News | March 9, 2018

Prize award for a MPIDR paper

On March 9, 2018, a paper published in the PNAS by MPIDR director Mikko Myrskylä and by Alice Goisis and Berkay Özcan from the London School of Economics (LSE) on low birth weight and cognitive development has been awarded a prize.  

MPIDR director Mikko Myrskylä and LSE colleagues Alice Goisis and Berkay Özcan have been awarded a prize for their Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) paper titled “Decline in the negative association between low birth weight and cognitive ability” at a conference marking the 60th anniversary of the UK National Child Development Study (NCDS). Myrskylä and his co-authors used data from this survey for the paper awarded. 

Low birth weight is considered a risk factor for decreased cognitive abilities in later life. In their paper, Myrskylä and his LSE colleagues showed that this risk factor seems to be disappearing; it is much less pronounced in younger birth cohorts. The authors attribute this positive development to improvements in medical care of newborns since the 1970s.

The  NCDS follows the lives of more than 17,000 people born across England, Scotland and Wales in a single week of 1958. The survey was originally initiated to investigate the reasons for the high number of stillbirths and children dying in the first weeks of their lives. Later it was decided to carry on the interviews over the course of the lives of the participants, thus information has been gathered about health, physical, cognitive and social development, education, employment, home lives, social participation and attitudes. Data of participants aged 7 to 55 have been collected 10 times at different stages of their lives, creating a great data resource for scientists.

The conference “60 years of our lives: A celebration of the National Child Development Study at 60” was organized by the UK Centre for Longitudinal Studies, based at University College  London, and took place 8-9 March at the British Medical Association in London. A total of three papers have been awarded at this conference; all of them used the data of the NCDS.