Height and weight are key indicators of healthy growth. For children in the Elfe cohort, these indicators are monitored via information recorded in their personal health records. Given that diet plays such an important part in children’s health and development, eating habits ar also studied, focusing on the impact of nutrient intake and food socialization. The cohort approach provides an opportunity to study trajectories and risk factors for developmental disorders, as well as protective and repair processes. The children’s motor, language, social and emotional development is analysed in relation to sociodemographic and medical factors (prematurity, chronic illness, etc.).
In order to gain a clearer understanding of the social inequalities in health that can prevail from the children’s very first years of life, researchers are studying individual – and regional –disparities in healthcare consumption and exposure to unfavourable environmental conditions and/or lifestyles. Asthma, allergies and obesity are now the most widespread chronic diseases among children, with many different causes. Elfe will provide a means of studying the complex interactions between genetic and environmental factors.
Infants’ health is mainly determined by the course of the pregnancy and the circumstances surrounding their birth. These in turn are subject to a variety of risk factors (e.g. mother’s state of health, healthcare consumption, environmental factors) that may or may not have been present prior to the pregnancy. Each infant’s weight and condition at birth, and whether it was born at term or preterm, are analysed in relation to all these risk factors and their interactions.
Accidents and Injuries
Everyday accidents are the leading cause of death among children. They frequently involve household products or falls in the home (e.g., falling downstairs, slipping in the bath), while exceptional events, such as moving house, a new birth or a family argument, increase the likelihood of a child having an accident. This research will make it possible to calculate the frequency of such injuries and find out what happens to the children who experience them.
Respiratory diseases, asthma and allergies
Asthma and allergies have become increasingly frequent in industrialized countries over recent decades. By tracking the children’s exposure to various risk factors and the occurrence of respiratory pathologies, we will be able to find out why some factors present in early childhood determine the onset of respiratory disease in adolescence.
Ever since they left the maternity unit, Elfe has been recording variations in the children’s healthcare consumption, taking account of their condition at birth and the health problems they subsequently develop, as well as their mothers’ state of health. The links between the pathologies observed in the children, their life experiences and various sociodemographic variables (parents’ age, occupation, housing, education level, etc.) are also analysed.
Several infections contracted by women during their pregnancy can be transmitted to the fetus and affect the health of the baby to varying degrees. For example, they can impair his or her psychomotor or neurosensory development, as in the case of toxoplasmosis.
FIND OUT MORE
Example of research
The Elfe study has made it possible to accurately gauge the impact of dust or tobacco smoke within the home on the risk of children developing asthma.