Using health record linkage in the UK Millennium Cohort Study to investigate childhood obesity, asthma and infections

About the project

This project was carried out jointly by the MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health at the Institute of Child Health at University College London and the Centre for Longitudinal Studies. It was funded by the Wellcome Trust and began in June 2010 and was completed in 2013.
UK birth cohort studies have made important contributions to understanding of disease and health through early childhood and into adult life. The UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) was set up to understand the health and social and economic circumstances of British children born in the new century. It includes children from disadvantaged social circumstances, ethnic minorities and those living in all four UK countries. This project added to the information already collected on these children at ages 9 months, 3, 5 and 7 years by obtaining, with parental consent, information recorded electronically about their use of hospital services as either inpatients or outpatients. This helped answer important questions about children’s health, particularly concerning children who become obese or overweight in the preschool years or who have developed asthma or other allergic disorders by 7 years of age. Survey data was also compared with health records to understand more about the quality, completeness and consistency of recording of a child's ethnic group in hospital health records. Finally the project tested whether it is possible to link cohort children to their electronic general practice records, with parental consent,  as this information helped determine the value of attempting these linkages in future.
A fully documented dataset incorporating enhancements from the linked records was deposited with the UK Data Archive in 2013 when workshops for potential users were held to promote and facilitate the use of the linked data.

Ethics Approval:

Ethics approval has been obtained at each MCS cohort survey and covers permissions sought for record linkage at the relevant MCS surveys.

Project Team:

Professor Carol Dezateux, Principal Investigator, Institute of Child Health, UCL

Peter Shepherd, CLS Project Manager

Mario Cortina-Borja, Institute of Child Health, UCL

Mitchel Blair, Imperial College

Jane Elliott, ESRC