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What can large population-based birth cohort study ask about past, present and future of children with disorders of development, learning and behaviour?
  1. Slavica K Katusic1,
  2. Robert C Colligan2,
  3. Scott M Myers3,
  4. Robert G Voigt4,
  5. Kouichi Yoshimasu1,5,
  6. Ruth E Stoeckel6,
  7. Amy L Weaver7
  1. 1Division of Epidemiology, Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  2. 2Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  3. 3Geisinger-Bucknell Autism and Developmental Medicine Center, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, USA
  4. 4Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA
  5. 5Department of Hygiene, School of Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama, Japan
  6. 6Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  7. 7Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics, Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Slavica K Katusic, Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA; katusic.slavica{at}


A large cohort consisting of all children born to mothers from community provides ‘natural’ selection into different exposures and is a powerful resource for epidemiological research. A large population-based birth cohort with detailed systematic information already recorded, as part of longitudinal medical care, historical and current school data, detailed birth certificate data and all three resources available for every member of the birth cohort, are extremely rare. Our population-based birth cohort consists of all children born between 1976 and 2000 to mothers residing in Olmsted County, Minnesota, at the time of child's birth (N=39 890). In this paper, we provide a comprehensive report of the method describing the identification, the characteristics and longitudinal follow-up of each child (and family members) from the birth cohort, wealth of complementary resources of data and study measures and designs (retrospective, combined retrospective/prospective). In the last decade or so, we obtained scientific and clinically needed answers for incidence rates, potential risk/protective factors, treatment, comorbidities, outcomes, cost/usage and potential biases (that are always assessed and clinically interpreted) of many developmental learning and behavioural disorders (DLBDs) including learning and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders, intellectual disability, speech-language impairment and autism spectrum disorder. Many current and future questions related to DLBDs are remaining to be answered. The Olmsted County Birth Cohort (OCBC) is an example of a comprehensive, contemporary epidemiological research model for the development of similar research infrastructures, and its current and future results are important for replication and comparison with other population-based retrospective and prospective birth cohort studies.

  • Clinical epidemiology
  • Cohort studies
  • Research Design in Epidemiology

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  • Contributors All the authors contributed to the work and take responsibility for it. Precisely, SKK designed the study, directed every step of its implementation, including obtaining permission to access all 41 school resources, developed strategies for quality assurance and completed all the requirements for IRB approvals. Specialists in child development disorders, RCC, SMM, RGV and RES were part of the whole, long process helping in supervision and advising in all study activities. KY helped conduct the literature review and contributed to the preparation of the discussion of the text. ALW designed the study's analytic strategies and completed statistical analysis. All the authors provided critical revisions of the manuscript.

  • Funding This study was supported by Public Health Service research grants: HD29745, MH093522 and AG34676 from the National Institutes of Health.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Institutional Review Board #PR09-008216-06; Title: “The epidemiology of childhood neurodevelopmental disorders in a population-based birth cohort (1976–2000).”

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.