Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

CHICOS — Result In Brief

Project ID: 241604
Funded under: FP7-HEALTH

A pan-European research strategy for child health

An EU-funded effort to improve child health across Europe has recommended establishing a European Birth Cohort (EBC) using data from existing and new studies. This comes after extensive research aimed at coordinating mother–child cohorts so that study results can better inform health policies.
A pan-European research strategy for child health
The 'Developing a child cohort research strategy for Europe' (CHICOS) project found that over 70 European birth cohorts are actively collecting information on childhood diseases and their causes from over 500 000 parents and children. This includes information on birth weight, asthma, allergies, childhood cancers, social inequalities, and risky parental behaviour like smoking and alcohol consumption.

Project members have also identified a number of gaps, such as a lack of data from eastern and southern Europe and information with regard to minority ethnic groups. Tracking of children as they grow into adults is also limited, as well as comparable results from neuropsychological development, diet and physical activity studies across Europe.

Some of these gaps have been addressed, as in the case of certain genetics, air pollution and asthma studies, where CHICOS has begun standardising data. In doing so, the project demonstrated that coordinating information from cohorts is possible and can greatly assist in translating scientific advances into child health policies.

The research team believe that a permanent, pan-European resource for key statistics on child health and determinants should be established. This EBC, which would be based on new and existing cohorts, would enable health surveillance and form a basis for new research.

An EBC should also include new studies that involve currently underrepresented population groups. In addition, it should link all cohorts, registries and other relevant data, and integrate knowledge translation, public engagement and policymaking.

With these recommendations, CHICOS has made a huge contribution towards developing a unified strategy for birth cohort research in Europe for the next 15 years. It has also provided the means to enhance communication between scientists, the public and decision makers, which is set to stimulate better public health interventions.

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