About the NSHD
The NSHD has informed UK health care, education and social policy for more than 50 years and is the oldest and longest running of the British birth cohort studies. Today, with study members in their late sixties, 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 23 times.
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 pass retirement age, the research team is developing the NSHD into a life course study of ageing.
The NSHD is one of nine cohort studies included in the Healthy Ageing across the Life Course (HALCyon) collaborative research programme which aims to improve the lives of older people through a better understanding of how healthy ageing is affected by social, psychological and biological factors acting across the whole of life (http://www.halcyon.ac.uk/).