Best Start

The Best Start topic aims to improve the mental and physical health of women during pregnancy, the health of babies and children during their early years and reduce adverse childhood experiences.

Best Start projects include:

Better Start Bradford Innovation Hub

A partnership between Better Start Bradford and Born in Bradford, the Innovation Hub unites leading academics to provide a centre for evaluation of the Better Start Bradford projects. It also hosts the world’s first experimental birth cohort - Born in Bradford's Better Start (BiBBS).

Established in 2016, BiBBS recruits pregnant mums and their new babies living in the Better Start Bradford area and aims to enrol 5000 families in total. BiBBS families share data with us so we can understand the impact of the Better Start Bradford programme and support planning of better services for families in the region.

For more information visit:

If you have any questions about this project please reach out to:

Sara Ahern, project lead -

ASSEMBLE: Co-producing modular system for parenting programmes

The evidence base on effective parenting support is advanced. A number of parent training programmes have been developed and empirically validated in randomized control trials and meta-analyses. However, these programmes have failed to scale-up in real world services; practitioners face challenges in implementing them and families experience challenges in accessing them.

ASSEMBLE is a multiphase programme of research and development aiming to improve access for those who most need it by removing the barriers to delivering and receiving evidence-based parenting support.

We are currently seeking further funding and project partners to work with us on this study.

If you have any questions about this project please reach out to:

Sarah Blower, project lead -

Me and My Baby (MAM-B): A study of the measurement properties and acceptability of the MAM-B Tool

Health visitors and clinical psychologists from Bradford, Doncaster and North Lincolnshire worked collaboratively to create and design the Me and My Baby (MAM-B) Questionnaire. The MAM-B tool aids health visitors to have structured conversations with families about the process of bonding with their baby and supports the identification of families who may need extra support. MAM-B has been developed to be more easily and quickly applied than other tools. The MAM-B project is evaluating the use of the tool alongside patients, health visitors and clinical psychologists. The result from the evaluation will clarify whether further development is needed.

If you have any questions about this project please reach out to:

Sarah Blower, project lead -

PhD: Exploring the role and impact of volunteers in early years interventions

The project will explore the different roles and benefits of including volunteers across interventions designed to support parents of infants in their early years. The research will involve conducting a scoping review to identify and map the characteristics of volunteers and the different roles they take on. This will be followed by a qualitative evidence synthesis that will explore the perceived benefits and limitations of including volunteer roles across different early years interventions and a qualitative study involving interviews exploring experiences of volunteers and service managers to identify considerations to support the successful implementation of volunteer roles.

If you have any questions about this project please reach out to:

Louise Padgett -

PhD: Evaluating gestational weight gain management in women with obesity

The project evaluates the impact of a midwife-led maternal healthy lifestyle service on pregnancy outcomes and childhood obesity. Historical data from a healthy lifestyle clinic for pregnant women with a raised BMI, have been compared to an NHS Trust where such a service was not available to determine the impact of the service on antenatal, intrapartum and early postpartum outcomes. The impact of the service on childhood weight at school entry is also being determined. The views of women with a BMI≥40kg/m² about the weight management provision they received during pregnancy have also been explored.

If you have any questions about this project please reach out to:

Frankie Fair -

For more information about the topic reach out to:

Sarah Blower, topic lead -