Regional variation in five indicators of health in early childhood: a cohort study

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Abstract

Background Persistent and marked differences in adult morbidity and mortality between regions in the United Kingdom (UK) are often referred to as the north-south gradient (or divide) and the Scottish effect, and are only partly explained by adult levels of socioeconomic status (SES) or risk factors which suggests variation arising earlier in life. The aim of the current study was to examine regional variations in five health indicators in children in England and Scotland at birth and three years of age.
Methods Respondents were 10,500 biological Caucasian mothers of singleton children recruited to the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). Outcome variables were: gestational age and weight at birth, and height, body mass index (BMI), and externalising behaviour at age three. Region/Country was categorised as: South (reference), Midlands, North, and Scotland. Respondents provided information on child, maternal, household, and socioeconomic characteristics when the cohort infant/child was aged nine months and again when aged three years. 
Results There were no significant regional variations for gestational age or birthweight. However, at age three there was a north-south gradient for externalising behaviour and a north-south divide in BMI which attenuated on adjustment. However, a north-south divide in height was not fully explained by the adjusted model. There was also evidence of a ‘Midlands effect’, with increased likelihoods of shorter stature and behaviour problems. Results showed a Scottish effect for height and BMI in the unadjusted models, and height in the adjusted model. However, Scottish children were less likely to show behaviour problems in crude and adjusted models. 
Conclusions Findings indicated no marked regional differences in children at birth, but by age three some regional health differences were evident, and though not distinct north-south gradients or Scottish effects, are evidence of health inequalities appearing at an early age and dependent on geographic location.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2014
EventSociety for Longitudinal and Lifecourse Studies International Conference 2014 - University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Duration: 09 Oct 201411 Oct 2014

Conference

ConferenceSociety for Longitudinal and Lifecourse Studies International Conference 2014
CountrySwitzerland
CityLausanne
Period09/10/201411/10/2014

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