£28 million boost to UK’s biggest study of babies and young children; new Cohort Resources Facility to be set up

1 March 2011

The Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) today announced a grant of £28.5 million to a team at University College London responsible for a new cohort study due to start in 2012, which will track the growth, development, health, well-being and social circumstances of over 90,000 UK babies and their families.

The grant is in addition to £5 million made available by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)  and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

The team is headed by Professor Carol Dezateux, Director of the MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health at UCL.

The study will initially cover the period from pregnancy right through to the early years. It will be the fifth in a series of world-renowned UK studies which have followed the lives of children from birth to adult life. The first of these was the 1946 cohort (NSHD), and the other three were the 1958 cohort (NCDS), 1970 cohort (BCS70) and the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS).

As with the earlier cohorts, this new study will provide a wealth of insights into the health, development and life circumstances of this new generation of children. It has been developed by a team comprising the UK’s leading biomedical and social scientists, and is designed to reflect the rich diversity of ethnic identity and social backgrounds of babies being born in today’s Britain.

It will also include a wider and more intensive study of children during their first year of life and will provide information to help address important questions for children’s health and well-being, including:

•What are the key factors that help some children to overcome social disadvantage at birth and improve their life chances?

•How do eating and physical activity behaviours develop in very early life and influence growth, body composition and weight gain in later childhood?

•How does a child’s early temperament interact with parenting style and influence social and emotional communication styles and difficulties in later childhood?

•What are the effects of exposure to a range of environmental pollutants during early infancy on children’s subsequent health and development?

Cohort Resources Facility

The five birth cohort studies will be strengthened by a new resource, the Cohort Resources Facility. This world-leading resource will play a vital role in maximising the use, value and impact of the data collected from both the new and existing UK birth cohort studies. By establishing a national centre of excellence across each of these studies, researchers and policy makers will be able to make better comparisons over time and between different cohorts, measuring the changes in intergenerational social mobility and educational attainment. The Cohort Resources Facility will make the most of the UK’s existing investments and ensure the UK’s world leading position in life course and birth cohort studies. It will provide unprecedented opportunities to understand how economic, social and biological factors combine to explain human behaviour in key important areas such as health, poverty, child development and healthy ageing.


ESRC Press Release announcing  new grant and Cohort Resources Facility.

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