Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Current Projects

Project Title:

A scoping study investigating low birth weight and its impact on child development, linking maternity, child surveillance and education data

Project Number:



Chris Dibben (University of St Andrews)
Zengyi Huang (University of St Andrews)
Lee Williamson (University of St Andrews)

Start Date:

Approved on 06-04-2011


This study, part of the Scottish Health Informatics Programme (SHIP) Research Programme 4 on Demographic, Socio-Economic and Environmental Data Linkage Exemplar Study 1 on Longitudinal Research Support, is different to other SLS projects in that it is part scoping study on SLS data development.

The study is also part research-based and will seek to draw on and extend work on child development following low birth weight, using two specific cohorts.

It is known from research that low birthweight (LBW) and socio-economic status has an impact on cognitive development (Shenkin et al. 2001 and 2004). Specifically for Scotland, research has been undertaken including: the Scottish Mental Health Survey 1932 (Shenkin et al. 2001), Aberdeen children of the 1950s study (Lawlor et al. 2005) and the Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) longitudinal survey (Bromley 2009).

We aim to extend this research and compare findings. For example, GUS is a recent survey for which the children are still at young ages, and the other studies are older. Additionally, using the SLS would allow access to the large range of potential data sources, such as health/surveillance data.

While there has been research into determinants of LBW (Dibben et al 2006; Fairley 2005), we will primarily be interested in developmental outcomes. For SLS members born from 1991 onwards we will be able to link in registration details from Vital Events (VE) data to establish sole registration details, since lone-parenting is known to be a factor linked to LBW. Sole registration, along with socio-economic information from VE and SMR02 may be useful to control for when accounting for developmental outcomes.


Bromley, C. (2009). Growing Up in Scotland: The impact of children's early activities on cognitive development. Scottish Centre for Social Research.

Dibben, C., Sigala, M. and Macfarlane, A. (2006). Area deprivation, individual factors and low birth weight in England: is there evidence of an "area effect"? Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. 60, pp1053-1059.

Fairley, L. (2005) Changing patterns of inequality in birthweight and its determinants: a population-based study, Scotland 1980-2000. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. 19(5), pp342-351.

Lawlor, D.A., Batty, G.D., Morton, S.M.B., Deary, I.J., Macintyre, S., Ronalds, G. and Leon, D.A. (2005). Early life predictors of childhood intelligence: evidence from the Aberdeen children of the 1950s study. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. 59, pp656-663.

Shenkin, S. D., Starr, J. M., Pattie, A., Rush, M. A., Whalley, L. J., & Deary, I. J. (2001). Birth weight and cognitive function at age 11 years: The Scottish Mental Survey 1932. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 85,pp189-197.

Shenkin, S.D., Starr, J.M., Deary, I.J. (2004). Birth weight and cognitive ability in childhood: a systematic review. Psychological Bulletin. 130(6),pp989-1013.

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