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Environments For Healthy Living (EFHL) Griffith birth cohort study: characteristics of sample and profile of antenatal exposures

Cate M Cameron12, Paul A Scuffham12, Rania Shibl12, ShuKay Ng12, Rani Scott1, Anneliese Spinks23, Gabor Mihala1, Andrew Wilson4, Elizabeth Kendall25, Neil Sipe26 and Roderick J McClure7*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Medicine, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD, 4131, Australia

2 Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD, 4222, Australia

3 Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Ecosystem Sciences, Dutton Park, QLD, 4102, Australia

4 Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, QLD, 4059, Australia

5 School of Human Services and Social Work, Griffith University, Meadowbrook, Queensland, 4131, Australia

6 School of Environment, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD, 4111, Australia

7 Injury Research Institute, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, 3800, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:1080  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-1080

Published: 15 December 2012



The Environments for Healthy Living (EFHL) study is a repeated sample, longitudinal birth cohort in South East Queensland, Australia. We describe the sample characteristics and profile of maternal, household, and antenatal exposures. Variation and data stability over recruitment years were examined.


Four months each year from 2006, pregnant women were recruited to EFHL at routine antenatal visits on or after 24 weeks gestation, from three public maternity hospitals. Participating mothers completed a baseline questionnaire on individual, familial, social and community exposure factors. Perinatal data were extracted from hospital birth records. Descriptive statistics and measures of association were calculated comparing the EFHL birth sample with regional and national reference populations. Data stability of antenatal exposure factors was assessed across five recruitment years (2006–2010 inclusive) using the Gamma statistic for ordinal data and chi-squared for nominal data.


Across five recruitment years 2,879 pregnant women were recruited which resulted in 2904 live births with 29 sets of twins. EFHL has a lower representation of early gestational babies, fewer still births and a lower percentage of low birth weight babies, when compared to regional data. The majority of women (65%) took a multivitamin supplement during pregnancy, 47% consumed alcohol, and 26% reported having smoked cigarettes. There were no differences in rates of a range of antenatal exposures across five years of recruitment, with the exception of increasing maternal pre-pregnancy weight (p=0.0349), decreasing rates of high maternal distress (p=0.0191) and decreasing alcohol consumption (p<0.0001).


The study sample is broadly representative of births in the region and almost all factors showed data stability over time. This study, with repeated sampling of birth cohorts over multiple years, has the potential to make important contributions to population health through evaluating longitudinal follow-up and within cohort temporal effects.

Trial registration

Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000931077

Birth cohort; Longitudinal study; Epidemiology; Demographics; Descriptive analysis