Chapter

Conducting longitudinal epidemiological research in children

John Henderson

in Researchers and their 'subjects'

Published by Policy Press

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9781861345141
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303220 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781861345141.003.0010
Conducting longitudinal epidemiological research in children

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The increasing recognition that events during pregnancy and early infancy have a profound impact on future health and disease through to later life has led to the development of longitudinal and epidemiological studies beginning in early life to study the antecedents of important public health outcomes. These studies are further enhanced by developments in human genetics which led to advances in the knowledge of genetic influences on human health and disease and technology. This chapter discusses the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). This research was designed to examine the interactions between genetic susceptibilities and environmental exposures on children's health and well-being, including disease, health, developmental, psychological, educational and social outcomes. What is described in this chapter is an example of a large, population-based, longitudinal birth cohort that was recruited for the purpose of non-therapeutic, epidemiological research. In this chapter, the nature of the study, the methods of data collection, and an example given of a physical measurement that was deemed necessary to characterise accurately a particular health outcome are analysed and described. The regulatory framework on which the study was based is also discussed as well as the practical considerations of carrying out the physical testing, parent and child interactions, understanding and satisfaction.

Keywords: epidemiological studies; Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children; data collection; physical measurement; regulatory framework; practical considerations; children

Chapter.  8096 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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