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What happens during pregnancy and the first few years of life influences our health and wellbeing throughout our lives.  

Children growing up in poverty and low-income households experience many disadvantages that can have negative health consequences through childhood and into adulthood. New approaches to research are needed to understand the complex ways these influence child health and to improve the health and opportunities of children living in poverty. 

On Tuesday 19 October we heard fresh insights – and their implications for policy – from two important new initiatives. Speakers from the ActEarly research consortium and the Maternal and Child Health Network (MatCHNet) who discussed this important topic and shared their learning so far from their research. 


  • Jo Bibby (Chair), Director of Health, the Health Foundation 
  • Prof John Wright, Director of Research, Bradford Institute for Health Research 
  • Professor Ruth Dundas, MatCHNet, Professor of Social Epidemiology, MRC/CSO Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow

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ActEarly is multi-disciplinary research consortium focussing on early life changes to improve the health and opportunities for children living in areas with high levels of child poverty. The researchers are working with local communities, local authorities and other national organisations to understand how to help families live healthier and more active lives.  

MatCHNet is a network of researchers, policy makers and service providers exploring the harnessing of administrative data across the UK to evaluate the impacts of national policies on maternal, infant and child health and health inequalities. 

ActEarly and MatCHNet are funded by the UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP).  

The UKPRP is a £50 million multi-funder initiative that supports novel, multidisciplinary research into the primary prevention of non-communicable diseases, to improve population health and reduce health inequalities. The UKPRP made its first round of awards in 2019, including to ActEarly and MatCHNet. A further round of awards has recently been announced.  

This webinar was the first in a series of four over the autumn in which emerging learning from the UKPRP funded projects will be shared.

Further reading


UK Prevention Research Partnership


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