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Child Health CheckPoint: cohort summary and methodology of a physical health and biospecimen module for the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

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posted on 01.07.2019, 00:00 authored by Susan A Clifford, Sarah Davies, Melissa Wake, Peter S Azzopardi, Louise A Baur, David P Burgner, John B Carlin, Michael Cheung, Terence Dwyer, Ben Edwards, Susan Ellul, Alanna N Gillespie, Lisa GoldLisa Gold, Anneke C Grobler, Jessica A Kerr, Kate LycettKate Lycett, Katherine Lange, Fiona K Mensah, Timothy S Olds, Sarath Ranganathan, Helen Rogers, Richard Saffery, Michael Sawyer, Peter J Simm, Luke Stevens, Tien Y Wong, Stephen R Zubrick
Objectives ‘Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children’ (LSAC) is Australia's only nationally representative children’s longitudinal study, focusing on social, economic, physical and cultural impacts on health, learning, social and cognitive development. LSAC's first decade collected wide-ranging repeated psychosocial and administrative data; here, we describe the Child Health CheckPoint, LSAC’s dedicated biophysical module.

Design, setting and participants LSAC recruited a cross-sequential sample of 5107 infants aged 0–1 year and a sample of 4983 children aged 4–5 years in 2004, since completing seven biennial visits. CheckPoint was a cross-sectional wave that travelled Australia in 2015–2016 to reach LSAC’s younger cohort at ages 11–12 years between LSAC waves 6 and 7. Parent–child pairs participated in comprehensive assessments at 15 Assessment Centres nationwide or, if unable to attend, a shorter home visit.

Measures CheckPoint’s intergenerational, multidimensional measures were prioritised to show meaningful variation within normal ranges and capture non-communicable disease (NCD) phenotype precursors. These included anthropometry, physical activity, fitness, time use, vision, hearing, and cardiovascular, respiratory and bone health. Biospecimens included blood, saliva, buccal swabs (also from second parent), urine, hair and toenails. The epidemiology and parent–child concordance of many measures are described in separate papers.

Results 1874 (54% of eligible) parent–child pairs and 1051 second parents participated. Participants' geographical distribution mirrored the broader Australian population; however, mean socioeconomic position and parental education were higher and fewer reported non-English-speaking or Indigenous backgrounds. Application of survey weights partially mitigates that the achieved sample is less population representative than previous waves of LSAC due to non-random attrition. Completeness was uniformly high for phenotypic data (>92% of eligible), biospecimens (74%–97%) and consent (genetic analyses 98%, accessing neonatal blood spots 97%, sharing 96%).

Conclusions CheckPoint enriches LSAC to study how NCDs develop at the molecular and phenotypic levels before overt disease emerges, and clarify the underlying dimensionality of health in childhood and mid-adulthood.



BMJ Open




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BMJ Publishing


London, Eng.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal