CHICOS (Developing a Child Cohort Research Strategy for Europe) was launched in January 2010 with the aim of improving child health across Europe by developing an integrated European strategy for birth cohort research. Birth cohorts are studies where babies are studied from infancy through childhood and sometimes into adulthood, and are very important for understanding development. The project aimed to find out how to support the different birth cohorts already active in Europe to work together and to provide policy- and decision-makers with solid scientific evidence. The project was completed in February 2013.
The University of Bristol contributed to work to understand the relationship between findings from birth cohort research and child health policy in Europe (led by Patricia Lucas) and to consider how the existing European birth cohorts could work together to understand the relationship between early life and obesity, diabetes and heart disease later in life.
Key Messages from the project
• Birth cohorts are valuable potential sources of policy-relevant research, since they collect a wealth of key information on childhood diseases and their determinants.
• Today, there are more than 70 birth cohorts across Europe, studying over 500,000 mothers, fathers, and children at repeated time points and over long time periods.
• Pooling of cohort data across countries is possible and valuable, but there is currently no common European database.
• Improved collaboration across Europe will enhance research and knowledge obtained from individual birth cohorts and their ability to contribute policy-relevant findings and respond rapidly to new policy concerns.
• Based on strategic analysis of the current state of European birth cohort research, CHICOS has drafted a set of recommendations for the next 10 to 15 years.