CLS opens up access to 1958 birth cohort biomedical data

News, Data release
18 January 2021

The Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) has redeposited data from the 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS) 2002-2004 Biomedical Sweep, with most data now available to researchers under the UK Data Service’s standard access arrangements (End User Licence) for the first time. Previously, data from this sweep, collected when cohort members were age 44, could only be accessed under the UK Data Service’s Special Licence.

This latest data release, which also includes some previously unreleased data is part of CLS efforts to widen access to its four cohort studies. The Centre aims to make as much data available as possible, with the lowest barriers possible, while ensuring tighter restrictions are in place where necessary.

The NCDS Age 44 Biomedical Sweep was designed to gather information about the factors associated with health in midlife. The survey was conducted by nurses and captured a range of objective measures, including measures of vision, hearing, blood pressure and pulse, lung function, height, weight, and waist and hip circumference. Interview questions covered topics such as appetite, fatigue, concentration, sleep problems, and depression. Cohort members also completed two paper questionnaires, with questions about sun exposure, physical activity and (women only) menopause, contraception and HRT, and other health matters.

Previously restricted data now on easier access

The survey data were first deposited with the UK Data Service in 2008 under Special Licence. CLS has now reviewed the original data deposit to assess which variables might contain information that could re-identify an individual (disclosivity) and how damaging re-identification might be to an individual (sensitivity). As a result, the majority of data (1,079 variables) have now been moved to standard End User Licence access arrangements, making them more readily available to the research community. Those variables categorised as more disclosive and sensitive remain available under Special Licence. Data from 9,293 cohort members are included in this new deposit.

New data released

The updated End User Licence dataset now contains previously unreleased data on medication, conveniently de-identified for this type of licence.
The updated Special Licence dataset (122 variables) now comprises some previously unreleased data on child adversity as well as variables on other sensitive topics and variables with small numbers in some categories that could increase the risk of identification.

How to access the data

The data are available to researchers around the world via the UK Data Service. The majority of variables are available under End User Licence with only the sensitive and disclosive variables available under Special Licence.

To download the data, visit the UK Data Service website:

National Child Development Study: Biomedical Survey 2002-2004 (SN 8731)
National Child Development Study: Biomedical Survey: Medication, Childhood Adversity and Sensitive Biomeasures, 2002-2004: Special Licence Access (SN 5594)

Read the user guide

National Child Development Study: Biomedical Survey, 2002-2004 – user guide

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