Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Early Determinants of Adult Health Study

  • E. Susser (a1) (a2) (a3) (a4), S. Buka (a5), C. A. Schaefer (a6), H. Andrews (a7) (a8) (a9), P. M. Cirillo (a10), P. Factor-Litvak (a1) (a4), M. Gillman (a11), J. M. Goldstein (a12) (a13) (a14), P. Ivey Henry (a15), L. H. Lumey (a1) (a4), I. W. McKeague (a4) (a9), K. B. Michels (a16) (a17) (a18), M. B. Terry (a1) (a4) and B. A. Cohn (a10)...


This issue of the Journal features collaborative follow-up studies of two unique pregnancy cohorts recruited during 1959–1966 in the United States. Here we introduce the Early Determinants of Adult Health (EDAH) study. EDAH was designed to compare health outcomes in midlife (age 40s) for same-sex siblings discordant on birthweight for gestational age. A sufficient sample of discordant siblings could only be obtained by combining these two cohorts in a single follow-up study. All of the subsequent six papers are either based upon the EDAH sample or are related to it in various ways. For example, three papers report results from studies that significantly extended the ‘core’ EDAH sample to address specific questions.

We first present the overall design of and rationale for the EDAH study. Then we offer a synopsis of past work with the two cohorts to provide a context for both EDAH and the related studies. Next, we describe the recruitment and assessment procedures for the core EDAH sample. This includes the process of sampling and recruitment of potential participants; a comparison of those who were assessed and not assessed based on archived data; the methods used in the adult follow-up assessment; and the characteristics at follow-up of those who were assessed. We provide online supplementary tables with much further detail. Finally, we note further work in progress on EDAH and related studies, and draw attention to the broader implications of this endeavor.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Dr E. Susser, Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 722 West 168th Street, office 1030, New York, NY 10032, USA.(Email


Hide All

E. Susser and S. Buka are joint first authors.



Hide All
1. Broman, SH. The collaborative perinatal project: an overview. In Handbook of Longitudinal Research, Vol. 1 (eds. Mednick SA, Harway M, Finello KM), 1984, pp. 166179. Praeger Publishers, New York.
2. Broman, SH, Bien, E, Shaughnessy, P. Low Achieving Children: the First Seven Years, 1985. L. Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ.
3. Buka, S, Goldstein, J, Seidman, L, et al. Prenatal complications, genetic vulnerability and schizophrenia: the New England longitudinal studies of schizophrenia. Psychiatr Ann. 1999; 29, 151156.
4. van den Berg, BJ, Christianson, RE, Oechsli, FW. The California child health and development studies of the School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley. Paed Peri Epidemiol. 1988; 2, 265282.
5. Susser, E, Terry, MB, Matte, T. The birth cohorts grow up: new opportunities for epidemiology. Paed Peri Epidemiol. 2000; 14, 98100.
6. Susser, E, Terry, MB. A conception-to-death cohort. Lancet. 2003; 361, 797798.
7. McKeague, IW, Lopez-Pintado, S, Hallin, M, Siman, M. Analyzing growth trajectories. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2011; 2, 322329.
8. Lumey, L. Maternal and pregnancy characteristics in relation to offspring size at birth and size at age 43 years; cohort and sibling analyses. J Dev Orig Health Dis. (In this issue).
9. Terry, MB, Schaefer, CA, Flom, JD, et al. Prenatal smoke exposure and mammographic density in mid-life. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2011; 2, 340352.
10. Factor-Litvak, P, Straka, N, Cherkerzian, S, et al. Associations between birth weight, preeclampsia and cognitive functions in middle-aged adults. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2011; 2, 365374.
11. Goldstein, JM, Cherkerzian, S, Buka, SL, et al. Sex-Specific impact of maternal–fetal risk factors on depression and cardiovascular risk 40 years later. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2011; 2, 353364.
12. Cirillo, PM, Cohn, BA, Krigbaum, NY, et al. Effect of maternal coffee, smoking and drinking behavior on adult son's semen quality: prospective evidence from the Child Health and Development Studies. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2011; 2, 375386.
13. Susser, E, Eide, MG, Begg, M. The use of sibship studies to detect familial confounding. Am J Epidemiol. 2010; 172, 537539.
14. Donovan, S, Susser, E. Commentary: advent of sibling designs. Int J Epidemiol. 2011; 40, 345349.
15. Terry, M, Wei, Y, Esserman, D, McKeague, I, Susser, E. Pre- and postnatal determinants of childhod body size. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2011; 2, 99111.
16. Matte, TD, Bresnahan, M, Begg, MD, Susser, E. Influence of variation in birth weight within normal range and within sibships on IQ at age 7 years: cohort study. BMJ. 2001; 323, 310314.
17. Lumey, LH, Stein, AD, Kahn, HS, et al. Cohort profile: the Dutch Hunger Winter families study. Int J Epidemiol. 2007; 36, 11961204.
18. Gilman, SE, Gardener, H, Buka, SL. Maternal smoking during pregnancy and children's cognitive and physical development: a causal risk factor? Am J Epidemiol. 2008; 168, 522531.
19. Davey Smith, G. Epidemiology, epigenetics and the ‘Gloomy Prospect’: embracing randomness in population health research and practice. Int J Epidemiol. 2011; 40, 537562.
20. Kuh, D, Ben-Shlomo, Y. A Life Course Approach to Chronic Disease Epidemiology, 2nd edn, 2004. Oxford University Press, New York.
21. Barker, DJP. Fetal Origins of Cardiovascular and Lung Disease, 2001. M. Dekker, New York.
22. Paneth, N, Susser, M. Early origin of coronary heart disease (the “Barker hypothesis”). BMJ. 1995; 310, 411412.
23. Hutcheon, JA, Platt, RW. The missing data problem in birth weight percentiles and thresholds for “Small-for-Gestational-Age”. Am J Epidemiol. 2008; 167, 786792.
24. Niswander, KR, Gordon, M, Nati onal Institute of N eurological Diseases and Stroke. The women and their pregnancies; the Collaborative Perinatal Study of the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, 1972. National Institute of Health; for sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off., Washington.
25. Broman, SH, Nichols, PL, Kennedy, WA. Preschool IQ: Prenatal and Early Developmental Correlates, 1975. L. Erlbaum Associates; distributed by the Halsted Press Division of Wiley, Hillsdale, NJ; New York.
26. Nichols, PL, Chen, T-C. Minimal Brain Dysfunction: a Prospective Study, 1981. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ.
27. Myrianthopoulos, NC, French, KS. An application of the U.S. Bureau of the Census socioeconomic index to a large, diversified patient population. Soc Sci Med (1967). 1968; 2, 283299.
28. Buka, SL, Lipsitt, LP, Tsuang, MT. Birth complications and psychological deviancy: a 25-year prospective inquiry. Pediatr Int. 1988; 30, 537546.
29. Pasamanick, B, Rogers, ME, Lilienfeld, AM. Pregnancy experience and the development of behavior disorder in children. Am J Psychiatry. 1956; 112, 613618.
30. Buka, SL, Tsuang, MT, Lipsitt, LP. Pregnancy/delivery complications and psychiatric diagnosis: a prospective study. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1993; 50, 151156.
31. Goldstein, JM, Seidman, LJ, Buka, SL, et al. Impact of genetic vulnerability and hypoxia on overall intelligence by age 7 in offspring at high risk for schizophrenia compared with affective psychoses. Schiz Bull. 2000; 26, 323334.
32. Seidman, LJ, Buka, SL, Goldstein, JM, et al. The relationship of prenatal and perinatal complications to cognitive functioning at age 7 in the New England cohorts of the national collaborative perinatal project. Schiz Bull. 2000; 26, 309321.
33. Buka, SL, Tsuang, MT, Torrey, EF, et al. Maternal infections and subsequent psychosis among offspring. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2001; 58, 10321037.
34. Buka, SL, Tsuang, MT, Torrey, EF, et al. Maternal cytokine levels during pregnancy and adult psychosis. Brain Beh Imm. 2001; 15, 411420.
35. Thermenos, HW, Goldstein, JM, Buka, SL, et al. The effect of working memory performance on functional MRI in schizophrenia. Schiz Res. 2005; 74, 179194.
36. Goldstein, JM, Buka, SL, Seidman, LJ, Tsuang, MT. Specificity of familial transmission of schizophrenia psychosis spectrum and affective psychoses in the New England family study's high-risk design. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010; 67, 458467.
37. Susser, E. Life course cohort studies of schizophrenia. Psychiatr Ann. 1999; 29, 161165.
38. Opler, M, Buka, S, Groeger, J, et al. Prenatal exposure to lead, delta-aminolevulinic acid, and schizophrenia: further evidence. Environ Health Perspect. 2008; 116, 15861590.
39. Buka, SL, Shenassa, ED, Niaura, R. Elevated risk of tobacco dependence among offspring of mothers who smoked during pregnancy: a 30-year prospective study. Am J Psychiatry. 2003; 160, 19781984.
40. Gilman, SE, Martin, LT, Abrams, DB, et al. Educational attainment and cigarette smoking: a causal association? Int J Epidemiol. 2008; 37, 615624.
41. Kahler, CW, Strong, DR, Papandonatos, GD, et al. Cigarette smoking and the lifetime alcohol involvement continuum. Drug Alc Dep. 2008; 93, 111120.
42. Wen, X, Triche, EW, Hogan, JW, Shenassa, ED, Buka, SL. Birth weight and adult hypercholesterolemia: subgroups of small-for-gestational-age based on maternal smoking status during pregnancy. Epidemiology. 2010; 21, 786790.
43. Buka, SL, Satz, P, Seidman, S. Defining learning disabilities: the role of longitudinal studies. Thalamus. J Int Acad Res Lea Dis. 1998; 16, 1429.
44. Gilman, SE, Kawachi, I, Fitzmaurice, GM, Buka, SL. Socioeconomic status in childhood and the lifetime risk of major depression. Int J Epidemiol. 2002; 31, 359367.
45. Benirschke, K, Driscoll, SG. The Pathology of the Human Placenta, 1967. Springer-Verlag, New York.
46. Mongraw-Chaffin, ML, Cirillo, PM, Cohn, BA. Preeclampsia and cardiovascular disease death: prospective evidence from the child health and development studies cohort. Hypertension. 2010; 56, 166171.
47. Wang, ET, Cirillo, PM, Vittinghoff, E, et al. Menstrual irregularity and cardiovascular mortality. J Clin End Met. 2011; 96, E114E118.
48. Cohn, BA, Cirillo, PM, Christianson, RE, van den Berg, BJ, Siiteri, PK. Placental characteristics and reduced risk of maternal breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2001; 93, 11331140.
49. Cohn, BA, Wolff, MS, Cirillo, PM, Sholtz, RI. DDT and breast cancer in young women: new data on the significance of age at exposure. Environ Health Perspect. 2007; 115, 14061414.
50. Whittemore, AS, Cirillo, PM, Feldman, D, Cohn, BA. Prostate specific antigen levels in young adulthood predict prostate cancer risk: results from a cohort of Black and White Americans. J Urol. 2005; 174, 872876; discussion 876.
51. Cohn, BA, Cirillo, PM, Christianson, RE. Prenatal DDT exposure and testicular cancer: a nested case–control study. Arch Environ Occup Health. 2010; 65, 127134.
52. Udry, JR, Morris, NM, Kovenock, J. Androgen effects on women's gendered behaviour. J Biosoc Sci. 1995; 27, 359368.
53. Cohn, BA, Cirillo, PM, Wolff, MS, et al. DDT and DDE exposure in mothers and time to pregnancy in daughters. Lancet. 2003; 361, 22052206.
54. Cohn, BA, Cirillo, PM, Sholtz, RI, et al. Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposure in mothers and time to pregnancy in daughters. Reprod Tox. 2011; 31, 280296.
55. Susser, E, Schaefer, C, Brown, A, Begg, M, Jed Wyatt, R. The design of the prenatal determinants of schizophrenia study (PDS). Schiz Bull. 2000; 26, 257273.
56. Brown, AS, Begg, MD, Gravenstein, S, et al. Serologic evidence for prenatal influenza in the etiology of schizophrenia. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2004; 61, 774780.
57. Bresnahan, M, Schaefer, CA, Brown, AS, Susser, E. Prenatal determinants of schizophrenia: what we have learned thus far? Epidemiol Psychiatr Soc. 2005; 14, 194197.
58. Cohn, BA, Overstreet, JW, Fogel, RJ, et al. Epidemiologic studies of human semen quality: considerations for study design. Am J Epidemiol. 2002; 155, 664671.
59. Oken, E, Kleinman, K, Rich-Edwards, J, Gillman, M. A nearly continuous measure of birth weight for gestational age using a United States national reference. BMC Pediatr. 2003; 3, 6.
60. Liu, G, Liang, KY. Sample size calculations for studies with correlated observations. Biometrics. 1997; 53, 937947.
61. Li, Z, McKeague, IW. Power and sample size calculations for generalized estimating equations via local asymptotics. Statist Sin. 2011, under revision.


The Early Determinants of Adult Health Study

  • E. Susser (a1) (a2) (a3) (a4), S. Buka (a5), C. A. Schaefer (a6), H. Andrews (a7) (a8) (a9), P. M. Cirillo (a10), P. Factor-Litvak (a1) (a4), M. Gillman (a11), J. M. Goldstein (a12) (a13) (a14), P. Ivey Henry (a15), L. H. Lumey (a1) (a4), I. W. McKeague (a4) (a9), K. B. Michels (a16) (a17) (a18), M. B. Terry (a1) (a4) and B. A. Cohn (a10)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed