A pioneering children's research project to help identify better health outcomes for the next generation of young people has expanded to Ballarat.
The Murdoch Children's Research Institute's Generation Victoria voluntary project is the largest study of its kind currently under way in the world.
Ballarat Health Services and St John of God Hospital have joined 27 other regional hospitals across the state taking part in the study.
It will track the wellbeing of 150,000 Victorians throughout their lives to map the health of an entire generation of young people.
State government innovation, medical research and digital economy minister Jaala Pulford said the groundbreaking project would help doctors and researchers identify any health issues specific or unique to certain areas.
"This is a resource that will provide benefit to what we think will be the healthiest generation of Victorians for 100 years, for their entire lifetime.Jaala Pulford
"This GenV research and the samples of two years of babies across Victoria will give us extraordinary tools for our researchers whether they are looking at childhood diabetes, rare genetic diseases, asthma or learning or developmental delays.
"As these babies get older, it will continue to be a resource that will be able to be used by our research community as these kids are teenagers and when they are in their 20s, 30s and so on."
Development of the project started in 2017, before the coronavirus pandemic, and will focus on all health issues. But it will be able to measure the physical, economic and policy impacts of COVID-19.
Ballarat's Caitlin Farquhar, who gave birth to Matilda six weeks ago, is taking part in the study.
"Myself and my husband are both healthcare professionals and both have an interest in research and understand the importance of health research," Ms Farquhar said.
"I think it's a great opportunity for all Victorian parents to get involved and to see what we can do to help improve the health system and support we are able to benefit from for our children in the future."
So far, more than 5000 newborns have become involved in the study with one fifth of those born regionally.
Expanding the study to regional areas will drive better health outcomes for children, helping doctors and researchers to identify if there are health issues specific or unique to certain areas.
Ballarat families whose babies are born at BHS Base Hospital or St John of God Hospital this year and next year will be asked if they would like to participate in the project.
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