NEWS3 March 2011

UK government commits £28m to UK birth cohort study

Government UK

UK— The UK government’s Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has committed to donating £28.5m to the country’s largest-ever study of babies and young children.

The survey is being carried out by scientists at University College London and has already received £5m worth of funding from the Economic and Social Research Council and the Medical Research Council.

The Birth Cohort Study will track the growth, development, health, well-being and social circumstances of 90,000 babies and their families and cover the period from pregnancy to their early years. Recruiting for the study, which is the fifth of its kind in the UK since 1946, will begin in 2012.

The study will look into the key factors that help some children overcome social disadvantages and improve their life chances, whether eating and physical activity during the early growth years affect body composition and the effects of environmental pollutants during infancy.

UCL professor Carol Dezateux, who is leading the project, said: “It’s crucial we find out more about how biological and environmental influences combine to shape children’s health, development and life chances.”