Research programme: Enhancing NSHD
Programme leader: Professor Diana Kuh
Other LHA senior scientists: Dr Rebecca Hardy, Professor Marcus Richards, Dr Mai Stafford
- For collaborators on this programme
please click here
The MRC National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) is the
oldest of the British birth cohorts, and is unique in having data
from birth to age 66 years on the health and social circumstances
of a representative sample (N=5,362) of those born in England,
Wales and Scotland in March 1946. Enhancing NSHD is the core
programme of the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, and
combines a research and a resource function.
The resource function is to curate, enrich and
share the NSHD resource, on which all Unit programmes and research
collaborations depend. In the last five years, we have completed
the 23rd follow-up, a pioneering clinic data collection,
with a high response rate, developed data sharing policies and
web-based data sharing tools, raised the international and national
profile of the study through the NSHD 65th birthday
events, and enhanced NSHD through new biomarker and genetic data. A
critical mass of biomedical and social scientists undertakes
collaborative projects; since 2007, NSHD data has been shared with
211 scientists from 49 research institutions.
The research function is to foster integrative
research across the Unit programmes and with external
collaborators, and to build capacity in life course epidemiology,
life course methods, and ageing research. Ongoing studies include:
the lifetime determinants of kidney function, thyroid function, and
healthy ageing; the long-term health effects of exposure to air
pollution; dietary studies; menopausal studies, and genetic
studies. Much of this work involves comparative research across
cohorts. For example, LHA leads the Healthy Ageing across the Life
Course (HALCyon) research
programme which brings an interdisciplinary group of researchers to
study life course determinants of three aspects of healthy ageing
across nine UK cohort studies: physical and cognitive capability,
social and psychological wellbeing and underlying biology,
including aspects of physiology and genetics. More details
can be found on www.halcyon.ac.uk.
Main objectives for 2013-2018
The two main research themes for NSHD in the next five years
are: (1) healthy ageing and the management of health and health
care needs as the cohort grows older, and how these are influenced
by earlier life experiences; and (2) the biology of ageing, linking
epidemiology and mechanistic science in this cohort study. The
latter includes planned metabolomic and epigenomic projects, and
research collaborations on lifetime determinants and consequences
of the ageing lung and endocrine function. We also plan to extend
HALCyon cross cohort research activities, data harmonisation and
data sharing through international collaborations and through our
role in the new ESRC/MRC Cohort Resource Facility. The Cohort
Resource Facility is funded by the ESRC and the MRC from October
2012 with the purpose of maximising the use, value and impact of
data collected across a portfolio of key UK longitudinal
This programme will also co-ordinate and
manage the new data collections planned for 2013-18. More details
will be provided once funding is secured.
Top five publications 2007-2012:
Kuh D, Pierce M, Adams J, Deanfield J, Ekelund U,
Friberg P, Ghosh AK, Harwood N, Hughes A, MacFarlane P, Pellerin D,
Stephen AM, Wong A, Richards M, Hardy R on behalf of the NSHD
scientific and clinic data collection teams. Updating the cohort profile for the
MRC National Survey of Health and Development: a new clinic-based
data collection for ageing research.
International Journal of Epidemiology 2011
This paper presents the research protocol for the recent clinic
data collection and was the first updated cohort profile published
by the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Mishra G and Kuh D. How do health symptoms during midlife
relate to menopausal transition? A British prospective cohort
study. BMJ 2012;344:e402.
This paper was the first to combine factor analysis and latent
class analysis to study how longitudinal symptom profiles related
to timing of menopause. The paper found that women had different
symptom profiles and only some profiles were related to timing of
the menopause. As expected, there was evidence of timing of hot
flushes and night sweats in relation to the menopause: some women
experienced the peak severity prior to menopause, while for other
women symptoms became more bothersome afterwards. A third of women
experienced only mild or no symptoms of hot flushes and night
sweats through their menopausal transition. While two thirds of
women reported psychological symptoms during the same period, for
only one in ten were these reports clearly related to menopause
timing; other life events were generally more important. These
findings help women and their health professionals know what to
expect during the menopausal transition, so that an approach to
symptom management can be tailored to individual needs.
Mishra G, Nitsch D, Black S, De Stavola B, Kuh D, Hardy
R. A Structured approach to modelling
the effects of binary exposure variables over the life course.
International Journal of Epidemiology 2009
This paper showed how to model the effects of a binary exposure
variable over the life course, and demonstrated how to distinguish
a sensitive period model from an accumulation model when studying
the effects of lifetime socioeconomic position on adult health.
Repapi E et al. with multiple co-authors. Genome-wide association study identifies five
new loci associated with lung function. Nature Genetics 2010
This was one of the first opportunities to use the NSHD as a
replication study, after the DNA repository was established,
helping to establish five new genetic markers of lung function.
Subsequently there were two further papers (Soler Artigas et al.
Nature Genetics 2011;43:1082-90; Soler Artigas et al. American
Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2011;84:786-95)
extending these findings to 16 new genetic markers suggesting novel
mechanistic pathways, investigating the joint effects of five
genetic variants on lung function, and examining the effects of
these genetic markers on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Ong, KK, Elks, CE, Wills, AK, Wong, A, Wareham, NJ,
Loos, RJF, Kuh, D, Hardy, R. Timing of
associations between polymorphism in LIN28B and BMI across the life
course. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2011
This study extended the original paper that identified LIN28B as
a key genetic determinant of pubertal timing to provide evidence
that earlier pubertal timing, which is a known marker of increased
adult metabolic disease risk, results in a prolonged elevation in
BMI during early to mid-adult life in women.
For a full list of publications please click here.