resilience and wellbeing
Respiratory health Respiratory health
Sleep Sleep Sleep
Speech, language and literacy
Substance use Substance use Substance use Substance use Substance use
Sun exposure Sun exposure Sun exposure Sun exposure
Temperament and personality Temperament and personality
Biosamples Biosamples Biosamples
Environmental samples
Study Summary
Study name Barwon Infant Study
Study abbreviation BIS
Current principal investigator/s Prof Peter Vuillermin (BH/MCRI/DU)
Prof Anne-Louise Ponsonby (MCRI)
Current project manager Nakita Clements
Primary Institution Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Collaborating Institution/s Barwon Health
Deakin University
Major funding sources National Health and Medical Research Council
The Shane O’Brien Memorial Asthma Foundation
Our Women’s Our Children’s fundraising committee
The Cotton On Foundation
The Jack Brockhoff Foundation
The Scobie and Claire McKinnon Trust
The Sheppard Foundation
Ilhan Foundation
Study website
Key reference for study (published study protocol) Vuillermin, P., Saffery, R., Allen, K., Carlin, J., Tang, M., Ranganathan, S., Burgner, D., Dwyer, T., Collier, F., Jachno, K., Sly, P., Symeonides, C., McCloskey, K., Molloy, J., Forrester, M. and Ponsonby, A-L. (2015). Cohort Profile: The Barwon Infant Study. Int J Epidemiol, 44(4): 1148-60. DOI:10.1093/ije/dyv026
Are data available to others outside study team? YES – requires BIS Steering Committee approval
Study focus (e.g. social development)
  • BIS Immune (early life environment modifies postnatal immune programming and the risk of allergic disease)
  • BIS Respiratory (identify environmental exposures that may impact on foetal lung growth and development
  • BIS Cardiovascular (factors contributing to the development of atherosclerosis from birth onwards)
  • BIS Neurodevelopment (early life exposure to neurotoxicants and adverse childhood developmental outcomes)
  • BIS Food Allergy (investigate the relationship between low vitamin D status and food allergy)
Sampling frame Antenatal recruitment of eligible women from the Barwon region of Victoria (<33 weeks gestation at the time of enrolment)
Study type (e.g. randomised control trial, cohort, case-control) Cohort
Year commenced 2010
Ongoing recruitment? No
Commencement sample (N) Recruitment commenced June 2010 to June 2013. A total of 1158 mothers were enrolled, with 1074 eligible infants making up the inception birth cohort
Intergenerational (e.g. offspring)? No
Imaging (e.g. fMRI, ultrasound, retinal photograph)? 4 weeks of age: ultrasound of child’s aortic intima-media thickness
Preschool age: ultrasound of child’s aortic and carotid intima-media thickness
Linkage (e.g. BioGrid, VPDC, NAPLAN, Medicare)? General consent from parents to extract medical records (and/or other health related information relevant to the study aims) of the mother and child from either Barwon Health or Saint John of God hospitals, nominated private obstetricians (if applicable), nominated GP/family doctors and/or any private health care practices
Biosamples (e.g. buccal, blood, hair)? Mother:

  • Blood (28 weeks gestation)
  • Stool (36 weeks gestation)
  • Urine (36 weeks gestation)
  • Hair (4 weeks postnatal age)
  • Breast Milk (4 weeks, 6 and 12 months)
  • Oral Saliva Swab (6 months)


  • Cord blood, Cord section & Placental tissue (birth)
  • Meconium (first days)
  • Hair (1 month of age, a small subset at 9 months olds & 2yr)
  • Stool (1, 6 & 12 months, 2yr & Preschool age)
  • Urine (1 & 12 months, 2yr & Preschool age in addition to small subset at 9 months)
  • Nasal swabs (birth, 1, 6 & 12 months, Preschool age)
  • Buccal swab (Preschool age)
  • House dust (in small subset at 9 months olds participating in optional ‘Home Visit’ 10/24 S3)
Ethics approvals or requirements (e.g. specific, extended, unspecified, other)? This project only (Specific consent)

Any future research (Unspecified consent)

Wave Year Age (mean, range) Eligible sample (not deceased, not withdrawn)
1 2010-2013 1st & 2nd Trimester
2 2010-2013 3rd Trimester
3 2010-2013 Birth 1074 infants
4 2010-2014 4 weeks old 984 infants (91.6%)
5 2011-2014 3 months old
6 2011-2014 6 months old 927 infants (86.3%)
7 2011-2014 9 months old
8 2011-2014 12 months old 894 infants (83.2%)
9 2012-2014 18 months
10 2012-2015 2 years 823 participants (76.6%)
11 2014-2016 Preschool (4 years +/- 6 months) 909 participants (84.6%)
12 2019-2022 Primary School Review (7 – 9 years) IN PROGRESS

Cohort representative

Professor Peter Vuillermin

Barwon Infant Study

C/o Child Health Research Unit, Barwon Health
PO Box 281
Geelong VIC 3220

Ph: +61 4 0043 2976