Cohort for research into Living EnVironments and hEalth in childRen: CLEVER

Lead Research Organisation: University College London


What is this project about?
We are setting up a new data resource called CLEVER (Cohort for research into Living EnVironments and hEalth in childRen: CLEVER) to allow researchers to study the link between environments in and around schools and homes, and children's health and education.

Why are we doing this project?
Children are much more vulnerable to health-damaging features of the environment in and around their homes and schools than adults. Many children in England also lack access to services and infrastructure where they live and go to school. Being exposed to such things as outdoor air pollution, overcrowding, mould in the home, fast food advertising near schools, or having no access to greenspace during childhood is associated with the development of long-term conditions such as asthma, poor mental health, obesity and worse educational attainment. The Government is introducing a number of measures to improve environments and make housing safer. We need better data to understand how the local environment influences the health and education of children, and decide whether environmental policies introduced by the Government are improving children's wellbeing and school results.

How are we going to do it?
We will establish CLEVER, a national database containing data from schools, hospitals and community pharmacies on health and education histories for all children born in England from 2006 onwards, around 11 million children. Data for children will be linked to information about their mothers' health during pregnancy. We will combine the health and education data in CLEVER with data on local environments in and around children's homes and schools. This will allow researchers to carry out studies of how factors such as living near busy roads, growing up in an overcrowded house, or having access to parks and local services influence children's health and schooling from birth to teen age. To show how CLEVER data can be used, we will carry out a study to look at whether living or going to school near greenspace (such as public parks or gardens) helps teenagers' mental health, and whether living in areas with good childcare provision is related to how well children do at school. All data will be kept on secure servers and linked using methods that protect the identities of mothers and children. Ultimately, research based on CLEVER data will inform government departments and local councils, as well as the public at large, about how well their housing, environmental and planning policies are working to improve children's lives.


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