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Institute of Child Health
30 Guilford Street
London WC1N 1EH
Life Course Epidemiology and Biostatistics
- Examining how biological, behavioural and psychosocial processes operate across an individual's life course or across generations to influence the development of disease risk
- Exploring what influences how we grow and develop from the womb into adulthood using innovative statistical methods
- Influencing policy and practice to reduce health inequalities, as well as improving the health and wellbeing of the population overall
Our life course research uses cohort studies such
as the 1958 Birth Cohort and the Millennium Cohort Study and will use Life Study.
This Programme runs Life Study, the UK’s largest national birth cohort study so far.
Our research into conditions that babies are born with include:
infections transmitted from mother to child, genetic conditions that may
be inherited from parents, and disorders of development that are often
manifest at birth.
We aim to provide information that can be used to improve how these disorders are diagnosed, treated and prevented. We also investigate the long-term effects of these conditions. Our research has been used to inform NICE guidelines on how specific conditions are treated, as well as for the development of national screening policies.
We consider how children grow and develop both mentally and physically. This includes studying the effects of infections and inherited disorders on growth and development, as well as social and environmental factors such as health inequalities, family structure or the amounts of physical activity that children do.
Our research in this area is closely linked with our research into obesity and physical activity and many of our studies analyse data collected through large cohort studies, to try to understand how our growth as children can affect our health as adults. We also have a programme of research that investigates the development of visual function in children.
Social and economic conditions influence how we behave, the lifestyle choices that we make, and the access we have to environments, amenities and services. These 'social determinants of health' affect whether we stay healthy or develop certain diseases, the treatment we receive, and the approach we take in promoting health and dealing with illness- both our own and that of our children.
The disparities in health between groups or populations are
known as health inequalities. By understanding how social, economic and
environmental conditions affect our lifestyle and our behaviour, and
understanding in turn how these affect our health, we can try to
identify ways to reduce health inequalities, as well as improving the
health and wellbeing of the population overall.
Our research around health inequalities focuses on children and parents. For example, a mother's health behaviours are influenced by her social and economic circumstances and can affect the health, growth and development of the fetus from very early in pregnancy.
We have a particular interest in eye disease & visual
impairment in childhood and in the early life origins of and lifecourse
influences on chronic complex eye disease in adult life. Through our
research we aim to enhance understanding of these disorders in order to improve
their prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and to inform policy decisions
nationally and internationally.
We have a long history of research around vaccination programmes in the UK. Our research:
- synthesises evidence on the saftety and effectiveness of vaccines
- investigates the attitudes and knowledge of parents and healthcare professionals around immunisation
- looks at what socio-economic or cultural factors influence whether or not a child is more or less likely to be vaccinated
- investigates the range of other factors that affect the uptake of vaccines
Training on Immunisation
Dr Helen Bedford provides training and information sessions
on immunisation to audiences, including parents, primary care staff,
GPs, paediatric nurses and medical students.
Obesity is a growing health problem in the UK. Childhood obesity has been linked to an increased risk of developing a number of chronic diseases in adulthood, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Understanding why children and adults become obese is key to finding ways to decrease these levels of obesity, which will help to improve public health and alleviate the strain that is being put on health services.
Our researchers are approaching childhood obesity from a number of different angles. We are investigating not only how environment, culture and socio-economic status influence the weight of our children, but how factors, such as the health of the mother or how an infant is fed and the rate at which they grow, play a role in their risk of becoming obese.
We are also conducting research into how obesity is linked
with emotional and behavioural problems in children. Significant
research is also being carried out on physical activity, not only in
childhood, but throughout our lives, and how that influences our weight
and our health.
Using a life course approach we have gained a better understanding of how obesity in childhood is linked to health problems later in life and how our growth and development during childhood influences the chance of becoming obese or overweight at adolescents as adults. A number of our studies into obesity have relied on data gathered in large cohort studies, specifically the 1958 Birth Cohort and the Millennium Cohort Study.
Page last modified on 07 may 14 13:55