ELFE (Growing up in France)

The French Longitudinal Study of Children.


The project ELFE aims at building a cohort of 20,000 children, nationally representative, to be followed from birth to adulthood under a multidisciplinary approach.

The longitudinal study should be a unique source of data to analyse the child’s development in its context, allowing to study the various factors interacting all over the life course up to adulthood (family structure, social and physical environment, schooling, health and nutritional behaviour…) and to clarify the impact of the experience lived during infancy on the individual’s physical, psychological, social and professional development. From an epidemiological point of view, it will be possible to measure the cumulative exposures to specific environmental conditions or behaviours year after year and to analyse their consequences on social and health inequalities.

The sample

The cohort will be based on the INSEE Demographic Panel (échantillon démographique permanent, EDP). All children born on specific days of year 2009 (4 days in each of the four different quarters) will be included. One unique feature of this cohort will be the pooling of its database. The INSEE demographic panel  will serve as a single reference for existing surveys that, until now, had used different panels (perinatal surveys, school medical surveys. assessment tests, etc). It will be paired up with other data sources, including those from the Social Security system, the family benefits agency and the educational system.

Data Collection

The first sweep will take place at maternity hospitals to obtain information on pregnancy, the perinatal period and the mothers’ and babies’ health at delivery.  Biological samples will also be taken at the maternity hospital to provide information on genetic traits and biomarkers of exposure to certain pollutants.

The second sweep will be conducted by the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) at the babies’ homes, 6-8 weeks after birth. It will comprise a face-to-face interview with the mother and will be completed by a telephone interview with the father.

Other face-to face interviews are programmed for ages 3, 6 and 11 years. Telephone surveys will take place in the intermediate years.

Environmental sensors may be placed in the children’s homes. Furthermore, it will be possible to use data from national bases on geographic sources of pollution thanks to geocoding of the dwellings concerned.

Project organization

The project is managed by a scientific interest grouping (Groupe d’interêt scientifique, GIS) which liaises between the main partners involved in project development: INED (the National Institute for Demographic Studies), INSERM (the National Institute for Health and Medical Research), InVS (the National Institute for Public Health Surveillance), DGS (Ministry of Health), DREES (Ministry of Social Affairs), DEPP (Ministry of Education), CNAF (the national Family Benefits Agency). Other institutions might join the GIS at a later date. Both the GIS and the project team will be based at INED.

The permanent project team includes (as of March 1st 2007) : a Project director (Henri Leridon, Ined-Inserm), three Thematic managers, one Biostatistian, one Computer scientist, three secretaries.

Specific groups are set on to manage transversal issues, like Data collection methodology, Data processing and protection of privacy, Data collection in Maternities.

Each broad scientific topic has a coordinator, working part-time on the project.

Main topics are: Demography-family; Socialization-education; Economy-poverty; Feeding-nutrition; Psychomotor development and mental health; Use of health care; Respiratory diseases, asthma and allergies; Accidents and traumas; Chemical exposures; Physical exposures; Environmental contaminations (air, water)

More information is available on the ELFE website