Pre- and Postnatal Factors Obtained from Health Records
Collection of secondary data on an individual level, e.g. from official sources, may complement primary data from questionnaires and examinations in epidemiological field studies. Retrieval of individual-level secondary data thus represents an important step to constitute a comprehensive epidemiological database: secondary health data potentially represent an added value for the inference of causal relationships because they provide information without recall bias. In the IDEFICS/I.Family studies, health records of routine child visits reaching back to birth as well as medical records for the prenatal period were collected. Several studies suggest that both intra-uterine and early infancy growth may influence the development of overweight during childhood, adolescence and even adulthood (Poston 2012). The IDEFICS/I.Family studies were conducted in different cultural settings using a standardised protocol that sometimes needed adaptation to local characteristics. The latter was the case for the documentation of routine child visits and maternity cards that varied across countries with regard to data sources and the type of information recorded. This chapter summarises the methodology of retrieval and harmonisation of secondary health data in the IDEFICS/I.Family studies and describes the differences and similarities of these records across countries.
This chapter is based on a draft that was created by Gianvincenzo Barba from the Institute of Food Sciences, National Research Council (Avellino, Italy). Gianni unexpectedly passed away before this chapter was completed. He played a prominent part in the harmonisation of data from routine child visits and maternity cards across the countries collecting data for the IDEFICS/I.Family cohort. We are grateful for his valuable contributions.
The development of instruments, the baseline data collection and the first follow-up work as part of the IDEFICS study (www.idefics.eu) were financially supported by the European Commission within the Sixth RTD Framework Programme Contract No. 016,181 (FOOD). The most recent follow-up including the development of new instruments and the adaptation of previously used instruments was conducted in the framework of the I.Family study (www.ifamilystudy.eu) which was funded by the European Commission within the Seventh RTD Framework Programme Contract No. 266044 (KBBE 2010–14).
We thank all families for participating in the extensive examinations of the IDEFICS and I.Family studies. We are also grateful for the support from school boards, headmasters and communities.
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