As a prospective Aboriginal life course study, the main aim is to assess the effect of early life factors, birth and childhood, on later physical and mental health, and to examine which factors influence these across the life course.

This study seeks to identify those who are most at risk of developing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease and mental health problems.

The ABC study was founded by the late Dr Susan Sayers who initially aimed to study outcomes of fetal growth restriction (FGR) within the womb on subsequent growth and development of chronic diseases in adulthood.

The ABC cohort was recruited from the Royal Darwin Hospital between 1987 and 1990 and has been followed up by the research team at two subsequent time periods.

Wave-1 Recruitment (1987-1990 n= 686) 

Between 1987 and 1990, Dr Sayers recruited 686 babies born to mothers who identified as Aboriginal, at the Royal Darwin Hospital. Maternal, perinatal and neonatal data were collected. The cohort represents almost half (55%) of the entire 1238 eligible Aboriginal infants in the NT over this period. 

Wave-2 (1998-2001 n= 572)

This follow-up, led by Dr Sayers and including Dr Gurmeet Singh, occurred when participants had a mean age of 11 years. Data collected included body measurements (weight, height, head, mid upper arm, waist circumference and skinfold), respiratory, renal (size and function), metabolic, cardiovascular, haematological and socioeconomic measures.
An overview of this wave of data collection can be viewed here.

Wave-3; recruitment of TEC (2007-2009 n= 196)

The paucity of health information in teenage and young adulthood, directed us to recruit an age and birth place matched cohort of non-Indigenous people who now form the Top End Cohort (TEC). Between November 2007 and September 2009, 196 non-Indigenous people, who were born in the Darwin region and residing here at the time, were recruited. Participants were born in Darwin between 1987 and 1991. We did not include those born to indigenous mothers, as this was already covered by the ABC.

Wave-4 (2013-2015; ABC= 459, TEC=117)

This follow-up, led by Dr Gurmeet Singh, occurred when participants of the ABC and TEC were 24 years on average. A wide range of health data was collected, including body measurements (weight, height, head, mid upper arm, waist circumference and skinfold), renal (size and function), metabolic, cardiovascular, haematological and socioeconomic measures. Questionnaires were used to assess lifestyle habits including smoking and alcohol use. Specifically designed questionnaires were developed to assess emotional wellbeing and dietary intake. This wave also included sub-studies in to check hepatitis B immunity and iodine status which provided Iodine levels both pre (Wave-3) and post the national mandatory fortification of iodised salt in bread.

An overview of this wave of data collection can be viewed here.