Cohort Profile & Study Books

These papers contain information on the background to the study as well as its sample size, content, and findings.

Books about the study

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Maternity in Great Britain

(Joint Committee of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Population Investigation Committee).

Maternity in Great Britain book coverThis book is a full report of the original national enquiry, led by Dr James Douglas, into the cost and quality of maternal services after the Second World War. The enquiry surveyed over thirteen and half thousand mothers, ninety-one per cent of all who gave birth in one week of March 1946, in England, Wales and Scotland. Key findings were that the cost of childbirth to a low-income family was disproportionately higher than to those who were well off; and that the quality of their antenatal care was poorer, as was the health of the babies themselves. Concern over these findings led to a change in the regulations for the administration of anaesthesia during child birth, and to funding for the follow-up of a sample from the enquiry, which became the MRC National Survey of Health and Development. The book was published in 1948 by Oxford University Press, at that time based in London.

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Children Under Five

(Douglas JWB and Blomfield JM)

Children under five book coverThis book encompasses the first follow-ups of the MRC National Survey of Health and Development study members, up to age five years. Key findings revealed generally improving social conditions in Britain (such as prosperity and housing), yet also the persistence of health problems, and lower odds of survival, in study members from low-income families. This book was published in 1958 by George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London.

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The Home and the School

(Douglas JWB)

Home and School2 book coverThis book encompassed the primary school years of MRC National Survey of Health and Development study members, and their transition into secondary school. It had a great impact, probably because it provided the first hard evidence that parents and preschool circumstances had a significant impact on ability and attainment at age eight, and so showed that preschool development and experience formed the bedrock on which primary schooling was built. It also revealed what became known as the ‘waste of talent’ problem, where intellectually bright children from manual working class homes were less likely to enter grammar school than children of similar ability from middle class homes. The book was first published in 1964 by MacGibbon & Kee, London.

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All our Future

(Douglas JWB, Ross JM and Simpson HR)

All our future book coverThis book encompasses the secondary school years of MRC National Survey of Health and Development study members. The title was based on that of the Newsom Report of 1963, Half our Future, which recommended raising the school leaving age to sixteen years. The principal findings of this book concern the continuing extent and inequity of the ‘waste of talent’ (see link to The Home and the School), where bright but less advantaged study members were less likely than study members of similar ability but from middle class homes to stay on in school after sixteen and a half years. This added to arguments for improving opportunities for, and expectations of, children from poorer families. The book was published in 1968 by Peter Davis, London.

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The Imprint of Time: Childhood, History, and Adult Life

(Wadsworth MEJ)

In this book, Michael Wadsworth shows how the study members’ circumstances and experiences as children and adolescents reflect in their adult health and way of life. He also shows the contrasts between childhood in the early post-war years with that of the members’ first-born children as they grew up in the 1970s and 1980s. The book was published in 1991 by Clarendon Press, Oxford.

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A Life Course Approach to Healthy Ageing

(Kuh D, Cooper R, Hardy R, Richards M and Ben-Shlomo Y)

a life course approach to healthy ageing book coverHealthy ageing has long been a neglected area of epidemiological research as the traditional focus has been on specific chronic diseases of older life. There is a growing consensus from scientists, research funders and policy makers that ageing itself needs to be studied from an interdisciplinary and life course perspective, to inform strategies for reducing the societal and individual costs of an ageing population.

The book considers how we might delay or slow down the progressive, generalised impairment of function that occurs at the individual, body system and cellular levels, as people grow older. It also considers the determinants of wellbeing in older people, including personal fulfillment, positive emotions and social relationships. The book will be published in Jan 2014 by Oxford University Press.