Reviews

The Life Project

Ths is a curious book. On the one hand, it looks and at times reads like fiction, while on the other, its content leans towards the factual

Ths is a curious book. On the one hand, it looks and at times reads like fiction, while on the other, its content leans towards the factual.

It examines British birth cohort studies, of which there have been many since the middle of the 20th century.

These cohorts, selected based on babies’ birthdates, are followed throughout their lives, with data gathered from health and lifestyle questionnaires, interviews and various clinical samples.

The National Child Development Study began in 1958 and tracked 17,415 subjects, and although there have been numerous publications about this group, they remain strangely anonymous.

This easy-to-read book gives a great factual overview of the studies, and contains interviews with the scientists involved and fascinating human interest stories from the cohort participants.

Overt the years, the published outcomes of these studies have been varied, with some elements receiving more media interest than others. The ‘born to fail’ concept that suggested children born into an impoverished background were more likely to maintain poor health, wealth and career aspirations, created a stir when first reported.

The fact that cohorts today continue to use the latest technological methods and challenge thinking is a testament to their value.

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