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).


Study name Barwon Infant Study
Study abbreviation BIS
Current principal investigator/s Peter Vuillermin (BH/MCRI/ DU); Prof Anne-Louise Ponsonby (MCRI)
Current project manager Nakita Clements
Cohort representative (study contact) Prof Peter Vuillermin
Postal address Barwon Infant Study, C/o Child Health Research Unit, Barwon Health, PO Box 281,Geelong VIC 3220
Phone +61 400432976
Primary Institution Barwon Health
Collaborating Institution/s Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, 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 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 outside study team? YES – requires BIS Steering Committee approval
Study focus
  • 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 Barwon region of Victoria (<33 weeks gestation at the time of enrolment).
Year commenced 2010
Commencement sample Recruitment commenced June 2010 to June 2013. A total of 1158 mothers were enrolled, with 1074 eligible infants making up the inception birth cohort.
Annual attrition rate 83.2% of the inception cohort completed their 1-year review
Intergenerational? No
Imaging 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 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


  • Blood (28 weeks gestation, 7-9 years)
  • Stool (36 weeks gestation, 7-9 years)
  • Urine (36 weeks gestation, 7-9 years)
  • 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, & 7-9 years)
  • Stool (1, 6 & 12 months, 2yr, Preschool age, 7-9 years)
  • Urine (1 & 12 months, 2yr & Preschool age in addition to small subset at 9 months)
  • Nasal swabs (birth, 1, 6 & 12 months, Preschool age, 7-9 years)
  • Buccal swab (Preschool age, 7-9 years)
  • Whole tooth: (7-9 years)
  • House dust (in small subset at 9 months olds participating in optional ‘Home Visit’ 10/24 S3)


Wave Year Age (mean, range) Eligible sample
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
11 2014-2016 4 years 909
12 2020-ongoing 7-9 years In progress