Life Study (project)

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Life Study is a new cross-disciplinary child growth research study which will track the lives of over 100,000 UK babies and their families from all walks of life through pregnancy, birth and their early years. [1] It will collect a large amount of information on the health, growth and life factors of a new generation of children born in the UK. [2] This study will create a large storehouse of social, medical and environmental information and linked routine health data for use by UK academics and policy communities. The information in this storehouse resource will help answer questions regarding early life development of health and disease, and physical, psychological and social well-being.

With funding from the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Medical Research Council (MRC) academics from the Institute of Child Health's Paediatric Epidemiology Unit at University College London (UCL) are leading the study, [3] with Professor Carol Dezateux the Director of the project. [1]

Aims and objectives[edit]

The study has the potential to make an impact on the understanding of how a range of environmental factors in early life effect child growth, health and well-being in the UK. To achieve this, the study will look at:

  • Inequalities, diversity (including ethnic) and social changes in this new generation of UK children
  • Early life factors of school readiness and later educational performance
  • Development beginnings of health and illness in childhood
  • Social, emotional and mental development: the interaction between the child and parent
  • Neighbourhoods and the surrounding environment: effects on child and family

Comparison with past UK cohort studies[edit]

This will be the fifth of these types of child growth research studies (beginning in 1946) which have followed the lives of children from birth to adult life. As was the case with these earlier studies, the new study will provide a wide range of new information into the health, growth and life factors of this new generation of UK children. However, this is different from past child growth research studies in several ways:

  • More than five times larger than any of the earlier UK child growth research studies
  • Collecting information at three major points in the first year of life (including pregnancy)
  • First national study to fully look at the wide life differences of today’s UK citizens
  • Will allow the measurement the links between ethnic and cultural identity and key health outcomes within and across different UK generations
  • First research study designed from the beginning to be ‘hypothesis-led’
  • Will use new and creative methods to collect data from those who participate in the study
  • Will mix various sciences together to paint a clear picture of all the factors that affect the child and its growth
  • The topics researched will have major influence on scientific, policy and public health sectors


The project has three stages:

  • 2012 – Preparatory phase
  • 2013 – Pilot phase
  • 2014-2017 – Main phase
  • More than 100,000 pregnant women and their partners will be recruited to take part in the study from centres throughout the UK.
  • Three visits are planned – during pregnancy, four months after birth of the baby and again when the baby is 12 months old.
  • Information that the study will collect will be available to UK researchers in the UK Data Archive from 2015 onwards.


  1. ^ a b "Life Study: The latest UK Birth Cohort Study is named" Tuesday, July 17, 2012]UCL press release
  2. ^ "Womb-to-tomb study for 1 in 10 babies" The Times, March 2,2011 [1]
  3. ^ MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health UCL Institute of Child Health Life Study

External links[edit]