By Joseph Misuraca
A MOUNT Eliza couple are working on a new statewide health initiative to track and improve children’s wellbeing.
Dr Jolyon Ford, 51, and his wife, Jo Ford, 49, are working at Peninsula Health on ‘GenV’.
The program is designed to track Victorian babies born between 2020-2022. Its goal, according to the GenV website, is to achieve “a better approach to child health, development and wellbeing in Victoria”. It’s a voluntary program, and one of the largest of its kind.
The research study is being carried out by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute at the Royal Children’s Hospital. It will address numerous issues including asthma and obesity to name a few.
Dr Ford is Clinical Director for Women’s Health at Peninsula Health. He’s helped to facilitate the program’s launch at Frankston Hospital.
“The study collects a whole bunch of what we call ‘demographic data’ which is just about family, what they do, where they live, their socio-economic status, their smoking status, the genetic information from the parents and the child,” Dr Ford said.
Mrs Ford is a primary school teacher who’s having a break from the profession to now be a recruiter for GenV.
Her job is to approach families on the maternity ward once their baby has been born, and to sign them up with GenV. The parents’ and newborn’s data are safely and securely de-identified.
Over the past 25 years of teaching, Mrs Ford has noticed the amount of children with health problems has increased dramatically. “When I started teaching 25 years ago, and I would get my class list, there might be a couple of children that had certain conditions,” Mrs Ford said.
“But now, when you get a class list, there are so many children that are flagged for a variety of reasons.”
Dr Ford said GenV will give researchers information about the causes of various health conditions so they can help the current adult population, not just future generations.
GenV will soon be launched at Bay’s Hospital and Peninsula Private.
You can find out more about GenV at genv.org.au