History of the National Child Development Study

The National Child Development Study (NCDS) started in 1958 as the Perinatal Mortality Survey. Sponsored by the National Birthday Trust Fund, the survey was designed to examine the social and obstetric factors associated with stillbirth and death in early infancy among the children born in Great Britain.

The Perinatal Mortality Survey collected information on approximately 17,500 babies born in England, Scotland and Wales in one week of 1958. It was the second in a series of three such perinatal studies. The other studies are based on a week’s births in 1946 and 1970. The Millennium Cohort Study is based on a sample of births in selected wards in 2000-01. Each of these studies became the basis for a continuing longitudinal study.

The initial birth survey, in 1958, was followed by eight attempts to trace all members of the cohort in order to monitor their health, development and social circumstances. The first four NCDS ‘sweeps’ were carried out by the National Children’s Bureau in 1965, 1969, 1974, and 1981. In 1991, the Social Statistics Research Unit at City University carried out the fifth sweep.

In 1998 the management of the NCDS was transferred to the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) at the UCL Institute of Education. CLS has since carried out the four most recent sweeps, in 1999-2000, 2004, 2008 and 2013.

CLS will carry out a new survey of the NCDS cohort at age 60 in 2018.

Tell us about your research

We ask researchers to contact us whenever they publish research using the cohort data. With up-to-date records, we can help other researchers avoid duplication and also demonstrate to funders how useful the data is to the research community.

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