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Children of the 90s study to help learn more about long COVID

Press release issued: 23 May 2022

Participants from Children of the 90s are part of a nationwide study seeking to better understand the condition known as long COVID.

The new multi-university study known as CONVALESCENCE, is based at University College London and is the first of its kind to investigate long COVID using participants from longitudinal studies including Children of the 90s.

Around 1.8 million people in the UK are suffering from long COVID (ONS), yet little is currently known about the illness and the variety of symptoms it presents. By bringing together cohort studies’ detailed pre-pandemic health data with national anonymised, linked GP electronic health records, this NIHR/UKRI funded study aims to understand the nature of long COVID. Findings will contribute directly to NICE guidelines and government policy – so that clinicians can better understand and treat the condition.

During the next year, 800 participants from four longitudinal population studies (Children of the 90s, Twins UK, Born in Bradford and Generation Scotland) will visit the UCL clinic. Participants will undergo various respiratory, cardiovascular and fitness tests along with MRI scans, enabling researchers to look for signs of potential damage to their brain, lungs and heart.

By wearing a smartwatch linked to a mobile app, they will report on symptoms such as fatigue, physical fitness, brain fog and poor mental health for the following year. They will also complete online questionnaires on mental health and cognitive function.

Children of the 90s participant, Michael, said: “After getting COVID, I realised the symptoms were dragging on and, in some cases, things were getting worse. The lung tightness never went away. The fatigue was more of a problem than I first thought, and I realised that I wasn’t recovering from the virus – this was three months on, then six months and then 12. One minute you’re feeling fine, and the next you don’t have any energy and struggle to go about the daily chores.”

The Children of the 90s health study began by recruiting more than 14,000 pregnant women from the southwest of England whose due dates were between April 1991 and December 1992. It has followed the lives of those original parents, their babies (now 30-year-olds) and their grandchildren ever since. Participants can return to the study at any time by texting 07772 909090 with their full name and date of birth.

Professor Nic Timpson, Principal Investigator of Children of the 90s, based at the University of Bristol, said:

“Longitudinal studies, like Children of the 90s are a huge scientific resource here in the UK. Their unique collection of decades of health data can help us to understand a new illness and contribute to improved healthcare and clinical interventions.

“The findings from this study will contribute to NICE guidelines and government policy – which means medical professionals can better understand the condition and how to treat it.

“By linking information that has been gathered over time from longitudinal clinics, with electronic health records from GPs and hospitals, we can capture what is going on in the community and, ultimately, help scientists to answer important questions.”

The study, which is funded by a £9.4m grant, is part of a series of research projects that have overall been awarded £18.5m by the National Institute for Health and Care Research and UK Research and Innovation. For more information see

Members of the public can also take part in this study by contributing to a discussion about ‘what Long Covid means to you?’. This is set up by the CONVALESCENCE project team and is facilitated by People in Health in the West of England. The aim of the forum is to enable those with experience of Long COVID to be involved in developing its definition.

Further information

About Children of the 90s
Based at the University of Bristol, Children of the 90s, also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), is a long-term health research project that enrolled more than 14,000 pregnant women in 1991 and 1992.  It has been following the health and development of the parents, their children and now their grandchildren in detail ever since.  It receives core funding from the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the University of Bristol.

Find out more at

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