The Leicestershire school study

What's new in Leicestershire school study?

Many of you have been involved over the past 3 years in helping us with some breathing tests and other measurements. We want to find out more about similarities (and differences) between people who have particular patterns of coughing and wheezing, at different stages of life, and – ultimately – how these fit in with the genes that they have. As with all our investigations, we need to include children and young people who have never suffered with breathing difficulties, as well as those who have had coughing, wheezing or asthma, either now or at an earlier stage in life.

This particular project involved lots of tests and measurements, as well as questionnaires, and we thought it would be easiest for participants if we came to their schools, rather than expecting families to come to the laboratory at Leicester Royal Infirmary. We needed to get the permission and support of Education Authorities and the school head teachers, but generally this went fine, once we had explained the importance of the work for the health of young people in our counties. We visited 55 out of a possible total of 67 schools, which was a really excellent result. Where we did not attend a school we sometimes saw participants at other venues or in their own homes. We saw 979 young people in total, which was a fantastic result! Most of the school visits were carried out by Teresa and Ketna, with Sian or Jenny helping out when needed.

The schools were very helpful in the way that they provided space for us to work in, and allowed participants to come during lesson time. Schools are such busy places and we felt it was a real privilege to be able to spend time there.

The young people were enthusiastic about helping us, and we hope those who came along enjoyed themselves and also learned something, even if it was what it’s like having your blood pressure measured!

All the measurements have been completed and the information has been carefully and confidentially entered into our computer database. Although the analysis is all done by computer, it still takes considerable time to prepare and perform it, so we don’t get instant results! The main work by you the cohort members (and the Leicester team!) is completed. First results will be reported soon.

Why do we perform the study?

We hope that by taking part in the study you and your child will help us to understand how many different types of asthma there are and the role of genes and environmental factors in making children wheeze. Each child will be asked to attend a 45 minute session at their school. An optional second visit to the Children’s Investigation Centre at the Leicester Royal Infirmary will then be offered for a latter date.

Who are the participants?

You have been chosen because you took part in the 1998 and subsequent postal questionnaires looking into wheezing and other health issues in children in Leicestershire. We aim to study 2,200 children over a two and a half year period. Taking part in the research is entirely voluntary. It is up to you and your child whether or not to take part.

Following my time with the research team

Have a look for yourself! One of the children who has come to the lab allowed us to take pictures of the measurements he did, and explains what it all means in a short story. We are very grateful for his help!


©  ISPM - University of Bern 2009