The Mothers’ and Young People’s Study (formerly known as Maternal Health Study) is a multi-wave, prospective cohort study investigating the health and well-being of over 1500 first-time mothers and their firstborn children. Women were recruited to the study from six Melbourne metropolitan hospitals between 2003-2005. In the early years of the study, the main focus was on women’s health and recovery after childbirth. Women taking part in the study completed questionnaires and telephone interviews in early and late pregnancy, and at three, six, nine, 12 and 18 months postpartum, and when their first child was four years of age. Over 800 women in the study have also been followed up after second and subsequent births. Over time our focus has expanded to include investigation of children and young people’s health and wellbeing, and the extent to which mothers and children’s health are inextricably linked.

Data have been collected on common maternal physical and psychological health problems, including incontinence, sexual health problems, depression, anxiety and intimate partner abuse, and on a range of child health and developmental outcomes. We have also collected information regarding the social context of women and children, and changing life circumstances as the children grow up.

In 2022, we commenced the follow-up of mothers and young people as the study children turn 18 years old.

The study aims to improve understanding of social and obstetric factors influencing maternal and child health. The information collected is being used to inform policy and practice in maternity care, early childhood services and primary health care. 


Study name Mothers’ and Young People’s Study
Study abbreviation MYPS
Current principal investigator/s Prof Stephanie Brown
Current project manager Dr. Deirdre Gartland
Cohort representative (study contact) Dr Deirdre Gartland or Ms Manisha Dona
Postal address Intergenerational Health Group, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, West Level 5, Royal Children’s Hospital, 50 Flemington Rd, Parkville, VIC, 3052
Phone +613 9936 6642  or +61 416 820 936
Primary Institution Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Collaborating Institution/s

The University of Melbourne – UoM

McMaster University, Canada

Deakin University

Berry Street

Tweddle Child and Family Health Services

Major funding sources National Health and Medical Research Council; VicHealth Public Health Research Fellowship; Medical Research and Technology in Victoria Fund; William Buckland Foundation; La Trobe University
Study website 
Key references

Brown, S. J., Lumley, J. M., McDonald, E. A. and Krastev, A. H. (2006). Maternal health study: a prospective cohort study of nulliparous women recruited in early pregnancy, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 6(12), DOI: 10.1186/1471-2393-6-12 

Brown SJ, Conway LJ, FitzPatrick KM, Hegarty K, Mensah FK, Papadopoullos S, Woolhouse H, Giallo R, Gartland D. (2020). Physical and mental health of women exposed to intimate partner violence in the 10 years after having their first child: an Australian prospective cohort study of first-time mothers BMJ Open, 10(12), e040891. DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-040891 

FitzPatrick KM, Brown S, Hegarty K, Mensah F, Gartland D. (2022). Visualising Patterns in Women’s Experiences of Intimate Partner Violence in the First 10 years of Motherhood Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 38(3-4), 3055 – 3087. DOI: 10.1177/08862605221104518

Are data available outside study team? No
Study focus Women’s physical and psychological health and recovery after childbirth and investigation of children and young people’s health and wellbeing
Sampling frame Prospective pregnancy cohort of >1500 nulliparous women recruited in early pregnancy at six metropolitan public hospitals in Melbourne Australia (April 2003 – December 2005)
Year commenced 2003
Commencement sample 1507
Retention rate

W2 – 98.0%
W3 – 95.0%
W4 – 92.9%
W5 – 92.0%
W6 – 90.0%
W7 – 88.1%
W11 – 83.4% 
W15 – 63.1%
W15b – 75.8%

Intergenerational? Yes
Linkage Not previously. In the current follow up consent for linkage to MBS, PBS and Victorian Health Administrative datasets will be obtained. 
Biosamples? No 
Ethics approvals or requirements? This project only (Specific consent)


Wave Year Age (mean, range) Eligible sample
1  2003-2005 Baseline (10-20 weeks gestation) 1507
2  2003-2005 30-32 weeks gestation (index child) 1454
3  2003-2006 3 months postpartum (index child) 1431
4  2004-2007 6 months postpartum (index child) 1400
5  2004-2007 9 months postpartum (index child) 1387
6  2004-2006 12 months postpartum (index child) 1357
7  2005-2008 18 months postpartum (index child) 1327
8/11/13  2005 6 months postpartum (2nd/3rd/4th) 840 (second child) 214 (third child) 29 (fourth child)
9/12/14 2006 12 months postpartum (2nd/3rd/4th) 840 (second child) 222 (third child) 32 (fourth child)
10 2008-2011 4 years postpartum (index child)



15 2013 10 years postpartum 952 mother (questionnaire completed)
15a 2013 10 years postpartum (index child) 615 mother-child pairs (site assessment)
15b 2020 14 years postpartum 1143 mother; 1142 young people
16 2022 – 2024 18 years postpartum TBC