Welcome to the BILD Cohort!

BILD stands for the Bern Basel Infant Lung Development cohort. The BILD cohort was established in 1999 in Bern, and since 2011 has also been in Basel. It is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The longitudinal study has recruited almost 1000 infants since its inception, whose lung growth and development are then studied throughout childhood.

The goal of the study is a better understanding of infant and child lung growth and development in relation to lung diseases such as asthma. We are interested in understanding the effects of genetics and the environment (air pollution, in particular) on children's developing airways. 

BILD study overview

Our hypothesis is that specific mechanisms may be responsible for the impairment of lung growth.  While the impact of each risk factor may be small, it is the interaction between the genetic, environmental, and developmental aspects that could teach us something. Our research has revealed that certain constellations of these risk factors, at specific times during a child's development, will increase the risk for the later development of asthma. We take a novel approach to the study of lung disease by looking at these complex interactions. Wheezing disorders and asthma in infants and preschool children has become a major health issue. The BILD study investigates the effects of genetics, environment (namely, air pollution and tobacco smoke exposure), and the Western lifestyle on lung growth and development, and subsequent consequences for later respiratory disease in early childhood. 


Our cohort is extremely data-rich, consisting of genetic analysis, environmental air pollution measurements, microbial colonization and viral infection data, and highly standadized longitudinal clinical, lung function, and inflammatory biomarker data.  With this data we seek to answer questions related to the effects of air pollution on respiratory symptoms, the role of the airway microbiome in early infancy, and genetic biomarkers in early infancy.  We take a systems medicine approach, clustering based on fluctuation of weekly symptoms in the first year of life. 



The impact of air pollution on fetal neonatal lung and immunity development, and its interaction in response to respiratory viruses and bacterial colonization is still largely unknown, but is likely highly complex and with interdependent effects. In order to better understand its comprehensive impact on the evolution of respiratory disease, we need longitudinal data to analytically identify the time course and relative contribution of involved mechanisms, and integrate their small contribution into systems-based models, which will enable us to better identify infants at risk. This approach will also enable us to develop environmental, preventative, and therapeutic strategies for infants and children.


For more detailed information on the aims and methods used in the BILD study, please see our publications link, or contact one of the study leaders for more information.