Open Access Study protocol

The LIFE child study: a life course approach to disease and health

Mirja Quante123, Mara Hesse12, Mirko Döhnert14, Michael Fuchs15, Christian Hirsch16, Elena Sergeyev12, Nora Casprzig1, Mandy Geserick1, Stephanie Naumann1, Christiane Koch1, Matthew A Sabin78, Andreas Hiemisch12, Antje Körner123, Wieland Kiess123* and for the LIFE Child Study Investigators

Author Affiliations

1 LIFE Leipzig Research Centre for Civilization Diseases, University of Leipzig, Philipp-Rosenthalstrasse 27, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

2 Department of Women and Child Health, Hospital for Children and Adolescents and Centre for Paediatric Research (CPL), University of Leipzig, Liebigstrasse 20a, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

3 IFB Integrated Research and Treatment Centre Adiposity Diseases, University of Leipzig, Philipp-Rosenthalstrasse 27, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

4 Department of Women and Child Health, Hospital for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Leipzig, Liebigstrasse 20a, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

5 Section of Phoniatrics and Audiology of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, University of Leipzig, Liebigstrasse 10-14, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

6 Department of Paediatric Dentistry, University of Leipzig, Nürnbergerstr. 57, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

7 Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Royal Children’s Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria 3052, Australia

8 University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:1021  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-1021

Published: 22 November 2012



Profound knowledge about child growth, development, health, and disease in contemporary children and adolescents is still rare. Epidemiological studies together with new powerful research technologies present exciting opportunities to the elucidation of risk factor-outcome associations with potentially major consequences for prevention, diagnosis and treatment.


To conduct a unique prospective longitudinal cohort study in order to assess how environmental, metabolic and genetic factors affect growth, development and health from fetal life to adulthood.


The ‘Leipzig Research Centre for Civilization Diseases (LIFE) Child Study’ focuses on two main research objectives: (1) monitoring of normal growth, development and health; (2) non-communicable diseases such as childhood obesity and its co-morbidities, atopy and mental health problems. Detailed assessments will be conducted alongside long-term storage of biological samples in 2,000 pregnant women and more than 10,000 children and their families.


Close coordination and engagement of a multidisciplinary team in the LIFE Child study successfully established procedures and systems for balancing many competing study and ethical needs. Full participant recruitment and complete data collection started in July 2011. Early data indicate a high acceptance rate of the study program, successful recruitment strategies and the establishment of a representative cohort for the population of Leipzig. A series of subprojects are ongoing, and analyses and publications are on their way.


This paper addresses key elements in the design and implementation of the new prospective longitudinal cohort study LIFE Child. Given the recognized need for long-term data on adverse effects on health and protective factors, our study data collection should provide magnificent opportunities to examine complex interactions that govern the emergence of non-communicable diseases.

Cohort study; Children; Pregnancy; Life-course; Epidemiology