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BMC Public Health. 2012 Nov 22;12:1021. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-1021.

The LIFE child study: a life course approach to disease and health.

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LIFE Leipzig Research Centre for Civilization Diseases, University of Leipzig, Philipp-Rosenthalstrasse 27, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.



Profound knowledge about child growth, development, health, and disease in contemporary children and adolescents is still rare. Epidemiological studies together with new powerful research technologies present exciting opportunities to the elucidation of risk factor-outcome associations with potentially major consequences for prevention, diagnosis and treatment.


To conduct a unique prospective longitudinal cohort study in order to assess how environmental, metabolic and genetic factors affect growth, development and health from fetal life to adulthood.


The 'Leipzig Research Centre for Civilization Diseases (LIFE) Child Study' focuses on two main research objectives: (1) monitoring of normal growth, development and health; (2) non-communicable diseases such as childhood obesity and its co-morbidities, atopy and mental health problems. Detailed assessments will be conducted alongside long-term storage of biological samples in 2,000 pregnant women and more than 10,000 children and their families.


Close coordination and engagement of a multidisciplinary team in the LIFE Child study successfully established procedures and systems for balancing many competing study and ethical needs. Full participant recruitment and complete data collection started in July 2011. Early data indicate a high acceptance rate of the study program, successful recruitment strategies and the establishment of a representative cohort for the population of Leipzig. A series of subprojects are ongoing, and analyses and publications are on their way.


This paper addresses key elements in the design and implementation of the new prospective longitudinal cohort study LIFE Child. Given the recognized need for long-term data on adverse effects on health and protective factors, our study data collection should provide magnificent opportunities to examine complex interactions that govern the emergence of non-communicable diseases.

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