Systematic review of birth cohort studies in South East Asia and Eastern Mediterranean regions

Rachel McKinnon, Harry Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Few longitudinal studies of children have taken place in the developing world, despite child mortality being concentrated there. This review summarises the methodologies and main outcomes of longitudinal studies of pre-school children (0 to 59 months) in the World Health Organization's South East Asia (SEA) and Eastern Mediterranean (EM) Regions.

METHODS: A systematic search of literature using pre-defined criteria revealed 7863 papers. After application of quality criteria, 120 studies were selected for analysis.

RESULTS: The search revealed 83 studies in the SEA region and 37 in the EM region, of which 92 were community-based and 8 facility-based. Objectives were diverse but topics included growth (n = 49 studies), mortality (n = 28), nutrition (n = 24), and infectious diseases (n = 33). Only 12 studies focused on non-communicable diseases. Duration ranged from 7 to 384 months. Measurements included anthropometric (n = 56 studies), socioeconomic (n = 50) and biological sampling (n = 25), but only one study was DNA-based.

CONCLUSION: Biobanks have emerged as the most successful approach to generating knowledge about disease causes and mechanisms. Little of this is possible to undertake in the in SEA or EM regions, however. Further longitudinal studies of young children with DNA sampling should be set up to better understand determinants of diseases in low-income countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-71
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Global Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


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