The British 1958 cohort (also known as the National Child Development Study) includes all births in England, Wales and Scotland, during one week in 1958. From an original sample of over 17,000 births, survivors were followed up at ages 7, 11, 16, 23, 33 and 42 years. Immigrants of the same dates of birth were identified at ages 7, 11 and 16, and followed into adulthood, but adult immigrants (after age 16) have not been included. Data collected up to age 42 by interviews with parents and cohort members, and at school medical examinations, includes information on growth, health and health related behaviour, family background, socio-economic circumstances, behavioural, emotional and cognitive development, educational achievement, employment, psychosocial work characteristics, partnership and pregnancy histories.
The Medical Research Council awarded £5 million over 6 years (2001-2007) under their Health of the Public research programme to carry out the first objective biomedical assessment of the cohort in adulthood. The principal applicants on this MRC strategic project grant were Prof Christine Power (Institute of Child Health, London), Prof David Strachan (St George's, University of London), Prof John Bynner (Institute of Education) and Dr Gillian Prior (National Centre for Social Research). The collaborators on DNA extraction and banking are Prof Marcus Pembrey and Dr Richard Jones (Institute of Child Health, London and University of Bristol).
All eligible cohort members (ie. all except "permanent refusals") were invited to participate in a clinical examination by a trained research nurse visiting their home. Following a period of piloting, this fieldwork started in September 2002 and was completed in March 2004. The visits were carried out by a team of over 120 specially trained nurses from the National Centre for Social Research, who conduct the annual Health Surveys of England and Scotland. From a target sample of 12,069 persons, 9377 cohort members were visited.
The measurements (at age 44-45 years) included:
- More extensive health-related interview including the CIS-R and AUDIT psychiatric questionnaires
- Anthropometry: standing & sitting heights, weight, waist & hip circumferences
- Blood pressure, pulse rate
- Spirometry (FEV1 & FVC)
- Pure tone audiometry at 1 and 4 kHz
- Tests of near and distant visual acuity, stereopsis and refractive error
- Early morning and midday saliva collection, with funds for salivary cortisol measurements
- Blood collection, for analysis of lipids, glycosylated haemoglobin, clotting factors, inflammatory markers, total and specific immunoglobulin E
- Consent to storage of plasma and DNA samples, and creation of immortalised cell lines.