7. MUSP - For participants

Thank you to all who continue to participate in MUSP!

We have recently finalised interviews with the MUSP children for the 30 year follow-up. The next phase is due to start soon, so please update your details. 

Are you moving or have you moved?      
Please update your details here or ring us on 1800 103 017, especially if you have moved since we last contacted you.

Thank you to all mothers who enrolled in the Mater-University Study of Pregnancy (also called the Child Health Study) while attending clinic visits at the Mater Misercordiae Hospital between 1981 and 1984. We greatly appreciate your continued participation in the study, as well as the cooperation we have received from your children in allowing us to follow their progress since birth.

On this page, you will find a number of sections explaining different aspects of the study. Please read on to find out about the following:

The purpose of research

Research in the health area is of vital importance to the community. Participation in such research by people like you allows researchers to study how physical and social characteristics relate to health. The evidence is then passed onto health and government agencies so that actions or policies can be developed to improve the health of people generally. The assistance that people like you provide to researchers like us, enables this process to happen.

Why your participation is important

This is the only large Australian study to have monitored the health of mothers and their children over many years. For mothers this period spans the time of their pregnancy through to mid-life. For their children, it starts from before birth, through childhood and adolescence and into adulthood.

Your continued support means that we are able to follow changes in health over the life span. It also allows us to examine numerous relationships between what happens at one stage of life and outcomes at later stages. It is very important that we keep as many people as possible in the study, so that we can continue to examine these relationships.

 Who is in the study?

1981-1984 Birth - Initial phase  

8,556 women entered the study at their first clinic visit at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital

Over the 3 years 6703 mothers gave birth to a total of 7,223 live single babies .

59 mothers gave birth to twins, and 1 mother gave birth to triplets. 

64 babies were relinquished by their mothers for adoption. These children are not part of the study.

Mothers' ages ranged between 13 and 46 years old;  the average age was 24 years.

73% of mothers were married, around 12% were in defacto relationships, and 13% were single, divorced/separated, or widowed.

Around 72% of mothers were born in Australia, nearly 10% in the United Kingdom, over 4% in New Zealand, nearly 3% in South East Asia, and another 8.5% in the Mediterranean, Southern Europe, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Pacific Islands, and other parts of the world.

Of all the children born, 52% were boys and 48% were girls.

1986 Child at age 5 years         Details of MUSP-early phases (under construction)

5,360 mother and child pairs remained in the study.

1995 Child at age 14 years      Details of MUSP14 (under construction)

5,270 mother and child pairs remained in the study.

2002 Child at age 21 years      Details of MUSP21 (under construction)

3,691 mothers and 3,778 children remained in the study.

2009 to 2012       Details of MUSP27

3671 mothers were interviewed. We are currently collating the information, a newsletter will be sent out in early 2013.

2011 to present  Child at age 30 years      Details of MUSP30

Contacting all the children who were originally enrolled in the study.

Previous phases of the study

There have been eight main phases in the study. These include:

1. Before the birth - mothers were enrolled in the study and completed questionnaires

2. 3-5 days after the birth - mothers completed questionnaires

3. 6 months after the birth - mothers completed questionnaires about themselves and their children

4. 5 years after the birth - mothers completed questionnaires about themselves and their children. Children were given a brief assessment of their physical development and reading ability.

5. 14 years after the birth - mothers completed questionnaires about themselves and their children. Teenagers completed questionnaires about themselves.

6. 21 years after the birth - mothers and children completed separate questionnaires about themselves only. Both completed a physical assessment.

7. 27 years after the birth - mother completed questionnaires about themselves only and also completed a physical and mental health assessment.

8. 30 years after the birth - MUSP cohort children, now young adults, completed questionnaires about themselves, undertook blood tests, and a physical and mental health assessment.

Some findings from the study...

Availability of Patient Information

We found that in the 1980s, obstetricians did not realise how much information mothers wanted from them. As a result of our study, Brisbane hospitals made sure that mothers were given more information during consultations.

Low Income

Mothers with low family income from the time before birth up to the child's fifth birthday use health services more and have children with more colds, asthma attacks, ear infections, vomiting, bronchitis, accidental injuries and poorer teeth.

Marital Conflict and Partner Changes

Many people worry about the possible effects of separation, divorce, and single parenthood on children. In our study, we found that children whose parents argue a lot are more likely to have behaviour problems than children of single, divorced, or separated mothers. Children of single mothers were found to do as well as children whose mothers were married.

Depression in Mothers

Most mothers seem to experience "baby blues" after the birth of their baby, but these periods do not continue for a long time and are not the same as a major depression. Many of the mothers who find themselves depressed when their child is 5 years, have been depressed at other times in their lives.


Mothers who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have babies with low birthweight than mothers who don't smoke.

International Collaboration (M20)

The year after the 14-year follow-up, Professor Connie Hammen from the University of California, Los Angeles, and Professor Patricia Brennan from Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, began a collaborative research relationship with the MUSP Principal Investigators. Professors Hammen and Brennan began an additional study of just 816 of the MUSP families (known as M20) so that they could conduct in-depth interviews with mothers, fathers, and children during 2001 through to 2003.

Frequently asked questions

Was I (mother or child) chosen for this study because I'm different to other people?

This study is what is known as a "population study". It has not targeted any special group of people. The "children" of this study are those born to women who enrolled in the study when they attended their first antenatal clinic visit at the Mater Hospital. ALL mothers-to-be attending these clinics between 1981 and 1984 were invited to participate.

Are my answers kept confidential?

All information provided to the project is stored under code numbers. No names are attached to any of the information collected from participants. Keeping confidentiality is the project's highest priority. We are not interested in any individual's answers. Our job is to look for patterns in health among a very large group of people by finding the percentages of people experiencing particular conditions or circumstances.

Why is it important that I stay with the study?

You are part of a study that has tracked the health and well-being of mothers and their children over a 30-year period. Few studies in the world have collected health, growth, and development information on a large population of children, together with health and social information on their mothers at the same point in time, over such a long period. The assistance given by participants at various phases means that the project is able to examine factors occurring at one stage that might influence later health outcomes. To do this, we need your help at each follow-up so we can continue to check for patterns in health among the large group of people that makes up the MUSP study.

Contact Details:

Professor Jake Najman (Principal Investigator - MUSP)

E-mail: j.najman@uq.edu.au
Telephone: (07) 3365 5180

Shelby Marrington (Project Manager)

E-mail: s.marrington@uq.edu.au
Telephone (07) 3346 1984
Mobile 0408 376 297