The Duchess Of Cambridge meets with leading researchers to discuss new holistic study into the early years

The Duchess Of Cambridge meets with leading researchers at UCL
The Duchess Of Cambridge meets with leading researchers at UCL
Research,   Visits  

Today, The Duchess of Cambridge visited University College London’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies. There, she met with leading early years researchers and learnt more about their new study, ‘The Children of the 2020s’, a new nationally representative birth cohort study launching in England, which will track the holistic development of children from the age of nine months to five years.

Speaking ahead of the visit, The Duchess of Cambridge said: 

“Our early childhoods shape our adult lives and knowing more about what impacts this critical time is fundamental to understanding what we as a society can do to improve our future health and happiness. 

The landmark ‘Children of the 2020s’ study will illustrate the importance of the first five years and provide insights into the most critical aspects of early childhood, as well as the factors which support or hinder positive lifelong outcomes. 

I am committed to supporting greater in-depth research in this vital area and I’m delighted to be meeting all those behind the study at this early stage.”

During the visit, The Duchess viewed archive material of historic research dating back to the 1940s into early childhood. She was also shown a ‘Birth Questionnaire’ given to new mothers in 1958, which included questions about pregnant women’s smoking habits. While not a standard question at the time, the responses allowed researchers to track the impact that smoking during pregnancy had on a baby’s birth weight, and also how it continued to affect different aspects of a child’s life into adulthood. This led to a public health campaign to stop women smoking whilst pregnant, something which is now commonplace. 

The approach of this study has particular resonance with The Duchess and her work on early childhood as it will look at a wide range of factors that affect children’s development and education in the early years, including the home environment, the community, early years services and the broader social and economic circumstances of the family. The research is the latest in a long line of birth cohort studies in the UK and will begin recruiting up to 8,000 families in January 2022 for babies born in April, May and June 2021.