Academic journal article Population

Cohort Studies: A Vital Tool for Understanding Child Development

Academic journal article Population

Cohort Studies: A Vital Tool for Understanding Child Development

Article excerpt

Given the multiple factors involved and their numerous interactions, research in the field of child development is particularly complex. The best way to observe children's trajectories is to conduct a cohort study. This involves selecting a sample of children at a very young age and tracking their development from birth to adulthood. A cohort study of this kind will be launched in France in 2011.

In a first article, Claudine PIRUS, Corinne BOIS, Marie-Noëlle DUFOURG, Jean-Louis LANOË, Stéphanie VANDENTORREN, Henri LERIDON and the ELFE TEAM present the organization and objectives of the French child cohort study, called Elfe (Étude longitudinale française depuis l'enfance) and detail their multidisciplinary approach. The Elfe project will be launched in March 2011, with the support of numerous research institutions in health and the social sciences. Based on a longitudinal life course approach, the project involves wide-ranging data collection operations - face-to-face and telephone interviews with parents, measurement of biological markers, installation of sensors to collect environmental data, gathering of contextual and administrative information - in many different areas, including health, family background, schooling, exposure to pollutants, etc. Two pilot studies have been conducted to validate the methodology for contacting the families in the French context of hospital maternity care, and for developing the questionnaires used in the first survey waves.

While the Elfe project is the first multidisciplinary child cohort study ever conducted in France, it is just one among many such projects taking place across the world. …

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