Study Description


National Survey of Health and Development

Alternate Title


Principal Investigator

Professor Diana Kuh


MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, UCL


Copyright MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, UCL. All rights reserved.


The Medical Research Council (MRC) National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) is the oldest and longest running of the British birth cohort studies.

Also known as the 1946 British birth cohort study, it has followed 5,362 men and women since their birth in England, Scotland or Wales in one week in March 1946, so far until age 70 years. Today, with study members entering their seventies , the NSHD offers a unique opportunity to explore the long-term biological and social processes of ageing and how ageing is affected by factors acting across the whole of life.

From an initial maternity survey of 13,687 of all births recorded in England, Scotland and Wales during one week of March, 1946, a socially stratified sample of 5,362 singleton babies born to married parents was selected for follow-up. This sample comprises the NSHD cohort and participants have been studied 25 times.

During their childhood, the main aim of the NSHD was to investigate how the environment at home and at school affected physical and mental development and educational attainment. During adulthood, the main aim was to investigate how childhood health and development and lifetime social circumstances affected their adult health and function and how these change with age. NSHD is now a life course study of ageing. Study members were asked to attend a clinic at age 60-64 for a range of assessments (or alternatively have a home visit). They were invited for a further home visit at 69 years , updating information on health, lifestyle and life circumstances as well as obtaining repeat physical and cognitive measurements. Postal questionnaires were completed before the clinic and home visits. A subset of 500 study members are also being invited to participate in a Neuroscience sub-study.

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