MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health
Research quick links
- Congenital disorders
- Childhood origins of adult disease
- Electronic health records
- Genetic epidemiology
- Growth & development
- Health inequalities
- Life course research
- Obesity, nutrition & physical activity
- Research for policy & practice
- Screening & surveillance
- Statistical methods
- Vision & eyes
Published: Nov 29, 2013 11:51:38 AM
The study, published 30 September, was commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership and is part of the Child Health Reviews - UK (CHR-UK) project led by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and based at our Centre.
Key findings are:
Published: Oct 3, 2013 4:41:09 PM
Two papers from the Centre’s HIV group have been selected for inclusion in the August issue of HIV , which highlights important new findings in HIV science. More...
Published: Sep 9, 2013 3:45:53 PM
Half of all UK seven year-olds are sedentary for between six and seven waking hours per day and half are not doing the recommended daily minimum of one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity, according to the latest findings from the Millennium Cohort Study.
The research, led by academics at UCL and published in the journal BMJ Open, shows that girls, children of Indian ethnic origin and those living in Northern Ireland are least active.
The authors base their findings on a representative population sample of almost 7,000 UK primary school children who are all part of the Millennium Cohort Study.
The duration and intensity of children's daily physical activity levels were captured for a full week between May 2008 and August 2009, using a device called an accelerometer, worn on an elasticated belt. The children only took this off when they bathed or went to bed.
UK guidelines on physical activity levels across the life course were revised in 2011. These recommend that children engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least one hour every day, and that they spend less time sitting down, although no maximum duration has been specified for this.
The analysis showed that on average, across the entire sample, children achieved 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, and that they took an average of 10,299 steps.
But the accelerometer readings also showed that half the children were sedentary for six hours or more every day and that half of them didn't achieve the daily recommended minimum level of exercise.
Girls fared worse than boys in terms of of total physical activity, moderate to vigorous physical activity and in the number of steps they took each day. They were also more sedentary and less likely to meet the minimum daily exercise recommendations than the boys. Just 38% of girls achieved this, compared with almost two thirds of boys (63%).
"We don't have any biological explanation for the different levels of activity in boys and girls," says Carol Dezateux, Professor of Paediatric Epidemiology at the UCL Institute of Child Health and senior author on the study. "At this age, there aren't significant differences in how children are put together physically, so we have to look at opportunity and social expectation.
"What we need to see is a positive attitude to offering choice, diversity of opportunity, a wide range of activities and inclusiveness for all children - especially girls."
Children of Indian ethnic origin spent least time engaged in moderate to vigorous exercise and took fewest steps each day, while only one in three (33%) of children of Bangladeshi origin met the recommendations.
Among the four UK countries, children in Northern Ireland were least active with just 43% managing 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, while children in Scotland (52.5%) were most likely to achieve the minimum daily recommended duration of more intense activity.
Around 52% of English children managed 60 minutes each day but there were some regional differences, with children living in the North West (58%) most likely and those in the Midlands (46%) the least likely to meet the guidelines.
In an accompanying podcast, senior author Professor Carol Dezateux describes the gender differences in exercise levels as "striking" and calls for policies to promote more exercise in girls including ballgames, playground games and dancing.
The authors refer back to the promise of the London 2012 Olympic Games, which was to inspire a generation to take part in sport.
"The results of our study provide a useful baseline and strongly suggest that contemporary UK children are insufficiently active, implying that effort is needed to boost (physical activity) among young people to the level appropriate for good health," they write.
This is likely to require population wide interventions, they say, including policies to make it easier for children to walk to school, in a bid to increase physical activity and curb the amount of time they are sedentary. More...
Published: Aug 23, 2013 3:36:42 PM
Published: Apr 26, 2013 2:30:00 PM
Our research in this area is directed to understanding the potential risks that infection acquired by the mother in pregnancy may pose to the fetus and the child at birth.
Accurate information on the frequency of the infection being passed on to the fetus or baby is central to planning and evaluating prevention, diagnosis and treatment policies and practice.
We study many different infections, including rubella (German measles), HIV, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis and hepatitis C.
The health effects of some infections acquired in early life may not be evident until many years later. Some of our research looks at these later health consequences of early-life infections.
For more information see Infections
By using long-term data gathered though birth cohort studies we can discover more about how factors in early life influence our health as adults. For example, how does being overweight as a child affect cardiovascular health as an adult?
Answering these questions is crucial to understanding the origins of emerging health issues that are placing increasing pressure on our health and public services.
Measuring the size, height and weight of infants and children is relatively straightforward. However, the analysis of these measurements to transform them into an indicator of potential problems with a child’s growth and development is complex.
Our research in this area has contributed to the development of growth charts that are used by parents, healthcare workers and researchers worldwide.
Our research in this area includes a range of surveillance studies that have been instrumental in improving screening and treatment policies in the UK for a number of conditions with which infants are born.
As well as trying to improve our understanding of what causes these disorders, our research also aims to understand how they may affect a child’s health over the course of their life time.
More more information see Infections, Congenital and inherited disorders and Growth and development
Cross-cutting MRC research themes
Our four cross-cutting themes aim to extend our research capacity and skills across all the work that we do. These add value to our research into child health by enhancing the use and analysis of data we collect.
With the development of electronic health records there are new opportunities to link different sources of population and health data.
Effective linkage will allow us to follow children as they age, providing valuable sources of data to better understand the long-term effects of how our health and experiences in childhood affect our health throughout life.
For more information see Electronic health records
By developing new methods for analysing complex data and data gathered over long periods of time in both clinical and population studies, we can gain an even better understanding of growth, development and factors influencing long-term health.
For more information see Statistical methods
Genetic and Biological data gathered within the context of clinical or population studies can provide new insights into the causes of health and disease. Through funding dedicated to this area, we aim to develop skills and methodologies that take full advantage of the genetic and biological data in population and other studies.
For more information see: Genetic epidemiology
Evaluating, providing evidence for improvement, and identifying where new research could inform better policies is essential if our research is to have an impact.
To do this we must understand how our research is, and can be, relevant to policy-makers and the information they need. This theme focuses on extending our work around health services and public health research.
For more information see Research for policy and practice
Page last modified on 16 oct 11 15:37