Background The Environments for Healthy Living (EFHL) study is a repeated sample, longitudil birth cohort in South East Queensland, Australia. We describe the sample characteristics and profile of materl, household, and antetal exposures. Variation and data stability over recruitment years were examined. Methods Four months each year from 2006, pregnt women were recruited to EFHL at routine antetal visits on or after 24 weeks gestation, from three public maternity hospitals. Participating mothers completed a baseline questionire on individual, familial, social and community exposure factors. Perital data were extracted from hospital birth records. Descriptive statistics and measures of association were calculated comparing the EFHL birth sample with regiol and tiol reference populations. Data stability of antetal exposure factors was assessed across five recruitment years (2006-2010 inclusive) using the Gamma statistic for ordil data and chi-squared for nomil data. Results Across five recruitment years 2,879 pregnt women were recruited which resulted in 2904 live births with 29 sets of twins. EFHL has a lower representation of early gestatiol babies, fewer still births and a lower percentage of low birth weight babies, when compared to regiol data. The majority of women (65%) took a multivitamin supplement during pregncy, 47% consumed alcohol, and 26% reported having smoked cigarettes. There were no differences in rates of a range of antetal exposures across five years of recruitment, with the exception of increasing materl pre-pregncy weight (p=0.0349), decreasing rates of high materl distress (p=0.0191) and decreasing alcohol consumption (p<0.0001). Conclusions 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 longitudil follow-up and within cohort temporal effects.
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