Measures of Early-life Behavior and Later Psychopathology in the LifeCycle Project - EU Child Cohort Network: A Cohort Description

J Epidemiol. 2023 Jun 5;33(6):321-331. doi: 10.2188/jea.JE20210241. Epub 2022 Apr 28.


Background: The EU LifeCycle Project was launched in 2017 to combine, harmonize, and analyze data from more than 250,000 participants across Europe and Australia, involving cohorts participating in the EU-funded LifeCycle Project. The purpose of this cohort description is to provide a detailed overview of the major measures within mental health domains that are available in 17 European and Australian cohorts participating in the LifeCycle Project.

Methods: Data on cognitive, behavioral, and psychological development has been collected on participants from birth until adulthood through questionnaire and medical data. We developed an inventory of the available data by mapping individual instruments, domain types, and age groups, providing the basis for statistical harmonization across mental health measures.

Results: The mental health data in LifeCycle contain longitudinal and cross-sectional data from birth throughout the life course, covering domains across a wide range of behavioral and psychopathology indicators and outcomes, including executive function, depression, ADHD, and cognition. These data span a unique combination of qualitative data collected through behavioral/cognitive/mental health questionnaires and examination, as well as data from biological samples and indices in the form of imaging (MRI, fetal ultrasound) and DNA methylation data. Harmonized variables on a subset of mental health domains have been developed, providing statistical equivalence of measures required for longitudinal meta-analyses across instruments and cohorts.

Conclusion: Mental health data harmonized through the LifeCycle project can be used to study life-course trajectories and exposure-outcome models that examine early life risk factors for mental illness and develop predictive markers for later-life disease.

Keywords: DataSHIELD; birth and pregnancy cohorts; child behavior and mental health; child development; population epidemiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Mental Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Mental Health