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Cohort Acronym
NSHD/ 1946BC

Cohort type
General population-based cohort

Dementia (unclassified), Subjective memory complaints (SMC) or subjective cognitive decline (SCD)

Participant type
No diagnosis

Recruitment Period 1946 
Sample size at start or planned sample size if still recruiting 5362  
Estimated Current Sample Size 0 to 4,999 
Age at Recruitment 0   
Gender Male and Female 

The NSHD has informed UK health care, education and social policy for more than 70 years and is the oldest and longest running of the British birth cohort studies. Today, with study members in 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 24 times throughout their life.

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.

Now, as participants reach retirement, the research team is developing the NSHD into a life course study of ageing. Study members completed a postal questionnaire in 2014 and participated in a home visit in 2015/16, where data on health, lifestyle and life circumstances as well as obtaining repeat physical and cognitive measurements were collected. Over the past two years, a subset of 500 study members were invited to participate in a neuroimaging sub-study and over the next two years they will be recalled for a follow-up. This study will be conducted in collaboration with the Institute of Neurology, UCL.

NSHD is part of CLOSER (Cohort & Longitudinal Studies Enhancement Resources) which aims to maximise the use, value and impact of the UK’s longitudinal studies.
NSHD is part of the Dementias Platform UK (DPUK), a multi-million pound public-private partnership to accelerate progress in dementias research http://www.mrc.ac.uk/research/facilities/dementias-platform-uk

Last update: 19/12/2016

Country United Kingdom 
Contact details
Institution name University College, London 
Principal Investiator (PI) Professor Nish Chaturvedi 
Contact email General enquiries: [email protected] Data access: [email protected] 
Contact phone number +44 (0) 20 7670 5700 
Address MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL
33 Bedford Place
London WC1B 5JU
Funders (Core support) Medical Research Council 

Variables Collected

Brain related measures: Cognitive function, Mental health, Neurological
Funtional rating: Caregiver, Individual physiological, Individual psychological
Anthropometric: Blood pressure, Height, Hip circumference, Waist circumference, Weight
Physical: Cardiovascular, Hearing and Vision, Musculoskeletal, Respiratory
Biological samples: Blood, Other, Saliva, Urine
Genotyping: Gene screening
Brain imaging: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Positron emission tomography (PET) - amyloid
Brain banking: Consent for brain donation
Lifestyle: Alcohol, Dietary habits, Physical activity, Smoking
Socio-economic: Education, Ethnic group, Family circumstances, Housing and accommodation, Income and finances, Informal support, Marital status, Occupation and employment, Unpaid care
Health service utilisation: Formal health and social care service utilisation including private care
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