History of the NordChild study

 A branch of Child Public Health at the Nordic School of Public Health.

The Nordic School of Public Health (NHV) was founded in 1954, as a course center for further training, mainly of administrative medical doctors in the Nordic countries. In 1978 the School was reorganized and expanded, its tasks and target groups were widened. An important mission for the New School was to introduce and develop the modern concepts of Public Health, both in training and research, and to apply it in the Nordic countries.

Since the new professor of Social and Preventive Medicine (and also the Dean), Lennart Köhler, came from a position as Head of Child Health Services in a Swedish county and was Associate Professor of Social Pediatrics at Lund University, an obvious focus for his interest was children’s health, now expressed as Child Public Health. This is an area based on the broad WHO health concept and on a Public Health approach, while concentrating on the special needs and characteristics of children. Both in training, research and service its ultimate goal is to consider the health of children in its social, economic and political context.

In teaching regular courses in Child Health were introduced as part of the general programs in Public Health. In various shapes they came to run from 1979 until the closing down of the School in 2014.

In research the ideas of a joint Nordic study were first presented at the Nordic Pediatric Congress in Gothenburg in 1979. The original research questions came to deal with the health and living conditions of children with long term diseases, particularly Cystic fibrosisand Spina bifida. Research groups for these diagnoses were formed by researchers in major Nordic pediatric centers.

It was soon realized both that the assessment of the living conditions of these children required systematic knowledge about healthy children as well, and also that such information was not available. Therefore, a survey of a representative sample of children from each Nordic country, was launched to fill this gap and to act as a control group. In the process additional groups of long-term ill children were added, such as diabetes, Down’s syndrome and severe asthma.

This original control study became so interesting that it was decided to develop it into a major Child Health project, the NordChild study.

The project was economically supported by the NHV´s research budget, the Nordic Science Research Council (NOS-S) and the Swedish National Institute of Public Health. Participating researchers were paid by their respective institutions.

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