Open Access Study protocol

All Our Babies Cohort Study: recruitment of a cohort to predict women at risk of preterm birth through the examination of gene expression profiles and the environment

Sara K Gracie1, Andrew W Lyon23, Heather L Kehler4, Craig E Pennell5, Siobhan M Dolan6, Deborah A McNeil4, Jodi E Siever4, Sheila W McDonald7, Alan D Bocking8, Stephen J Lye9, Kathy M Hegadoren10, David M Olson11 and Suzanne C Tough127*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

2 Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

3 Division of Clinical Pathology, Calgary Laboratory Services, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

4 Public Health, Innovation and Decision Support, Alberta Health Services, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

5 School of Women's and Infants' Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

6 Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women's Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center, New York, New York, USA

7 Department of Paediatrics, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

8 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

9 Samuel Lunefeld Research Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario Canada

10 Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

11 Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, and Physiology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

12 Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary Alberta Canada

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2010, 10:87  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-87

Published: 30 December 2010



Preterm birth is the leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality. Risk factors for preterm birth include a personal or familial history of preterm delivery, ethnicity and low socioeconomic status yet the ability to predict preterm delivery before the onset of preterm labour evades clinical practice. Evidence suggests that genetics may play a role in the multi-factorial pathophysiology of preterm birth. The All Our Babies Study is an on-going community based longitudinal cohort study that was designed to establish a cohort of women to investigate how a women's genetics and environment contribute to the pathophysiology of preterm birth. Specifically this study will examine the predictive potential of maternal leukocytes for predicting preterm birth in non-labouring women through the examination of gene expression profiles and gene-environment interactions.


Collaborations have been established between clinical lab services, the provincial health service provider and researchers to create an interdisciplinary study design for the All Our Babies Study. A birth cohort of 2000 women has been established to address this research question. Women provide informed consent for blood sample collection, linkage to medical records and complete questionnaires related to prenatal health, service utilization, social support, emotional and physical health, demographics, and breast and infant feeding. Maternal blood samples are collected in PAXgene™ RNA tubes between 18-22 and 28-32 weeks gestation for transcriptomic analyses.


The All Our Babies Study is an example of how investment in clinical-academic-community partnerships can improve research efficiency and accelerate the recruitment and data collection phases of a study. Establishing these partnerships during the study design phase and maintaining these relationships through the duration of the study provides the unique opportunity to investigate the multi-causal factors of preterm birth. The overall All Our Babies Study results can potentially lead to healthier pregnancies, mothers, infants and children.