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Book Review: History of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, c1980-2000

20 August 2012
By Dr Chloe CY Wong
Postdoctoral research fellow, MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, King's College London
Appeared in BioNews 669

History of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children c1980-2000

Edited by Caroline Overy, Lois Reynolds and Professor Tilli Tansey

Published by Queen Mary University of London's History of Modern Biomedicine Research Group

ISBN-10: 0902238787, ISBN-13: 978-0902238787

Buy this book from Amazon UK

'History of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children c1980-2000' edited by Caroline Overy, Lois Reynolds and Professor Tilli Tansey


The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), also known as the Children of the 90s study, is a Bristol University-based project that has followed children born to over 14,000 pregnant women who enrolled between 1991 and 1992. A wealth of health, environmental and lifestyle data, as well as biological samples has been collected by this longitudinal population-based study over the past 21 years. This has created a unique resource for research scientists to better understand genetic and environmental determinants of development and health. As of April 2012, data from this cohort has contributed to an impressive record of more than 750 scientific papers.

This publication presents the origin and development of ALSPAC in a rather refreshing way. The historic events of ALSPAC were detailed by the transcript of a seminar where several key scientists involved with the setup and running of the study met together to discuss their memories. A wide range of topics were covered including the development of research ideas and questionnaires, the associated ethical considerations, the diversity of methodologies employed and the challenges of seeking funds for such an innovative project.

As a reader, I found this specialised form of oral history descriptive and captivating. I particularly enjoyed the personal perspectives provided by the ALSPAC researchers and the inclusion of images such as recruitment posters and the ALSPAC Tooth Fairy in the publication have certainly left me feeling like I have taken a stroll down memory lane with them.

As an early career researcher, I felt that this publication not only gave a detailed historic account on an imperative health research project, but has also provided invaluable insight on the processes involved in developing an idea into a project.


Buy History of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children c1980-2000 from Amazon UK.

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