Professor Christine MacArthur BSc, MSc, PhD, FMedSci

Professor Christine MacArthur

Institute of Applied Health Research
Professor of Maternal and Child Epidemiology

Contact details

+44 (0)121 414 6770
Telephone (2)
PA: Jennifer Knight Email:
Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Institute of Applied Health Research
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT

Christine MacArthur is Professor of Maternal and Child Epidemiology in the Institute of Applied Health Research.  Her main research is on childbirth-related health problems especially longer-term, as well as the evaluation of maternity health services. She has published many papers in peer-reviewed journals as well as several books and chapters. She has received grants from NIHR, MRC, Wellbeing of Women as well as other local, national and international funding bodies. She conducts randomised controlled trials as well as cohort and other epidemiological studies and has collaborated with colleagues internationally including in developing world countries.


Professor of Maternal and Child Epidemiology

  • FMedSci, Fellow, Academy of Medical Sciences, UK 2020
  • PhD Epidemiology 1978
  • MSc Epidemiology/Public Health 1974
  • BSc (Hons) Social Sciences 1972


Christine MacArthur obtained a BSc in Social Sciences in 1972.  She was then awarded a 2 year ESRC (then SSRC) studentship to study for a research based MSc in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Manchester, which she obtained in 1974.  Alongside working as a researcher, she obtained a PhD in 1978, which was a trial of anti-smoking education in pregnancy. Following a 3 year period working at Christie Hospital in Manchester on cancer epidemiology she moved to Department of Social Medicine, University of Birmingham in 1981 to work with Professor George Knox.  She has stayed since then, first as a research fellow, becoming a senior research fellow, then a Reader in 1995 and in 2000 she was promoted to Professor of Maternal and Child Epidemiology.  She was elected to Academy of Medical Sciences in 2020.


Postgraduate supervision

Christine is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:

  • Trials and other quantitative studies on health problems following childbirth and on evaluation of maternity health services.

If you are interested in studying any of these subject areas please contact Christine directly, or 
for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email


The main emphasis of Professor Christine MacArthur’s research over the last 40 years has been on aspects of women’s childbirth-related health and care.  This has comprised the generation of hypotheses in large observational studies and investigation of related interventions in randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Her collaborations are numerous and include local colleagues, those elsewhere in UK and internationally. Completed and ongoing studies include:

  • APPEAL: Antenatal Preventative Pelvic floor Exercises (PFME) and Localisation - delivery of PFE education and support by midwives for women during pregnancy - including feasibility RCT 
  • Cohort study of women who gave birth in 1993/4 (ProLong) in Birmingham, Aberdeen and New Zealand to investigate incontinence.  Women followed at 6 years and 12 years and recently at 26 years.  
  • RCT of pelvic floor muscle exercise (PFME) for women with urinary incontinence at 3 months postpartum followed up at 1 and 6 years; nested in ProLong cohort. (PINT)  
  • RCT of PFME to prevent prolapse; nested in ProLong cohort (PREVPROL) 
  • RCT of Assets-based feeding help Before and After birth for improving breastfeeding (ABA-feed) 
  • Maternal health study: cohort study of first time mothers followed to 10 years postpartum, with colleagues at University of Melbourne including data on incontinence and other postnatal morbidity.  
  • Population based cohort study in rural Pakistan of urinary incontinence, uterine prolapse and obstetric fistula. 
  • RCT of intravenous remifentanil patient-controlled analgesia versus intramuscular pethidine for pain relief in labour (RESPITE)  
  • RCT of a breastfeeding peer support service on breastfeeding initiation and continuation (HoBBITT). Two systematic reviews supported this work. 
  • RCT of upright versus lying down position in the second stage of labour in nulliparous women with a low dose epidural (BUMPES) 
  • RCT of effect of low-dose mobile versus traditional epidural techniques on mode of delivery (COMET) 
  • Cluster RCT of effects of redesigned midwifery-led postnatal care on women’s health up to 12 months postpartum. 
  • Health After Childbirth; cohort study of health problems up to 9 years after birth among 11701 women based on questionnaires to women linked to obstetric records.  
  • RCT of effect of a pregnancy outreach worker service on antenatal care engagement, psychological health and infant outcomes in multi-ethnic women with social risk (ELSIPS) 
  • RCT of the effectiveness of physical activity for reducing postnatal depression (PAM-PeRS) 
  • RCT trial of preventing obesity in pregnancy (POPS). 
  • RCT of aerobic exercise for women with menopausal vasomotor symptoms (Active Women).  
  • Quasi-RCT of effects of anti-smoking health education on infant size at birth; and subsequent follow up of children at age 9.


Selected publications

Brown S, Gartland D, Woolhouse H, Giallo R, McDonald E, Seymour M, Conway L, FitzPatrick K, Cook F, Papadopoullos S, MacArthur C, et al (2021) The Maternal Health Study: study design update for a prospective cohort of first-time mothers and their first-born children from birth to age ten. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology

Jones E, Taylor B, MacArthur C, Bradshaw C, Hope L, Cummins C, (2020) Early Postnatal Discharge for Infants: A Meta-analysis Pediatrics, Aug 2020, e20193365;

Wilson M J, MacArthur C, Hewitt C, Handley K, Fang Gao, Beeson L, Daniels J. (2018). Intravenous remifentanil patient-controlled analgesia versus intramuscular pethidine for pain relief in labour (RESPITE): an open-label, multicentre, randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Aug 20, vol. 392.

The Epidural And Position Trial Collaborative Group (writing committee). (2017). Upright vs lying down position in the second stage of labour in nulliparous women with a low dose epidural: the BUMPES randomised controlled trial. BMJ; 359:j4471

Hagen S, Glazener C, McClurg D, MacArthur C, Elders A, Herbison P, et al. (2017). Pelvic floor muscle training for the secondary prevention of pelvic organ prolapse (PREVPROL): a multicentre randomised controlled trial. The Lancet; 389:393-402

MacArthur C, Wilson D, Herbison P, Lancashire R, Hagen S, Toozs-Hobson P, Dean N, Glazener C. (2015). Urinary incontinence persisting after childbirth: extent, delivery history, and effects in a 12-year longitudinal cohort study. BJOG DOI: 10.1111/1471-0528.13395

MacArthur C, Wilson D, Herbison P, Lancashire RJ, Hagen S, Toozs-Hobson P, Dean N, Glazener C and Prolong Study Group. (2013). Faecal incontinence persisting after childbirth: a 12 year longitudinal study. BJOG 120(2):169-178

Jokhio AH, Rizvi RM, Rizvi J, MacArthur C. (2014). Prevalence of obstetric fistula: a population-based study in rural Pakistan. BJOG: 121(8):1039-1046. DOI: 10.1111/1471-0528.12739.

Prost A, Colbourn T, Seward N, Azad K, Coomarasamy A, Copas A, Houweling TA, Fottrell E, Kuddus A, Lewycka S, MacArthur C, et al. (2013). Women's groups practising participatory learning and action to improve maternal and newborn health in low-resource settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet 18;381(9879):1736-1746

MacArthur C, Glazener C, Lancashire RJ, Herbison P, Wilson D. (2011) Exclusive caesarean section delivery and subsequent urinary and faecal incontinence: a twelve year longitudinal study. BJOG 118:no.DOI 10.1111/j1471-0528.2011.02964.x.

Freemantle N, Wood J, Griffin C, Gill P, Calvert MJ, Shankar A, Chambers J, MacArthur C. (2009). What factors predict differences in infant and perinatal mortality in Primary Care Trusts in England? A prognostic model. BMJ 339:b2892..

MacArthur C, Jolly K, Ingram L, Freemantle N, Dennis C-L, Hamburger R, Brown J, Chambers J, Khan K. (2009). Antenatal peer support workers and breastfeeding initiation: a cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ 338:b131.

Wilson A, Gallos ID, Plana N, Lissauer D, Khan KS, Zamora J, MacArthur C, Coomarasamy A. (2011). Effectiveness of strategies incorporating training and support of traditional birth attendants on perinatal and maternal mortality: meta-analysis. BMJ 343:d7102

MacArthur C, Shennan A, May A, Whyte J, Hickman N, (writing committee) COMET study group. (2001). Effect of low-dose mobile versus traditional epidural techniques on mode of delivery: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 358:19-23.

MacArthur C, Winter H, Bick D, Knowles H, Lilford R et al. (2002). Effects of redesigned community postnatal care on women’s health 4 months after birth: a cluster randomised controlled trial. Lancet 359:378-385.


Maternal and child epidemiology