Background: Cohort studies tend to be designed to look forward from the time of enrolment of the participants, but there is considerable evidence that the previous generations have a particular relevance not only in the genes that they have passed on, their cultural beliefs and attitudes, but also in the ways in which previous environmental exposures may have had non-genetic impacts, particularly for exposures during fetal life or in childhood.
Methods: To investigate such non-genetic inheritance, we have collected information on the childhoods of the ancestors of the cohort of births comprising the original Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The data collected on the study child’s grandparents and great grandparents comprise: (a) countries of birth; (b) years of birth; (c) age at onset of smoking; (d) whether the ancestral mothers smoked during pregnancy; (e) social class of the household; (f) information on 19 potentially traumatic situations in their childhoods such as death of a parent, being taken into care, not having enough to eat, or being in a war situation; (g) causes of death for those ancestors who had died. The ages at which the individual experienced the traumatic situations distinguished between ages <6; 6–11, and 12–16 years. The numbers of ancestors on which data were obtained varied from 1128 paternal great-grandfathers to 4122 maternal great grandmothers. These ancestral data will be available for analysis to bona fide researchers on application to the ALSPAC Executive Committee.
- Bristol Population Health Science Institute
- childhood trauma
- transgenerational response