The LifeCycle Project - EU Child Cohort Network. A federated analysis infrastructure and harmonized data of more than 250,000 children and parents

Vincent W V Jaddoe*, Janine F Felix, Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen, Marie-Aline Charles, Leda Chatzi, Eva Corpeleijn, Nina Donner, Ahmed Elhakeem, Johan G. Eriksson, Rachel Foong, Veit Grote, Sido Haakma, Mark Hanson, Jennifer R Harris, Barbara Heude, Rae-Chi Huang, Hazel Inskip, Järvelin Marjo-Riitta, Berthold Koletzko, Debbie A LawlorMaarten Lindeboom, Rosemary R C McEachan, Tuija Mikkola, Johanna LT Nader, Angela Pinot de Moira, Costanza Pizzi, Lorenzo Richiardi, Sylvain P Sebert, Amelie Schwalber, Jordi Sunyer, Morris A. Swertz, Marina Vafeiadi, Martine Vrijheid, John Wright, Liesbeth Duijts, LifeCycle Project Group

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


Early life is an important window of opportunity to improve health across the full lifecycle. An accumulating body of evidence suggests that exposure to adverse stressors during early life leads to developmental adaptations, which subsequently affect disease risk in later life. Also, geographical, socio-economic, and ethnic differences are related to health inequalities from early life onwards. To address these important public health challenges, many European pregnancy and childhood cohorts have been established over the last 30 years. The enormous wealth of data of these cohorts has led to important new biological insights and important impact for health from early life onwards. The impact of these cohorts and their data could be further increased by combining data from different cohorts. Combining data will lead to the possibility of identifying smaller effect estimates, and the opportunity to better identify risk groups and risk factors leading to disease across the lifecycle across countries. Also, it enables research on better causal understanding and modelling of life course health trajectories. The EU Child Cohort Network, established by the Horizon2020-funded LifeCycle Project, brings together nineteen pregnancy and childhood cohorts, together including more than 250,000 children and their parents. A large set of variables has been harmonised and standardized across these cohorts. The harmonized data are kept within each institution and can be accessed by external researchers through a shared federated data analysis platform using the R-based platform DataSHIELD, which takes relevant national and international data regulations into account. The EU Child Cohort Network has an open character. All protocols for data harmonization and setting up the data analysis platform are available online. The EU Child Cohort Network creates great opportunities for researchers to use data from different cohorts, during and beyond the LifeCycle Project duration. It also provides a novel model for collaborative research in large research infrastructures with individual-level data. The LifeCycle Project will translate results from research using the EU Child Cohort Network into recommendations for targeted prevention strategies to improve health trajectories for current and future generations by optimizing their earliest phases of life.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2020


  • Consortium
  • Birth cohorts
  • Exposome
  • Life course
  • Non-communicable diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'The LifeCycle Project - EU Child Cohort Network. A federated analysis infrastructure and harmonized data of more than 250,000 children and parents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this