Session 7 abstracts

Welcome to session 7 on day 2 (09:50 – 10:50)




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Track 1 - Symposium: Recent developments and innovations in UK and Ireland cohort studies

Developing a new UK-wide birth cohort in the 2020s: The Early Life Cohort Feasibility Study (ELC-FS)
Study: The Early Life Cohort Feasibility Study

Lisa Calderwood, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies

Longitudinal birth cohort studies are vital for understanding the development and outcomes of successive generations of children, though there is increasing recognition that often those families who are of most interest from a research and policy perspective are less likely to be recruited and retained in national studies. The UK Early Life Cohort Feasibility Study (ELC-FS), funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, is testing the feasibility of a new UK-wide birth cohort study. It is led by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at University College London. It aims to recruit several thousand new babies from across the UK in the first year of life, with a target age at interview of around 9 months, and collect information on their economic and social environments, their health, wellbeing and development.

Maximising the policy value and use of longitudinal data: The development of Growing Up in Ireland
Study: Growing Up in Ireland

Clare Farrell, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

This presentation will outline the development of Growing Up in Ireland, which is now a comprehensive three cohort study informed by the data demands and experience of policy and other stakeholders, committed to better outcomes for children and young people. The presentations will highlight how Growing Up in Ireland has transformed the evidence landscape and the value GUI has for the development of evidence informed and effective policies.

GUIDE – a comparative European longitudinal study of child wellbeing
Study: Growing Up in Digital Europe

Gary Pollock, Manchester Metropolitan University

Growing Up In Digital Europe, or GUIDE for short, is Europe’s first comparative longitudinal birth cohort survey and will be an essential evidence base for child well-being policy-making across the UK and Europe for decades to come.  It will follow a representative sample of babies and children up to the age of 24.  GUIDE was included on the 2021 iteration of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures Roadmap in recognition of its importance for the future.  The research instruments are input harmonised to facilitate comparative analysis and the fieldwork processes are common for all participating countries.

Adapting through adolescence and COVID – recent experience of the Growing Up in Scotland study
Study: Growing Up in Scotland

Paul Bradshaw, Scottish Centre for Social Research

The Growing Up in Scotland study has followed a representative cohort of Scottish children since 2005 when they were aged 10 months old. Data was collected annually from birth to age 6 and then at ages 8, 10, 12, 14 and 17/18. Recent sweeps have seen significant change in terms of content and methodological approach reflecting the cohort’s age, developments in mixed mode data collection and the challenges of COVID-19. This paper will update on these changes, reflecting on their success or otherwise. A brief summary of recent key findings will also be included, particularly from the age 14 sweep

Track 2 - Income-related inequalities

The instability of public and private safety nets over early and middle childhood among low-income, vulnerable families
Study: Fragile Families

Melissa Radey, Florida State University

Co-authors: Joanna Wu, Lenore McWey and Eugenia Millender

Poverty, or the inability to meet basic needs, affects a person’s health, development, and quality of life. Families’ public and private safety nets, or support networks available in times of need, can address poverty and its consequences. The study used data from the Future of Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) to examine safety nets at Years 1, 3, 5, and 9 among mothers living in poverty during at least one wave (n = 1906). Although the identified classes were similar across waves, mothers’ safety net configurations changed over time, particularly among mothers with low private support.

The emergence of health gaps in early life in France: Effects of childhood deprivation
Study: ELFE

Yuliya Kazakova, INED

Co-authors: Lidia Panico and Marion Leturcq

Evidence suggests that children’s early environments “get under the skin” from the earliest moments of life and early childhood is therefore crucial to our understanding of the production of health inequalities later in life. Based on the French birth cohort study, which follows over 18,000 children, we develop a child-cantered multidimensional framework to explore early childhood deprivation and how it is linked to early health. Additionally, we investigate if the depth of deprivation and accumulation of deprivation over the studying period play a significant role in child health.

The changing effect of family income on mental health from early childhood to adolescence: A longitudinal study from the UK
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Murong Yang, University of Oxford

Co-authors: Claire Carson and Mara Violato

Children from low income families are likely to have poorer mental health than those from more affluent families. Using data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, this study investigates the relationship between family income and mental health problems from early childhood to adolescence and its potential variations with age. Results show that a significant child mental health-income gradient remains, even after controlling for known confounders and unobserved heterogeneity. However, the gradient varies with children’s age, being larger in adolescence than in childhood, suggesting that the timing of policy intervention is important for reducing income-related child mental health inequalities.

Income volatility and maternal psychological distress: evidence from the UK
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Nicolas Libuy, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies

Maternal psychological distress is rising among mothers in mid-life. Contributors to this are multi-faceted, and this paper focuses on one: income volatility. Previous research focuses on income levels, showing that it predicts poorer mental health, but does not address how income volatility may exacerbate level effects. This paper uses nationally representative longitudinal data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) from 2000 to 2012 to study the extent to which household income volatility is associated with maternal psychological distress. It finds that household income volatility is positively associated with maternal distress. Findings also indicate that associations are larger among mothers with a history of moderate or severe distress.

Track 3 - COVID-19, decision-making

Children as independent agents in financially strained households: A longitudinal test of the family stress model
Study: Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

Alexander O’Donnell, University of Tasmania, Australia

Co-authors: Gerry Redmond and Alex Gardner

The Family Stress Model (FSM) is a theoretical perspective that explains how and why family poverty can contribute to child mental health outcomes. The original theory proposes financial pressures contribute to elevated child mental health concerns, but only via parental mental health disturbances. Yet, children navigate their lives with awareness and are often acutely aware of financial pressures within the household. Using the Australian Longitudinal Study of Australian Children and the UK Household Longitudinal Study, we demonstrate these links having observed a longitudinal association between financial pressures and child internalising symptoms independent of parental factors.

Mapping mental health inequalities in UK young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic from an intersectional perspective
Studies: Millennium Cohort Study & Next Steps

Darío Moreno-Agostino, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies

Co-authors: Charlotte Woodhead, George B Ploubidis and Jayati Das-Munshi

We provide a socio-demographic mapping of mental health measures at the intersection between cohort/generation, birth sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic position. Using Multilevel Analysis of Individual Heterogeneity and Discriminatory Accuracy (MAIHDA) models with data from two British cohorts (Next Steps and Millennium Cohort Study, born in 1989-1990 and 2000–2002, respectively), collected during the third UK nationwide lockdown (February/March 2021), we found large inequalities across intersectional strata, with some of the largest gaps associated with sexual orientation (sexual minority groups showing worse outcomes). Intersectional effects were observed mostly in intersections defined by combinations of privileged and marginalised social identities/positions.

Psychological distress, depression, anxiety, and life satisfaction following COVID-19 infection: evidence from 11 UK longitudinal population studies
Studies: Millennium Cohort Study and ten others

Jean Stafford, University College London

Co-authors: Ellen J Thompson, Jean Stafford, Bettina Moltrecht, Charlotte F. Huggins, Alex SF Kwong, Richard?J?Shaw, Paola Zaninotto, Kishan Patel, Richard J Silverwood, Eoin McElroy, Matthias Pierce, Michael J Green, Ruth CE Bowyer, Jane Maddock, Kate Tilling, S Vit

Evidence on associations between COVID-19 illness and mental health is mixed. Using data from 11 UK longitudinal studies (MCS, ALSPAC-G0, ALSPAC-G1, NS, BCS70, NCDS, NSHD, USOC, ELSA, GS, and TwinsUK), we examined whether COVID-19 is associated with deterioration in mental health while considering pre-pandemic mental health, time since infection, subgroup differences, and confirmation of infection via self-reported test and serology data. We found that self-reported COVID-19 was longitudinally associated with deterioration in mental health and life satisfaction. Our findings emphasise the need for greater post-infection mental health service provision, given the substantial prevalence of COVID-19 in the UK and worldwide.

Reciprocal associations between affective decision-making and mental health in adolescence.
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Francesca Bentivegna, University College London

Co-authors: Eirini Flouri and Steven Papachristou

The link between poor affective decision-making and mental health in the general population is still unclear. This study explored the bidirectional associations between various aspects of affective decision-making, measured using the Cambridge Gambling Task, and mental health problems (internalising and externalising symptoms) in early adolescence. We used data from 13,366 young people aged 11 and 14 years from the Millennium Cohort Study. Methodologically appropriate techniques, particularly cross-lagged path modelling, were employed to test our hypotheses. The results suggest a tendency for mental health problems to impair later decision-making, and that externalising rather than internalising symptoms are associated with poor decision-making.

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