Children of the 1950s Study
We are using the Aberdeen Children of the 1950s (ACONF) study to investigate the effect of school and local environment in childhood on adult health and wellbeing. The study is based on a survey carried out in December 1962 of all Aberdeen primary school children born between 1950-56. These children took standardised reading tests and provided information about parental occupation and number of siblings. Information was obtained from school records that included standard school tests at age 7, 9 and 11 years, and from school health records on height and weight. Information about maternal characteristics (including height and age), course of pregnancy and birth details including birth weight and gestational age was taken from the Aberdeen Maternity and Neonatal Databank. See also.
Health is influenced by many social contexts and the relationship between social status and health is well documented. Education has an impact on health as people with less education have higher mortality than those with more education. The 1998 follow-up to the Aberdeen Children of the 1950s study provides the opportunity to study the influence of primary and secondary school on higher education attainment.
Some studies have shown that the school attended influences the health behaviours of pupils while still at school. Little is known about the long term effects of the school attended on health. We have used the 1998 follow-up to the Aberdeen Children of the 1950s study to examine childhood and school influences on adult disease risk. We have assessed the effect of primary school attended on self reported health and its risk factors in adults.The effects of primary school diminished after adjusting for individual-level childhood risk factors and for adult risk factors. Contrary to our expectations, we found that adult self-reported health and behaviour appear to be unrelated to primary school. This is surprising given the extent to which characteristics known to be associated with adult health such as educational achievement, income and social class were clustered within schools. We are using the same study to investigate the influence of primary and secondary school on higher education attainment.
Analysis of 6285 respondents in the ACONF study showed that both early life socioeconomic context (primary school & neighbourhood) and composition (individual and family) are important indicators for adult health, even after accounting for current social position. This shows that school and neighbourhood contexts may impact long term on health over and above individual characteristics. Adult general health and mental wellbeing also clustered within families, although the small number of siblings per family poses analytical challenges.